What if the act of choosing was making you unhappy?

April 10, 2012 in Ignite, Provocative, Raves, TED talks by

Usually information alone will not cause a change in behaviour. Most people need an experience or an emotional payoff to adjust long-term patterns; but there are some ideas that once heard, ferment in the brain. They percolate through the thoughts and you’ll find them popping up again and again.

They become relevant to everything.

I had an experience of this when I first heard of the confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is (as you may know, or be able to guess) that habit we all have of looking for evidence which supports our beliefs. We’ll ignore or discount the relevance of evidence which contradicts our beliefs, and overstate the accuracy of stuff which seems to confirm them. This probably explains why 90% of people think they’re of above average intelligence. Because being smart is a nice thing to think about oneself, we’ll look for the proof. After hearing of the confirmation bias, I would constantly find myself thinking “Am I very perceptive, or is this this just my confirmation bias at work?”‘

Well here’s another of those insidious ideas. This TED talk I saw long ago, and has been bubbling through my mind since then. The idea that Dan Gilbert is voicing here is that being able to choose (anything – career, wife, which brand of chocolate to eat) does not make us happy; but simply through the act of choosing, we are doomed to be unhappy. Hidden within that scary and paradoxical idea (how could we choose to not choose!?) I see a glint of hope for a different way to be.

Thanks to @JustSewTired for the discussion that lead to the post.