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Saturday, December 01, 2007


Brian Mulligan

I suspect (and I think I may have read this elsewhere) that the key to this is "expectations". The single biggest influence on our happiness seems to be the relationship between our expectations and actual reality. In our early years our expectations seem to be balanced, or even exceeded by our perception of our great potential for achieving these expectations. As we get older, we realise that life is short and our abilities are limited and we become more miserable as we realise that we are not going to achieve these. Later again we reduce these expectations and possibly reach the wisdom of realising that these were not required for happiness anyway and thus cheer up.

One little corollary of this in economics - advertising may decrease happiness in society by raising expectations without increasing the capacity to fulfill them.


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