The surprising science of happiness, From Tedtalks, Dan Gilbert, 2004
“Because happiness can be synthesized” was said by Dan Gilbert at his talk at the TEDTalks 2004 to share his point of view about what the meaning behind the definition of happiness is. It was an interesting fact that he spent significant time to do some experiments and interviews to explore and observe the true meaning of happiness. Then, he arrived at the point that happiness actually can be synthesized.
Human beings are very smart creatures that have developed their ability of adaptation for life and survive with a very incredible process. This fact also has been supported by the evidence of evolutionary time in development of pre-frontal cortex which has responsibility for experience simulator. It means that human beings tend to avoid their mistake for the second time or even process something in their mind before something unpleasant in life happens. It is such a complicated process inside human’s brain.
Then Gilbert has come to two types of happiness, i.e. natural happiness that is defined as what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness that is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted. This synthetic happiness is believed generally as something more inferior compared to the natural one. These types of happiness may come when winning or losing something (job, awards, romantic partner, families, money, etc.) happened in human’s life. The synthetic happiness concept can mean that we can still be happy even though we are in the process of losing something.
Gilbert explained that human beings have “psychological immune system” that can help them change their views of the world. It means that in terms of winning or losing, it would depend on the interpretation for define it is as a happiness or not. It is also evidence that we can synthesize happiness or we can find happiness even in a very sad condition.
This concept emphasized that actually human has ability to control the happiness. Compared to natural happiness, although being said as inferior, synthetic happiness is real and comes when acknowledging that what human beings have is better than what you lost. Gilbert’s experiment for some patients with anterograde amnesia has proved it because honestly it is hard to fake synthetic happiness when the patients cannot remember it very well.
Human beings ability to find happiness in a particular situation that can be changed or not depends on the factor called choice. When a situation is unpleasant and unchangeable, human brains can adapt to it, but when there is a better situation that they can do something about it, and then they can choose to change it. But the decision is in human being themselves, because they can control their happiness and even synthetize it.