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Risking Happiness: Unveiling the Path to Joy through Embracing the Unexpected


Over the past few months we have talked about a lot interesting topics surrounding happiness. And through this shared curiosity of this elusive, and yet all too present feeling, we have gotten to know each other. So I think it’s finally time to tell you a bit more about myself


Let’s start with the big part of my life: My Type A personality. I like a plan, a SMART goal and a ToDo list. And then a plan for the plan and a goal for the goal and a ToDo List to tackle my ToDo List. You might say that I love to be able to predict the outcomes of my day down to the last grape I pre-packed for myself to snack on.


So when starting this blog I held what I thought was an obvious belief: Do things that might make you happy, to stay happy. Put another way, it seems like all you need to do to be happy is identify the things that could bring you happiness, and keep doing those things.


Right?


Well sort of.


Unfortunately, like most things, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. It turns that our brains are tricking us. Again.


Side Note: to anyone that’s keeping score this second time I’ve heard that my brain isn’t being honest with me. The first is having a full stomach before my brain tells me I’m full. So personally I'm getting a little tired of this.



Anyway, it turns out that doing what we THINK will make us happy doesn’t always make us happy. So let’s take this post to dive into what the hell I’m talking about and win one against our own brains!


It has to do with our Frontal Lobe. Yes, that same lobe that helps you form coherent thoughts and makes you a little bit more evolved then your dog, for example. The interesting thing about our Frontal Lobe is that is has an interesting ability to “predict the future”. But before you get excited and start thinking that TikTok witch was right about your special powers, hear we out. It’s not that your frontal lobe can predict the future, it’s more so that it can imagine one.


Humans have evolved to the point that prior to completing an action we can actually imagine an outcome and alter our actions in order to bring forth a desired outcome. So before your significant other gives you the seemingly perfect present, they can already imagine the huge grin on your face when you open it.


But, of course, there is a catch. Once again our brain just has to make everything a little too complicated. Because when you get that present that looks like a cheap Clare’s knockoff, you might have a slightly different expression on your face than the one they imagined. So oftentimes, our imagined outcomes do not line up with the actual events. Leading, for example, to every break up ever.


But fear not, because we have an ally in this battle against the brain and his name is Dan Gilbert. In 2004, Dan gave an amazing Ted Talk ,that you can watch here, talking about how we have 2 kinds of happiness. The first is the kind of happiness you feel when you get what you wanted, and the second is the happiness you create when you get what you didn’t know you wanted. The second type of happiness is called ‘Synthetic Happiness’ and Dan Gilbert stipulates that this is type of happiness is much more long-lasting and rewarding.


So what does this mean? It means that we are almost always guessing wrong when it comes to matter of happiness. What we think will make us happy will almost never make us happy as we think in the longterm ! In other words, our brains pretty much lied.


Feel free to take all the time you need to mourn this betrayal by the thing behind your eyes, but once you’re ready, I have a comeback plan, and it has to do with Synthetic Happiness.


As Dan Gilbert stated, the thing that gives you most happiness is the unknown or unexpected outcome taking place. So how are we supposed to pursue that? If the goal of this blog is to try to find more happiness, but that happiness lies in unexpected places, then how do we acquire it?


Well the answer is simple. It is to take more risks. Do the thing that you aren’t sure is ‘for you’. Try the thing that scares, that excites, or that just confuses you.


Happiness could be anywhere and you don’t have to only try the things that  YOU THINK might make you happy, you can chase anything. Who knows it could be in the sunrise you see when you wake up or maybe the gloomy NYC sky makes you feel cozy in the morning. The point is that I don’t know and neither do you.


If you’re like me, you spend so much scheduling out your life and doing everything just right. But maybe happiness lies in the imperfection, or in the discovery of something new or something old you just haven’t noticed yet. And I hate to say it, but maybe, just maybe, it lies in the journey.


So if the point of this blog is to talk about everything that could lead to happiness, then something we might have to consider is that anything can lead to happiness.


I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I am going to spend more time doing differently and stepping away from the routine I’m so proud of. Because there’s nothing stopping from taking a few more risks, and in fact it might just help. And I’ll make sure to tell you all about it :)

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