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Can we reduce unhappiness and dissatisfaction by being aware of how doubts over having made the right choice affects us?

In Dan Gilbert's talk, 'Why are we happy?', he discusses his research, which compares levels of happiness given different situations. Specifically, he shows that when someone isn't given a choice, they are at times happier with the choice, because they don't question whether or not they made the correct choice. Or, if they are given a choice, but no opportunity to change it afterwards, they are happier about the choice. Alternatively, if they are given the opportunity to change their choice, they will be less satisfied with the initial choice, questioning whether or not it was the best one. My question is how awareness of this can affect your happiness and satisfaction with the choices that you make, ideally to make you happier with the choices you make, an idea not addressed in Gilbert's video.

In addition to this, he talks of how most occurrences in life don't have long term effects on our happiness. Would awareness of this help you to deal well, or perhaps more appropriately, with events in your life?

Between the two of those questions, I suppose what I am truly asking is, "Can we consciously manufacture our own happiness, and if so, how? Are there studies on it, that effectively address this question (though personal thoughts that aren't backed by studies are also of course important and useful)?

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    Oct 14 2011: I interpreted his talk as actually containing the answer to your question. I felt he said that yes, we do manufacture our own happiness. And that the way to deal with choice is to realize that the choices we make don't matter as much as we think they do. (Because the happiness that lasts is the happiness we synthesize, and that kind of happiness is virtually unrelated to our choices.)

    For another perspective on this, check out Sonja Lyubomirsky's book, "The How of Happiness" in which she presents the research-based viewpoint that only about 10% of our happiness is actually dictated by our circumstances, about 40% is under our control (= Dan Gilbert's "synthetic happiness" I think), and the other 50% is driven by our biological "set point".

    So if circumstances only affect 10% of our happiness, then then we should stop worrying over the choices we've made and get on with enjoying the 40% we can create.
  • Oct 15 2011: For me hapiness is not about the choice, it is about the satisfaction conquered as result of the lived experience..It is always easier for people to blame the choice instead of looking deeper within to reveal the real answer for a not positive outcome