Dan Gilbert in his talk about Synthetic Happiness says whether you win the lottery or become a paraplegic, three months later you will be equally happy. We adapt to our circumstances.

We synthesize our happiness. Given a choice between two paintings where you can’t change your mind, most people come to believe that the one they chose was best, and the other not. Given a choice where we can change our minds, we remain uncertain what the best choice is.

Studies show that material possessions don’t deliver much happiness on their own, because we quickly get used to them. Here are some of the things that bring happiness: spending time with family and friends, a partner you love, good meals, getting enough sleep, moderate exercise, and a healthy sex life.

Ever noticed how the Filipino nannies often seem happier than their wealthy employers?

Giving up our childhood prejudices

When Johnny Miller said on NBC last weekend that Rocco Mediate was more like a guy who should be cleaning Tiger Wood’s pool than challenging him in the US Open, I laughed. Later, when he said he wasn’t sure a name like Rocco could go on the US Open trophy, I realized it was just old-fashioned prejudice, the kind we practiced in grade school long ago when there weren’t many Roccos in the school.

Johnny and I are about the same age and both of us could be called WASPs. When we were in school 50+ years ago we made fun of those who were not WASPS, a category that Rocco would have been in. But we were kids and it was the 1950’s. It was bad enough then but Johnny, this is 2008. We have grown up and are more enlightened. We are all equal, whether our name is Johnny or Rocco. A ‘Johnny’ could be cleaning a ‘Rocco’s’ pool. A ‘Rocco’ could have his name on the US Open trophy. Almost did.