Gilbert discusses comparison shopping and perceived Value in the role of Economics, and the goal of Happiness. He demonstrates how comparison shopping tends to give us a fleeting and false Value in the attaining of any goal.
The Comparison that we make prior to an event, is not the same comparison after the event, thus The Value changes. We tend to put a high Value on an Outcome, that then diminishes After the Outcome. Let’s take a look at one of his examples-
- Two rooms have a table with identical bags of potato chips on them. A student goes into either room and is asked to rate how much they WILL like the Potato chips. The unspoken difference between the two rooms, is what ELSE is on the table, off to the side. Room A has decadent chocolates and tasty candy, while the Room B has a can of Spam, canned haggis (yummy, I know) and other not so appealing snacks. Room A folks predicted they would enjoy the potato chips minimally, about 1 out of 5. Room B people predicted they would like the same chips at a much higher value of 5. After tasting the same chips, both Rooms valued the chips at the same level of 3! It was only due to the subliminal comparisons that their Expected Values were created.
- Very interesting study, and check his video out for more fun examples.
I believe that process is what most of us do with Life as well. In Comparison to Today’s circumstances, we build an expected Value of what something will bring us. “When such and such happens, it’ll be so nice. That will make me so happy.” However, IT finally comes and the Comparison fades away, and the overestimated Value with it. This “Future Value” quickly becomes our “Present Value” and we begin to look for a new comparison to “make us Happy,” and on and on.
Value is dependent upon our observation point. When we change our observation platform, Value changes. No wonder so many spiritual leaders, whom we seek advise on how to be happy, tell us to live in the now.
Take a look at your life. The Value of an event or item that you’ve attained over the last year has probably already changed since you got it. Are you still enjoying the same Value you perceived prior to having it? It’s sometimes hard to tell, isn’t it?
Definitely food for thought. Before you place your Happiness in that futuristic event or item again – take another look. Look at your life, now. Do you have things that you used to “really really want”? Well, is your Happiness here yet?
Use this idea as Freedom from having to have Outcomes for your Happiness.
Maybe that’s the whole secret to the power of Appreciation! To enjoy the Feelings of Value that you have already brought about – without comparing to an over-rated, mis-conceived future.
(image from www.speedofcreativity.org)