Split-brain studies are important for this book because they show in such a dramatic way that one of these modules is good at inventing convincing explanations for your behavior, even when it has no knowledge of the causes of your behavior. Gazzaniga’s “interpreter module” is, essentially, the rider.
Automatic processes, on the other hand, have been through thousands of product cycles and are nearly perfect. This difference in maturity between automatic and controlled processes helps explain why we have inexpensive computers that can solve logic, math, and chess problems better than any human beings can (most of us struggle with these tasks), but none of our robots, no matter how costly, can walk through the woods as well as the average six-year-old child (our perceptual and motor systems are superb).
I believe the Scottish philosopher David Hume was closer to the truth than was Plato when he said, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
Two people feel strongly about an issue, their feelings come first, and their reasons are invented on the fly, to throw at each other. When you refute a person’s argument, does she generally change her mind and agree with you? Of course not, because the argument you defeated was not the cause of her position; it was made up after the judgment was already made.
In moral arguments, the rider goes beyond being just an advisor to the elephant; he becomes a lawyer, fighting in the court of public opinion to persuade others of the elephant’s point of view.
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. —BUDDHA
Beck’s discovery is that you can break the cycle by changing the thoughts. A big part of cognitive therapy is training clients to catch their thoughts, write them down, name the distortions, and then find alternative and more accurate ways of thinking.
Dunbar suggests that language evolved as a replacement for physical grooming. Language allows small groups of people to bond quickly and to learn from each other about the bonds of others. Dunbar notes that people do in fact use language primarily to talk about other people—to find out who is doing what to whom, who is coupling with whom, who is fighting with whom. And Dunbar points out that in our ultrasocial species, success is largely a matter of playing the social game well.
Gossip creates a non-zero-sum game because it costs us nothing to give each other information, yet we both benefit by receiving information.
Gossip extends our moral-emotional toolkit. In a gossipy world, we don’t just feel vengeance and gratitude toward those who hurt or help us; we feel pale but still instructive flashes of contempt and anger toward people whom we might not even know. We feel vicarious shame and embarrassment when we hear about people whose schemes, lusts, and private failings are exposed. Gossip is a policeman and a teacher. Without it, there would be chaos and ignorance.
Franklin concluded: “So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.”
Meditation is the Eastern way of training yourself to take things philosophically.
We can call this “the progress principle”: Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.
This is the adaptation principle at work: People’s judgments about their present state are based on whether it is better or worse than the state to which they have become accustomed. Adaptation is, in part, just a property of neurons: Nerve cells respond vigorously to new stimuli, but gradually they “habituate,” firing less to stimuli that they have become used to. It is change that contains vital information, not steady states.
In every permanent situation, where there is no expectation of change, the mind of every man, in a longer or shorter time, returns to its natural and usual state of tranquility. In prosperity, after a certain time, it falls back to that state; in adversity, after a certain time, it rises up to it.
Buddha, Epictetus, and many other sages saw the futility of the rat race and urged people to quit. They proposed a particular happiness hypothesis: Happiness comes from within, and it cannot be found by making the world conform to your desires. Buddhism teaches that attachment leads inevitably to suffering and offers tools for breaking attachments. The Stoic philosophers of Ancient Greece, such as Epictetus, taught their followers to focus only on what they could fully control, which meant primarily their own thoughts and reactions. All other events—the gifts and curses of fortune—were externals, and the true Stoic was unaffected by externals. Neither Buddha nor the Stoics urged people to withdraw into a cave. In fact, both doctrines have such enduring appeal precisely because they offer guidance on how to find peace and happiness while participating in a treacherous and ever-changing social world. Both doctrines are based on an empirical claim, a happiness hypothesis that asserts that striving to obtain goods and goals in the external world cannot bring you more than momentary happiness. You must work on your internal world.
The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu treatise on nonattachment.
Pleasures should be both savored and varied. The French know how to do this: They eat many fatty foods, yet they end up thinner and healthier than Americans, and they derive a great deal more pleasure from their food by eating slowly and paying more attention to the food as they eat it. Because they savor, they ultimately eat less.
The big finding was that people experienced longer-lasting improvements in mood from the kindness and gratitude activities than from those in which they indulged themselves. Even though people were most nervous about doing the kindness and gratitude activities, which required them to violate social norms and risk embarrassment, once they actually did the activities they felt better for the rest of the day.
Performing a random act of kindness every day could get tedious, but if you know your strengths and draw up a list of five activities that engage them, you can surely add at least one gratification to every day. Studies that have assigned people to perform a random act of kindness every week, or to count their blessings regularly for several weeks, find small but sustained increases in happiness
Most activities that cost more than a hundred dollars are things we do with other people, but expensive material possessions are often purchased in part to impress other people. Activities connect us to others; objects often separate us.
As a first step, work less, earn less, accumulate less, and “consume” more family time, vacations, and other enjoyable activities.
Modern life is full of traps. Some of these traps are set by marketers and advertisers who know just what the elephant wants—and it isn’t happiness.
If you want your children to grow up to be healthy and independent, you should hold them, hug them, cuddle them, and love them. Give them a secure base and they will explore and then conquer the world on their own.
Sex is for reproduction; lasting love is for mothers and children. So why are people so different?
True love exists, I believe, but it is not—cannot be—passion that lasts forever. True love, the love that undergirds strong marriages, is simply strong companionate love, with some added passion, between two people who are firmly committed to each other.
There are several reasons why real human love might make philosophers uncomfortable. First, passionate love is notorious for making people illogical and irrational, and Western philosophers have long thought that morality is grounded in rationality.
Durkheim concluded that people need obligations and constraints to provide structure and meaning to their lives: “The more weakened the groups to which [a man] belongs, the less he depends on them, the more he consequently depends only on himself and recognizes no other rules of conduct than what are founded on his private interests.”
The second class of benefit concerns relationships. Adversity is a filter.
But adversity doesn’t just separate the fair-weather friends from the true; it strengthens relationships and it opens people’s hearts to one another.
Trauma seems to shut off the motivation to play Machiavellian tit for tat with its emphasis on self-promotion and competition.
This change in ways of relating points to the third common benefit: Trauma changes priorities and philosophies toward the present (“Live each day to the fullest”) and toward other people.
I don’t want to celebrate suffering, prescribe it for everyone, or minimize the moral imperative to reduce it where we can. I don’t want to ignore the pain that ripples out from each diagnosis of cancer, spreading fear along lines of kinship and friendship. I want only to make the point that suffering is not always all bad for all people. There is usually some good mixed in with the bad, and those who find it have found something precious: a key to moral and spiritual development.
When people report having grown after coping with adversity, they could be trying to describe a new sense of inner coherence. This coherence might not be visible to one’s friends, but it feels like growth, strength, maturity, and wisdom from the inside.
I saw the right way and approved it, but followed the wrong, until an emotion came along to provide some force.
MacIntyre says that the loss of a language of virtue, grounded in a particular tradition, makes it difficult for us to find meaning, coherence, and purpose in life.
The vastness and beauty of nature similarly stirs the soul. Immanuel Kant explicitly linked morality and nature when he declared that the two causes of genuine awe are “the starry sky above and the moral law within.”
In the happiness formula from chapter 5, H(appiness) = S(etpoint) + C(onditions) + V(oluntary activities), what exactly is C? The biggest part of C, as I said in chapter 6, is love. No man, woman, or child is an island. We are ultrasocial creatures, and we can’t be happy without having friends and secure attachments to other people. The second most important part of C is having and pursuing the right goals, in order to create states of flow and engagement. In the modern world, people can find goals and flow in many settings, but most people find most of their flow at work.
Effectance is almost as basic a need as food and water, yet it is not a deficit need, like hunger, that is satisfied and then disappears for a few hours.
More recent research finds that most people approach their work in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling.
Love and work are crucial for human happiness because, when done well, they draw us out of ourselves and into connection with people and projects beyond ourselves. Happiness comes from getting these connections right. Happiness comes not just from within, as Buddha and Epictetus supposed, or even from a combination of internal and external factors (as I suggested as a temporary fix at the end of chapter 5). The correct version of the happiness hypothesis, as I’ll illustrate below, is that happiness comes from between.
Plants thrive under particular conditions, and biologists can now tell us how sunlight and water get converted into plant growth. People thrive under particular conditions, and psychologists can now tell us how love and work get converted into happiness and a sense of meaning.
Here is one of the most profound ideas to come from the ongoing synthesis: People gain a sense of meaning when their lives cohere across the three levels of their existence.
- Capa comum: 297 páginas
- Editora: Basic Books (AZ); Edição: 1 (26 de dezembro de 2006)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0465028020
- ISBN-13: 978-0465028023
- Dimensões do produto: 15,2 x 3 x 22,9 cm
- Peso de envio: 408 g
- Avaliações dos clientes: 645 classificações de cliente
- Lista de mais vendidos da Amazon: Nº 106,630 em Livros (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Livros)