the show: 09-21-06

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This episode of The Show sponsored by Enter code F-R-A-N-K from the link in the sidebar and get your .com domain name for $6.95 a year.

(Ray's Whip Ass song plays over images of dressed-up vacuum cleaners.)

So, that worked out.

That's how you sponsorship!

Now I can buy lights!

So it's the last day in Happy Week where I can't talk about the news. But, uh... yeah! I see, sir... chah! Where's (Ze pronounces "see, sir... chah! Where's" to sound like Cesar Chavez. SNEAKY!) she going?

(Manic laugh.) Get it? (Um... no? Cesar Chavez is an interesting figure in labor rights, but he died in 1993. The tags for the show today are "stumbling on, oops, hugo," so this was probably meant to be a reference to Venezuela president Hugo Chavez. Hugo made news recently when he gave a speech lambasting President Bush.)

So today is technically the last day of Happy Week because tomorrow is Ride the Fire Eagle Danger Day and the LoA (New Viewer Note: LoA stands for League of Awesomeness) said you can't interfere with that.

But maybe we can make it a happy Ride the Fire Eagle Danger Day. I don't know! (Laughter) A bom bom bom!

I wanted to talk a little bit about the science of happiness but it turns out that the science of happiness made me a little bit anxious. For example, psychologist Dan Gilbert just wrote a book called Stumbling on Happiness

In it, he says that a lot of the really big things that can happen in your life don't really have that much of an impact on your long-term happiness. Getting sick, not getting sick, getting a promotion, not getting a promotion, having your penis fall off, not having your penis fall off... it doesn't really matter in the long term!

Gilbert says that your brain has the ability to synthesize happiness to bring you back up to your baseline regardless of the circumstance that you find yourself in. And the synthesized happiness is just as real as happiness created by external circumstance!

And that's why people who spend decades in jail after being wrongly convicted say things like "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."

Or why Pete Best, the drummer who got kicked out of The Beatles, said that that was one of the best things that happened to him.

According to Gilbert, they're not bullshitting! They're actually happy!

Sounds pretty cool, right? There's one catch. It's called choice.

We live in a society that places a high value on being able to make choices. All the different kinds of tomato sauce... those badass buffets at Friday's... and no arranged marriages.

We agonize about the choices we make and simultaneously hold on to the ability to choose for as long as possible. Things on "final sale" or "the point of no return" kind of freak us out.

But Gilbert suggests that we're pretty damn bad at predicting the degree to which things will make us happy.

Those shoes, that girl, that job. It'll make you happy, but probably not as happy as you think.

But the reverse is also true! The things you worry are going to devastate you aren't going to be that bad. Those shoes, that girl, that job. The actual decision that you make doesn't really matter to the degree that you think it does.

But the stress and anxiety that you feel when you think that you have a choice does matter. It makes you less happy.

It appears that you're best at getting back to your baseline happiness when you're stuck in a given circumstance. The perception of having a choice interferes with that synthesized happiness.

So in the long run, you'll more likely be happy with that pair of shoes you got stuck with in a final sale than you will be with that pair of shoes that you have thirty days to exchange.

It seems like the best thing that you can do is just keep moving forward. Make a choice, and stick with it. Don't keep the other catalogues around after you buy that car. And toss the receipt on those pair of shoes.

In the long run, it'll work out.


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