Tidbits on the road to happiness, or: According to my fingers I’m male!

Just finished reading The Happiness Trip by Eduardo Punset. It offers a scientific journey into various aspects related to happiness (or the lack thereof!) and ends with Punset offering a mathematical equation for happiness. I found the book academic but maybe it’s because I really wanted the search for happiness to be much less complex 🙂 than portrayed. However, there were some interesting facts and tidbits along the way:

Whatever you think, your brain believes. Humans only need to imagine having a bad time to actually trigger the same emotions as when they really experience bad times (p. 57)!

I do and I don’t! Unlike animals, humans can have mixed emotions. We can love and hate at the same time (p. 30).

Blame it on the set point. Everyone is supposedly born with a certain set point or window for their height, their level of happiness and, wait for it….. weight! The reality is that genetics prevails over diets in an overwhelmingly high percentage of cases, and over happiness in approximately 50 percent of cases (p. 76). Isn’t that comforting to know? 🙂 If a fetus is deprived of certain nutrients in the third trimester of gestation, its metabolism changes forever. This is called “metabolic programming/imprinting” and can be used to predict obesity, diabetes and hypertension later in life (p. 102).

Why competition is good for you. When a herd of antelope flees from a lioness, the main adversary of the slowest animal is not the lioness, but the faster antelope (p. 80). So that is why our society is so focused on competition. We have to be prepared for that lioness.

The past is alive and kicking!  The rate of cardiovascular incidents and rheumatism is higher among the poor than the rich. Even after the poor have grown rich! (p. 92) This simple test is apparently a more reliable health indicator than your actual socioeconomic status: It’s not so much a case of being poor, but of feeling poor (p. 99). An echo of poverty remains in place even two generations after a family has put poverty behind them. It lives on in their attitudes, anxieties, and insecurities that arose due to a feeling of unprotectedness (p. 102).

You have to clean out the rubbish bin. Unlearning is important. It is not what you don’t know that makes you unhappy but, to paraphrase Mark Twain, what you know for sure that just is not so (p. 132).

According to my fingers I’m male! The index finger tends to be shorter than the ring finger in men while the two fingers tend to be the same in women due to hormone fluxes during the fetal period (p. 59). A, you see why I need to get in touch with my feminine side.

 So what do I take away from this book about happiness? This simple truth: happiness is the absence of fear (p. 145). Maybe I should reread Feel the fear and do it anyway (Susan Jeffers, was it?). Surely I’ll improve my happiness then… Oh, unless my happiness set point objects…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sanette
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 14:38:32

    then we are a brotherhood, me and you! my index finger is also shorter than my ring finger – quite a bit in fact…. 🙂


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