Crippled CEO Blog #144:
Who is happier: Lucky Lou who won the $10 million lottery, or his twin sister, Bad Driver Debra, who was permanently injured in a car accident?
That seems like a crazy question, right?
But check this out.
Lou and Debra take one of the tests that psychologists have designed to determine how happy you are. They both get identical scores. Then, on the way home, Lucky Lou gets the call that he has won the lottery. At the same time, Bad Driver Debra smashes into a telephone pole. She survives, but she’s permanently injured, acquiring a limp for the rest of her life.
This scenario was highlighted in the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and it turns out, according to science, that if Lou and Debra take the same quiz two years later, as long as Debra’s injury is stable and she’s not in pain, they will score exactly the same — they will both be equally happy to each other, and just as happy as they were two years prior, even though Lou now lives in a mansion and Debra has a bad limp.
So, a debilitating car accident will make you just as happy as winning the lottery.
I can sense that you’re skeptical. I get it.
The reason for this is that happiness isn’t determined by our circumstances. I mean, technically, at the base level, happiness is exclusively determined by chemicals in our brain. But what makes your brain give you the chemicals that make you happy?
As long as your base needs are met, it’s not money. It’s not even health.
It’s the meeting of our expectations. Lou and Debra are equally happy because Lou expects to live in a mansion and drive a Bentley now — and he does — while Debra expects to live in her 3 bedroom home, drive a Toyota, and take a long time walking through the grocery store — and she does.
This is why your wife is thrilled if you give her a single red rose on a random Tuesday, but she is far less enthusiastic if you only give her that same rose on her 40th birthday — when she asked you for a car.
It is why you would be appalled at waiting 15 minutes to receive food for five people at McDonald’s, but you are perfectly happy with this wait at Ruth Chris. Likewise, the food you’d be just fine with at McDonald’s would make you very, very upset at the gourmet steakhouse.
It’s why my dad was amazed by Pong when it came out, but today’s gamers are disappointed by the latest Call of Duty. It’s why I’m overjoyed to be flashed by a moderately attractive lady at Publix, but I’m unfazed by a gaggle of naked performers at a strip club.
This is the reasoning behind my recent video (which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/WpKu1-TxQK4), where I explain how a good day for me, in my wheelchair with cerebral palsy, might be the worst day of your life, and a bad day for you might be the best day of mine. You wake up expecting to walk and dress yourself. I don’t. That’s why I’m not devastated by it every day.
If getting what we think we want is truly the only measure of happiness, having a happy life becomes much simpler. You can stop running around trying to make yourself happy by buying this thing, redecorating that thing, and achieving this other thing. You just need to want less. That’s it. If you can lower your expectations, you will increase your happiness. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. But it’s impossible to do if you don’t realize that it’s the secret. Now, you at least have a chance. Give it a shot. Just don’t expect too much.
(Do you know who got more than she expected last night? Your mom. Your mom also gets a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog post. Send a text to 561-726-1567 with the word CRIP as the message to get a link to the blog as soon as it’s up.
Did you know that I have a YouTube channel now? I do! I am putting up two videos every single week. Go search for Crippled CEO and you’ll find me. I would appreciate it if you subscribed.)