"I know what this causes in you!" "No, you don't!"

I see two types of different reactions:

  • “Hmm, I know the happiness this brings to people. I know how happy people will feel”. versus
  • “You had such a hard time doing X. You must feel so sad”.

Both of the above are false.

  • People tend to think they can predict happiness. They don’t. Happiness doesn’t come from a good job, good house, nice car. After a minimum is set (a place to live, something to eat, basic comfort), happiness doesn’t increase much with extra things. The coolest house on the beach, the latest sports car, the hugest Smart TV, the best PC / laptop – they all have minimum impact for happiness, after the initial “Uuu, this car is great!”. After a few weeks, the car doesn’t bring happiness anymore, be it a Mercedes or a Lada. This even applies to relations – a new job & a new boss; a new wife & a new family; a new friend. People get used to things remarkably fast, and after the initial emotions, things start to fade.
  • The same applies to negative emotions. “Oh, you’ve lost both of your parents. You must be so sad”. “Oh, he has no legs. He just can’t be happy”. “Oh, he had a tough event as a child, he must feel miserable about that”. People tend to think that a major negative event in a person’s life will affect that person a lot. While, surely, there is a potential in having an easy-setting life, though things are not that related to unhappiness as we tend to think.

Why do these things happen?

  • For one, different people have different reactions to different things. From the relationship with God, to how one person sees the relationships with others, people act & react differently. A grandmother can be a very important person in my life, while for others it may not be. Losing a watch can be a great deal for me, while for others it’s just a watch.
  • The second thing, we get incredibly better at getting used to things. No hands? Sure, it’s inconvenient. But unhappy? It may as well not be. “You have no hands, you must feel unhappy”. Actually, no!

I hear from time to time people claiming they know what’s inside a person based on an event. This is false. What’s even more puzzling is that the person things he’s/she’s unhappy too, even if it may not be so. So, if there’s a general conception of “You have a kid, you must be happy”, that person will not question this, even if the reaction may be different than the general rule.

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