Gilbert highlights the notion of Impact Bias: "tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of future feeling states." Example: both lottery winners and paraplegics feel about the same level of happiness after a year.
Why? Here are some reasons & insights:
There is a sort of psychological immune system that allows us to synthesize happiness.
Despite our feeling that "natural happiness" (when we get what we want) is somehow superior to "synthetic happiness" (when we don't get what we want) they are both about the same in quality.
Synthetic happiness actually changes your intrinsic preferences and outlook.
Irreversible conditions promote synthetic happiness. However, people think they would prefer reversible decisions.
Ever catch yourself synthesizing happiness?
- The idea for this post was incorrectly attributed. It was actually from a post Reader Survey: Which Personal-Finance Books Should I Review? at GetRichSlowly. I apologize for the error.