We synthesize happiness. "I am so much better off", "I believe it turned out for the best", or "I don't have any regrets", but we think of happiness as something to be found.
In 2 million years, human brain has nearly trippled in mass, gaining new structures... mainly the prefrontal cortex which most importantly acts as an experience simulator... have experiences in our head before we try them out in real life. No other animal can do this quite like we can.
Impact bias is the tendency for this simulator to work badly - things actually have far less impact, less intensity, & much less duration than we expect them to have.
"Our longings and our worries are both
to some degree overblown,
because we have within us the capacity
to manufacture the very commodity
we are constantly chasing (happiness)
when we choose experience."
Some things are better than others, we should have preferences that lead us to one future over another, but when we over-rate the difference between these futures, we are at risk.
When our ambition is unbounded, it leads us to lie, cheat, hurt others, or to sacrifice things of real value.
When our fears are bounded, we are prudent, cautious, & thoughtful.
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