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The Impact Bias: How to be Happy When Everything Goes Wrong

Extreme events and happiness

Extreme positive and extreme negative events don't actually influence our long-term levels of happiness nearly as much as we think they would. But we have a strong tendency to overestimate the impact that extreme events will have on our lives.

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The Impact Bias: How to be Happy When Everything Goes Wrong

The Impact Bias: How to be Happy When Everything Goes Wrong

https://jamesclear.com/impact-bias

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

Extreme events and happiness

Extreme positive and extreme negative events don't actually influence our long-term levels of happiness nearly as much as we think they would. But we have a strong tendency to overestimate the impact that extreme events will have on our lives.

The Impact Bias

It's present when we tend to overestimate the length or intensity of happiness that major events will create. The Impact Bias is one example of affective forecasting, which is a social psychology phenomenon that refers to our generally terrible ability as humans to predict our future emotional states.

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The main barriers to accurate affective forecasting:

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  • Projection Bias: However you feel in the present, you tend to project that onto the future. 
  • Focalism: When picturing an event in the future, you tend to focus only on that event, to the exclusion of everything else that may happen.

“Our ability to look into the future and think about what will make us most happy is the way that we get to a present that pleases us.”

“Our ability to look into the future and think about what will make us most happy is the way that we get to a present that pleases us.”

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