Self-actualization not happiness

January 21, 2012

I am reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, and he suggests that happiness or a good mood might actually impair logic:

“…when in a good mood, people become more intuitive and more creative but also less vigilant and more prone to logical errors.” (p.68)

He provides other examples where even being forced to smile by holding a pencil horizontally in their mouth makes people more impressionable.

Increasing happiness too much arguably produces less dynamic cognition depending on your current balance of intuitive or logical thinking. Though people focused heavily on logic could probably benefit by being intuitive more often.

Self-actualization or fulfilling one’s potential, though more ambiguous, is a richer goal than happiness.

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7 Responses to “Self-actualization not happiness”

  1. I’d be interested to hear how ‘happiness’ is defined. I don’t think I associate being forced to smile with happiness.

    • sjackisch said

      Have you tried it?

      • sjackisch said

        The idea that the physical manifestation of happiness is an inherent part of happiness is consistent with the embodied cognition model that I subscribe to. I can’t say that I have cheered myself up by forcing a smile myself though.

        Are you skeptical that a good mood reduces your ability to think logically?

      • The pencil has been shown to influence things such as how funny people think a cartoon is. That suggests a mood change approximating happiness, but the effect is small enough that I can’t tell much by introspection.

        I believe that a good mood can make me overconfident, but it might also increase my effective IQ, so it’s not clear what the overall effect is on something as broad as my “ability to think logically”.

  2. […] Bill Jarrold told me to check out the “How of Happiness.”  And so I shall put aside my skepticism about the importance of happiness; Bill is never full of […]

  3. […] Bill Jarrold told me to check out the “How of Happiness.”  And so I shall put aside my skepticism about the importance of happiness; Bill is never full of […]

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