Dan Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes -- and fool everyone’s eyes in the same way -- Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss.
The premise of his current research -- that our assumptions about what will make us happy are often wrong -- is supported with clinical research drawn from psychology and neuroscience. But his delivery is what sets him apart. His engaging -- and often hilarious -- style pokes fun at typical human behavior and invokes pop-culture references everyone can relate to.
How would you present this material in prisons? Is happiness a natural result of meditation practice? Or does one actively have to cultivate 'synthetic' happiness. Do you see prisoners become more 'happy' after practice? Do you personally choose happiness?What are your thoughts on this topic. Please share below.
This is a great video. Gilbert's researched-based ideas ring true in my experience. When one surrenders to an inescapable situation, like being in prison, profound new possibilities of happiness become possible. I actually experienced bliss and an abiding cheerfulness through surrendering to the painful reality of my long prison sentence and the almost unbearable separation from my loved ones, especially my son. It's not that the pain went away completely or that it didn't come up again, but somehow hitting the wall of that pain and opening to it rather than shutting down led to experiences of unconditional joy and and abiding positivity or happiness in my state of mind. Countless prisoners have spoken and written of the freedom they have found behind the walls. Jarvis Master's book, Finding Freedom, is based on this theme. His Holiness the Dalai Lama often speaks about our desire for happiness as being that which unifies all human beings, and that we someone keep grabbing the wrong end of the stick in our effort to be happy, thus creating unhappiness for ourselves and others. Gilbert's research appears to bear this out.
What about me! This powerful mantra runs a constant path throughout our minds, creating greater suffering. The desire to select only what serves me is powerful and it is easy to forget the suffering of others... thus, my suffering increases. Only through loving kindness toward myself can I see the loving kindness that resides inside others. Then, I am able to offer that loving kindness all around... the luminous gold of autumn, the brilliance of a winter sky at midnight, the desert sun, oceans, birds, salamanders, snails....
Thank you for the wisdom of the video.
If you work from the perspective that there are external, physical limitations on joy then aren't you still working in delusion? In fact, aren't you still caught in the inside/outside; good/bad picking and choosing kind of mind? If only I wasn't in prison..... But maybe you'd be just as "caught" on the outside.
Easy for me to say. I've never been in prison. But I've sure been in dead end relationships and jobs and I've felt unfree. In fact, I was always free to be free - I just didn't see the choice.
I don't think happiness is a natural result of meditation. But stability and clarity are.
Happiness is a state of mind an emotion that comes and goes. What makes us happy this second makes us unhappy the next second. I do not think in terms of happy or unhappy but in terms of positive mental states and negative mental states. Working with mental states is no different on the inside than it is on the outside. The two things we work the hardest with inmates are skillful actions vs. unskillful actions and positive mental states vs. negative mental states.
Great video! I wish I could show it to inmates. Since the prison I mainly go to is a remand prison and they haven't been sentenced yet, acceptance is hardest. Pointing fingers and blaming saps of lot of people's strength and takes the energy away from practice. They would like me to be sympathetic, which I am, but at the same time I don't want to encourage the "blame game". So acceptance is a constant theme together with "change what you can change," "deal with what you can deal" and before dealing, before changing, one needs to accept.
Then again, many are seeing the positives of being on the inside. They have begun to reflect on their lives, they are drug and alcohol free (some) and some are very excited about the Dharma. To these the issues that were some important yesterday hardly matter today, when they have a new and larger focus.
Thank you for posting the clip and for your site!!!!
--from The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Dr. Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
[do you have any thoughts about how a person could go about increasing their feeling of autonomy or freedom at work?]
...it will completely depend on the person's individual circumstances, what position they are in. Let's take the example of a prisoner. Now of course it is best not to be in prison, but even in that situation, where a person may be deprived of freedom, he or she may discover small choices that they are able to make. And even if somebody is in prison, with very rigid rules, they can undertake some spiritual practices to try to lessen their mental frustrations, try to get some peace of mind. So they can work on internal development...if people can do this under the extreme conditions of prison, in the workplace people may try to discover small things, small choices that they can make in how to go about their work. And of course, somebody may work on an assembly line with little variation in how to do their tasks, but they still have other kinds of choices in terms of their attitudes, how they interact with their co-workers, whether they utilize certain inner qualities or spiritual strengths to change their attitude at work even though the nature of the work may be difficult. Isn't it? So, perhaps that would help.
Of course, when you are talking about rigid rules and lack of freedom, that doesn't mean that you are required to blindly follow and accept everything others tell you. In instances where the worker might be exploited, where the employer thinks of nothing but profit and pays a small salary and demands a lot of overtime, or where one may be asked to do things that are not appropriate or are unethical, one should not simply think, "Well, this is my karma," and take no action. Here it is not enough to think, "I should just be content."
If there is injustice, then I think inaction is the wrong response. The Buddhist texts mention what is called "misplaced tolerance," or "misplaced forbearance." So...misplaced patience or forbearance refers to the sense of endurance that some individuals have when they are subject to a very destructive, negative activity. That is a misplaced forbearance and endurance. Similarly, in the work environment, if there is a lot of injustice and exploitation, then to passively tolerate it is the wrong response. The appropriate response really is to actively resist it, to try to change this environment rather than accept it. One should take some action...perhaps one could speak with the boss, with the management, and try to change these things. One needs to actively resist exploitation. And in some cases, one may simply need to quit and to look for other work.