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Can you predict happiness?

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.I remember when I read “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov; the idea to predict what people will do based on previous events was very interesting. But this future is closer and closer. We, as human beings, follow some patterns and we hardly get out of this patterns. The scientists have come with a way to predict the happiness of the people based on their expectations. And I think this is only the┬ábeginning trying to predict human┬ábehavior.

 

The happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide has been predicted by a mathematical equation developed by researchers at UCL, with results showing that moment-to-moment happiness reflects not just how well things are going, but whether things are going better than expected.

The new equation accurately predicts exactly how happy people will say they are from moment to moment based on recent events, such as the rewards they receive and the expectations they have during a decision-making task. Scientists found that overall wealth accumulated during the experiment was not a good predictor of happiness. Instead, moment-to-moment happiness depended on the recent history of rewards and expectations. These expectations depended, for example, on whether the available options could lead to good or bad outcomes.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, investigated the relationship between happiness and reward, and the neural processes that lead to feelings that are central to our conscious experience, such as happiness. Before now, it was known that life events affect an individual’s happiness but not exactly how happy people will be from moment to moment as they make decisions and receive outcomes resulting from those decisions, something the new equation can predict.

Scientists believe that quantifying subjective states mathematically could help doctors better understand mood disorders, by seeing how self-reported feelings fluctuate in response to events like small wins and losses in a smartphone game. A better understanding of how mood is determined by life events and circumstances, and how that differs in people suffering from mood disorders, will hopefully lead to more effective treatments.

The team used functional MRI to demonstrate that neural signals during decisions and outcomes in the task in an area of the brain called the striatum can be used to predict changes in moment-to-moment happiness. The striatum has a lot of connections with dopamine neurons, and signals in this brain area are thought to depend at least partially on dopamine. These results raise the possibility that dopamine may play a role in determining happiness.

I find very interesting the find that the major factor in out happiness is the expectation. We can have everything, but if we want more we will be unhappy. And this is also the base concept of meditation: letting go of the unnecessary desires. Because wanting what you can’t have will cause you unhappiness. And now this is also proven by science. But, sadly, we are wired and taught to always want more, and to desire what we can’t have. This is way is so important to meditate, in order to break the chain of social┬ádesires and find true happiness! Happiness is a choice…

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