TED Talk: "We think of our future as anticipated memories"


How do we measure happiness? What does it mean to be happy? How do we remember happiness? "It turns out the word happiness is just not a useful word anymore, because we apply it to many things," says Daniel Kahneman in a TED Talk about how we experience happiness, memory, and ourselves. (Or I should say our "selves," as Kahneman's talk suggests two distinct types of selves within each of us.) This is complex but fascinating stuff.

Discussed: ruining your memories, the experiencing self that lives in the present, the remembering self that maintains the story of your life, storytelling as a function of what we remember from our experiences, colonoscopies and pain reporting, how the end of an experience influences our memory of the overall event, how we think about time, how vacations serve the remembering self, how we weigh memories versus experiences, how someone can be satisfied with his life but that has little to do with how he's living his life day-to-day, "happiness is mainly...spending time with people we like," happiness is not a substitute for well-being, and how income below $60k affects happiness in America: "Money does not buy you experiential happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery."

You can also watch the talk in HD (MP4 video link).