As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert points out, most of us make three important decisions in our lives: where to live, what to do and with whom to do it. But the reality is that we’re really the first human beings to make those decisions.
For most of recorded time, people lived where they were born and they followed their parents’ jobs. Millers milled, smiths smithed, carpenters hammered, and coopers made barrels. All of them associated with people who did the same. They married whom and when they were told.
The agricultural, industrial and technological revolutions changed everything, producing personal liberties, opinions and a dizzying number of choices. For the first time, happiness became our responsibility and we had the element of control.
While economists are now looking at such happiness-related concepts as the “indifference curve” and measuring utility in “utils”, the trouble is most practitioners of the dismal science seem clueless when it comes to basic psychology.