Important to measure, even more important to grow. It consists of good, even temperament (20%); abundant humor (20%); inclination to see the bright side (20%); health and wellness (20%); and smarts, looks & luck (20%). If that’s true, and it seems as reasonable a formula as any, it’s good news, because most of it is under our own control. Good, even temperament: practice meditation, cultivate perspective. Abundant humor: enjoy the seemingly random if not perverse nature of the universe. Inclination to see the bright side: accept that light and dark emanate from the same source — how we see the world — and we are (almost always) free to choose. Health and wellness: stay active, exercise daily, eat right.
The reason economics is such an inexact science is that it’s so dismal at understanding the vagaries of human nature. Take pricing, about which people are supposed to be so sensitive. When I order two lattes, a banana and two paninis at Starbucks, I don’t run the calculations in my head, and I snap to attention only if the barista rings it up above a certain, call it the “alarm,” price point, in this case maybe $20. But anything in the teens sounds “about right” and I pay and leave without giving it further thought. And I think that’s how people are with most inexpensive purchases: they have a vague sense of the “right” amount of money to pay, within a certain range, and only above that do alarm bells sound.
Time travel is always intriguing, but it doesn’t teach us much about ourselves. We’d learn a great deal more if we could propel a few cave people to the present. They would surely admire our science – and be frightened by our culture, aghast at our obesity and slovenliness, stunned at our war-making capacities and dumbfounded that human nature has not progressed whatsoever.