I stumbled upon Dr. Laurie Santos’ podcast through Jay Shetty – she’s a professor of psychology and head of Silliman College at Yale University.
Her podcast series is a scientific approach to happiness and our pursuit of it. In this episode, she discusses reference points, and how they define your happiness. She discussed how Olympic silver medallists are least happy when you compare them to the gold and bronze winners and how they even die younger than the Bronze and Gold winners.
She discusses a silver lining when it comes to social FOMO: seeing other people thrive and “do better”, which on the one hand, evoke a feeling of sadness in yourself because you somehow weren’t good enough to attain that level. On the other hand, though, you feel motivated and inspired to work harder in order to attain that level of happiness (or our painted picture of happiness). Thís I identify strongly with myself: one day I unfollow accounts on social media because I “they make me feel bad”, while the other day I will go on a “follow-streak” because “they motivate me!!!👹”.
Santos further mentions a test where people were tested on either earning $50K where anyone else would earn $20K or earning $100K where everyone else around you would earn $200K. Surprisingly (or not..) most people opted for option B 🤯🤯🤯.
Another example she gives is the Dutch Postcode Loterij where one participates with its own postal code. If you didn’t buy a ticket, but your neighbours did, you’ll lose out when the jackpot hits that postal code area. Imagine your neighbours winning the lottery, and you didn’t. Loser much? Social pressure much? FOMO dumb homo sapiens much?
Santos discusses reframing that mindset, to shift your reference points, to compare to positive rather than negative happiness points, to count your blessings and to have strong internal motivation rather than external, all in order to sustain a happier and longer life.
📍Most of the things in our lives are about the pursuit of happiness: the journey with all its ups and downs is what will give us most bliss.