Choosing and buying happiness

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There’s a fascinating conversation going on right now around Dan Gilbert’s latest TEDTalk, “Exploring the frontiers of happiness,” posted yesterday. In the talk, Gilbert goes into detail on his research into choice, satisfaction and happiness. Several commenters are suggesting the headline is inaccurate, because the talk isn’t about happiness, per se, as much as about decisions. TED.com member Eliezer Israel calls it “a cogent exploration of rational decision-making.” What do you think — how are choice and happiness connected?

If you’d like to think further on this, check out today’s talk, about the absurd endgame of humanity’s search for happiness at any cost: Benjamin Wallace’s “Does happiness have a price tag?” In the name of pure research, Wallace looks for the most expensive things in the world and tries them out. I think his small questions — Does he really look sexier in $800 jeans? Would you let your dog sleep on a $40,000 mattress? — lead to the same big questions that Dan Gilbert asks.