Multimedia journalism by Mariah Posey | March 30, 2017
Social psychologist and writer Daniel Gilbert has achieved multiple successes throughout his career: a TED Talk which remains one of the 15 most-popular of all time, his book “Stumbling on Happiness” that spent six months on The New York Times bestseller list, and the 2010 award-winning PBS television series “This Emotional Life” that he co-wrote which was watched by more than 10 million people. He is currently a contributor to The New York Times and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Gilbert has guested on a number of popular shows including “20/20” and “The Colbert Report,” but today he’s the popular guest at Elon University for its March 30 Spring Convocation at 3:30 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Gym.
Stay tuned below for live updates from the event with the most recent updates appearing at the top.
4:29 p.m. President Lambert thanks Gilbert for speaking.
“Class of 2017, I don’t want this talk to prevent you from creating class of 2047, however.”
4:28 p.m. “What makes humans happy is a scientific fact. Instead of turning to our mothers, we should be turning to science.”
4:26 p.m. “Marriage, money and children. That’s what my mom told me was the recipe to happiness. Was she lying?”
Gilbert says she was basically correct, but happiness for everyone is different because no one is average.
4:23 p.m. “The view of human happiness that I have presented is the view from outer space . . . It might not apply to you.”
4:17 p.m. Gilbert says children have been shown to reduce happiness, especially within mothers because they do most of the work.
4:14 p.m. Gilbert recommends two of the best ways to spend money:
- Experiences, because you can’t compare personal experiences to other people’s experiences like you can with material items.
- On other people
“The people who bought something for mom or sis or maybe your favorite professor are happier.”
4:12 p.m. “When people are resting, people are about as happy as they are at their miserable jobs. People aren’t happy when they’re resting because their mind wanders to things they’d rather be doing.”
4:11 p.m. “It turns out that the way people spend money is incorrect.”
4:10 p.m. Gilbert says money does lead to happiness, but not sustainably.
“The first dollar you earn improves your happiness a lot,” he says, but the “amount of happiness money can buy levels off” over time.
4:07 p.m. Gilbert explains how men do better than women after divorce. He offers some advice: “If your husband says he’s leaving you, kill him.”
4:05 p.m. Gilbert says marriage is great investment for your happiness, as it ensures at least 15-25 more years of happiness.
4:01 p.m. “Marriage causes happiness. Married people are happier than single people.”
4:00 p.m. Gilbert asks the audience how many believe marriage causes happiness.
“Okay, so none of the young people. That’s basically 0%. And I think I saw someone raise her husband’s hand.”
3:58 p.m. Gilbert’s mother, Doris Gilbert, gave him three steps to happiness when he was younger:
- Find a nice girl to settle down with.
- Make money. “‘It would be good if you were comfortable,'” she told him. “She didn’t mean my shoes. She meant move out of the house and not be on our dime.”
- Have children.
“In every human culture, moms basically tell their kids some version of this.”
3:56 p.m. There are scientific measures of happiness such as electromyography or EMG which analyzes human facial reactions, but Gilbert says that best approach is the “AP-Q” method — asking people questions.
3:53 p.m. Gilbert speaks on how the many theories of happiness are wrong.
“None of their theories are based on evidence. Luckily, scientists have gotten into the happiness business. Can we use the rules of science to figure out what makes people happy?”
3:50 p.m. Gilbert speaks on the unrealistic idea of happiness our ancestors had: “Happiness is what happens when you get what you want and that never happens in this lifetime on Earth.”
He continued, “Guess what? People who have everything they want aren’t any happier than the rest of us.”
3:49 p.m. “I’ve come here today to answer the world’s oldest questions: what is the secret to happiness? It’s not a secret and it’s not the world’s oldest question. It’s actually the world’s newest question.”
3:48 p.m. Gilbert responds to his introduction.
“I don’t want to stop there,” he said. “In fact I want to hear it again and then we can all go have drinks. That was the nicest introduction I’ve had.”
3:45 p.m Associate Professor of Psychology India Johnson introduces Gilbert. She thanks Gilbert for providing her the inspiration to start her journey to social psychology for his unconventional path.
3:44 p.m. “Dr. Gilbert welcome to Elon University. Your research on happiness relays two of our main points here . . . no matter our age we always have more to learn.” – President Lambert
3:39 p.m. “Higher education matters in terms of jobs, overall wellbeing, and joy in your life.” – President Lambert.
3:35 p.m. Joel Harter, associate chaplain for Protestant Life; Jessica Waldman, director of Jewish Life at Hillell; President Leo Lambert; India Johnson, assistant professor of psychology and Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce professor of psychology at Harvard University, take the stage.
3:29 p.m. Michel Delalande’s “Festival Prelude” plays to initiate the Academic Procession while Elon University faculty and staff along with students to be honored begin filing in.