“The future is made to be changed.” — Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”
Gilbert proposes that the well-balanced person will always overestimate the happiness of a future event. The only people who have a realistic view of the future are the clinically depressed. The mind paints an image of the past or future based on current emotions. The mind is asking the emotions: “How would you feel in this situation?” But the emotions are focused on that particular situation and they can’t account for everything.
One of Gilbert’s examples was the study of the perceptions before and after a college game. Days before, the participants said that they would be very happy on game day. On the actual day, they reported that their happiness was decent. But days after, they said that they were very happy on game day. This example, Gilbert said, illustrates that even memory fails to correct our capabilities to gauge happiness.
Here is his TED talk on synthesizing happiness:
Maybe we can mold the future because we dream beyond the possible. That dreaming challenges us and helps us grow beyond the status quo. This applies to all areas, especially the spiritual. The Apostle Paul writes in his first letters to the Corinthians: “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” That dream of heaven helps drive Christians to grow in holiness, help others and change the world.