Happiness is (???)

Why are we moving?

To seek adventure. To confront the “Other,” the daily unexpectedness of living in a new place with a new language, different customs, a different perspective on life. Un-used-to money, brands at the market which have never been encountered, the challenge of figuring out “place.” How do we get to the school, the doctor, the market, the movies? Where do we shop, what parks and cafes make us happy?

We are moving because we are a little bored, and we have the opportunity for change. We like our friends, we like our town, and yet we are seeking more. Some challenges that will define us as a family, bring us closer together as we confront the new together, and also define us as individuals. Expats, parents in a new country, different career opportunities.

In a word, we are following a path which we believe will make us happy.

Conventional psychological wisdom has it that humans are terrible judges of what will make them happy. Daniel Gilbert, in Stumbling on Happiness, made a splash with this point. In a nutshell, he says that humans are unique in the animal kingdom for imagining their future. It’s just that we suck at determining what will make us happy in this future.

There are some tricks, however, to help predict happiness. One is to find people similar to yourself and see what has brought them happiness. And then reproduce it. For me and Jessica, we can look back at our younger selves and see the great adventure we had in San Francisco. We left great friends and New York City which we loved for the prospect of the new. It worked out then. We’re hoping it works out again.

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