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为什么聪明又成功的人幸福感不足?

2016-05-30    来源:财富中文网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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 Suppose a magic genie appeared on your desk right now and offered to grant you three wishes. What would you ask for? With smarty-pants answers like “I wish for an infinite number of future wishes” ruled out, the thousands of research subjects who have taken this simple quiz have mostly come up with the answers you’d expect, like wealth, fame, health, true love, career success, and power.

 
But here’s a surprise: Despite the fact that happiness ranks high on most people’s lists of what they want from life (often in the No. 1 spot), almost no one ever asks the genie for it.
 
Why not?
 
A new book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, offers some fascinating insights into that question, among others. Author Raj Raghunathan, a professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, has been teaching an MBA course in happiness for the past five years (and now an online Coursera version), but he’s been studying it for much longer. Based on his own research, and hundreds of other happiness studies cited in the book’s appendix, Ragunathan has identified seven basic reasons why the smart and successful, which he abbreviates as “the S-and-S,” are likely to be even less happy than the average person.
 
Apparently, they’re too smart for their own good. For one thing, people with above-average intelligence are most likely to “devalue” happiness. Everyone wants it, but when they were asked why they didn’t ask the hypothetical genie for it, high achievers were most likely to say that they feared happiness would make them lazy, or that it is fleeting. Most tellingly, smart people often said that happiness is “too abstract, particularly when compared with money, fame, or status,” Ragunathan writes.
 
Yet reams of studies on how people seek to maximize happiness, some of them entertainingly detailed here, “suggest that people can get so caught up in chasing money” — or fame, or prestige, or fill in the blank — “that they forget why they wanted [it] in the first place.”
 
The S-and-S tend to lose sight of what would really make them happy by subjecting every situation to a cost-benefit analysis, while deliberately squashing any emotional response to the available choices.
 
That’s fine for, say, picking investments, Ragunathan notes, but elsewhere in life, not so much. Consider, for example, an experiment at the University of Chicago, where people were asked to pick between two chocolates. One of the chocolates was four times the size of the other, but with a catch: It was shaped like a huge insect. The smaller one was the same size and shape as a typical chocolate.
 
“There is no universally correct answer, of course, but to the extent that one finds the idea of eating a bug to be revolting, one should choose the smaller, better-looking chocolate,” writes Ragunathan. Nonetheless, determined to make a “rational” decision, as opposed to one more influenced by emotion, 68% of the S-and-S group choked down the bigger, bug-shaped candy. “Needless to say,” the author adds, “they didn’t enjoy the chocolate much.”
 
If You’re So Smart takes a close look at seven different ways the S-and-S most often end up choosing the chocolate bug, so to speak — and, luckily, offers seven “habits of the highly happy” describing how to stop inadvertently making oneself miserable. To his credit, Ragunathan acknowledges that getting out of our own way is not simple or easy. That’s partly because most of us are “conditioned to devalue happiness right from childhood,” he writes, and the S-and-S seem to learn those lessons more thoroughly than most.
 
It’s especially hard for S-and-S parents not to pass along the chocolate-bug-munching habit to their offspring. Raghunathan discovered this when he started to get annoyed with his small son for playing with a big cardboard box, instead of the expensive toy that had come in it. As he tells it, “I realized that it is precisely because we tell our children what to value — money, value for money, status, beauty, power, etc. — that they learn to lose sight of what truly makes them happy.”
 
So he kept quiet and let the kid play with the box.

假设会魔法的精灵出现在在你桌上,可以满足你三个愿望,你会许什么愿?将 “希望未来能满足无穷无尽的愿望”这种自作聪明的回答排除在外,做这个小测试的数千位研究对象大部分都给出了意料之中的答案,比如财富、名誉、健康、真爱、职业成功和权力。

 
但也有出人意料的:虽然大多数人在生活中都很看重幸福(常常排在首位),可几乎没人请求精灵让自己快乐。
 
为什么?
 
对这个问题,新近面世的《如果你非常聪明,为什么你不快乐?》(If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?)一书提出了不少很有趣的见解。这本书的作者拉吉•洛格纳汗是德克萨斯大学麦库姆斯商学院教授。过去五年,他一直在教授有关快乐的工商管理学硕士课程(开放课程教育平台Coursera上现已有这门课),他研究快乐的时间要长得多。根据洛格纳汗长期研究结果,以及书中附录引用的数百项其他研究,他找出了聪明人和成功人士(书中简写为“S-与-S型人”)没有普通人快乐的七个基本原因。
 
显然,聪明人和成功人士太计较得失了。首先,聪明人很可能会“贬低”快乐的价值。人人都想快乐,可被问及为何不求假想中的精灵让自己快乐时,成功人士很可能会回答,担心快乐让人变懒,或者快乐是稍纵即逝的。洛格纳汗在书中写道,最能说明问题的是,聪明人经常说,快乐“太抽象,特别是同金钱、名利和地位相比。”
 
许多学者研究人们如何尽可能追求快乐之后,有些解释还挺有趣,说“人拼了命地追求金钱”或者名誉、威望或是其他东西,“有时反倒忘记最初去追求的原因。”
 
S-与-S型人凡事计较付出多少代价、获得多少好处,往往忽视了真正能让自己快乐的东西,面对选择时还会故意避免感性。
 
洛格纳汗指出,在某些方面这么做没错,比如做投资,如果应用到生活中其他方面就不太好了。以芝加哥大学的一项实验为例,实验对象在两种巧克力挑一种,其中一种巧克力的块头是另一种的四倍,不过大块巧克力外形像一只大昆虫,小块巧克力大小和外形都跟正常巧克力一样。
 
洛格纳汗写道:“当然,并不存在统一的正确答案。如果看到大块巧克力会联想到吃虫子感觉恶心,就应该选看上去更正常的小巧克力。”然而,68%的S-与-S型人决定做“理性的”选择,不受情感影响,最后吞下了虫子形状的大巧克力。洛格纳汗补充道:“不必说,他们吃得不太开心。”
 
《如果你非常聪明,为什么你不快乐?》仔细观察了S-与-S型人大部分最终选择昆虫形状巧克力的七种不同方式。幸运的是,书中也提供了七种“让人开心的习惯”,帮助人们停止无意中折磨自己。洛格纳汗承认,改变个人习惯绝非易事,因为多数人“从孩提时起就学着贬低快乐,” S-与-S型人只是比多数人记得更牢。
 
S-与-S型人当了父母之后,也很难教导后代抛弃虫形巧克力选择小块巧克力。洛格纳汗发现这点是因为发现小儿子没有玩昂贵的玩具却在玩装玩具的大纸板箱时,感觉很生气。他说:“我意识到,问题的原因恰恰就是我们在告诉孩子什么重要——金钱,看重金钱、性价比、地位、美貌、权力等。孩子学会对真正让自己快乐的东西视而不见。”
 
于是,洛格纳汗什么都没说,由着儿子继续玩纸箱。(财富中文网)
 
译者:Pessy
 
审校:夏林


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