"The average person says, 'I know I'll be happier with a Porsche than a Chevy,' " Gilbert explains. " 'Or with Linda rather than Rosalyn. Or as a doctor rather than as a plumber.' That seems very clear to people. The problem is, I can't get into medical school or afford the Porsche. So for the average person, the obstacle between them and happiness is actually getting the futures that they desire. But what our research shows not just ours, but Loewenstein's and Kahneman's is that the real problem is figuring out which of those futures is going to have the high payoff and is really going to make you happy.
Jon Gertner, "The Futile Pursuit of Happiness," The New York Times, September 7, 2003
What people think they want many times is not really what they want at all. Study participants were asked to choose what they would like to eat on three consecutive Mondays. When it came time to eat the snacks, most were unhappy with their choices. They said what sounded good at the time wasn't what they wanted when it was time to eat them.
"Who is Happy?," FutureVision.org
sudden wealth syndrome