Originally Posted by Jekyll
Super interesting. This articulates better than I ever could the reason that doing things that make us happy in the moment and reflecting on our lives lead to totally different actions most of the time. It is essentially the Buddhist/meditative/new-age "living in the present" vs. the classic Western goal of gathering memories and celebrating the ego, or one's individuality (borne of the European humanistic Enlightenment). I don't have the research that Kahneman has to back me up, but I'd wager that it's not just as simple as experienced happiness vs. remembered happiness. I think that along with memories, the second category includes projected happiness. In other words, the second category allows for the projection of social customs and expectations as a lens through which to judge happiness. Example: I receive more happiness thinking back to my college experience if it was Harvard than if it was Bumblefuck Community Tech in Wyoming (all other things equal). This is because I can never only view my past through a vacuum. It is inevitably filtered through society's glasses. Another example - having sex with a 12 year old boy, no matter one's actual enjoyment or experience of the event, will be remembered very differently today vs. in ancient Greece. That is the social overlay on all that we remember, and equally if not more powerfully, on all that we plan or project into the future. This all ties back to the ego and the concept of "enlightenment/samadhi" (whether you believe in its actual existence or not). Remembered happiness = the foundation of the ego. It allows us to feel pride in our past, it is why some young men seek to sleep with countless beautiful women (even actions in the now are influenced by how they will be remembered and how they will affect our egos looking backward later on). The common "spiritual" idea of killing off the ego can be restated as shifting to an experienced happiness goal from a remembered happiness goal. I'm glad that Eastern and Western though have converged on this topic albeit via two very different avenues of thought. Though practically speaking, it might just be semantics. Does experienced happiness ever really matter if it is lost and replaced by remembered happiness as soon as the second hand moves on the clock? Or is experienced happiness all that matters because otherwise we are really never living, only remembering? Might just be a matter of personal philosophy, but certainly very interesting to think about.