The Master Manipulator

A college economics professor one time told me that people whose chosen career is higher education continue learning more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about absolutely nothing. I think he was making a joke, but since he’s an economist one can never be certain.

I see a parallel with aging family members; of all the things that have happened in our lives my grandparents tend to latch onto a few stories from the past and without fail every time we get together they bring up one in particular and try to get me to retell it.

Daniel Kahneman talks about the idea that there are two types of selfs: our experiencing selves and our remembering selves. He shows that the happiness we experience as we remember what we experiences is NOT directly proportional to the actual experience. There’s a lot more science to it, but you can read the book for the details. I’ll just share with you why it’s important: experiences appreciate with time whereas material goods depreciate. Thus one of the secrets to a happy life is to invest in experiences. And because your happiness is linearly related, you merely need to have a brief fun experience in order to reap the benefits of that joy for years down the road.

I already shared my Candy Man story, and maybe someday I’ll share the time my brother and I hid and laughed under the couch while my parents called 911 because they thought he and I had been kidnapped. But that’s for another time: this is all about the birth of a what my Grandma would term the “master manipulator”!

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Authentic Experiences

After a week of work in Orlando, today was a vacation day taking advantage of the already paid for flight. Thursday a friend of mine joined me at the Gaylord Palms and then last night began our weekend in Florida. We decided to go to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure today and the thing that struck me was that so many people were thrilled with their experience there. Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun today, but I was also able to view the experience as if I was a third person observing the day.

Everything that happens at Universal (or theme parks in general) is the product of masterful experience designers. They architect the environment and plan all the little details to create a grand illusion. I do recognize that perception is reality, so if people believe that they’re content with their time there then who am I to argue?

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