Want to be happier – correct miswanting

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Miswanting is an act of being mistaken about what exactly you want for yourself and how much would you like something in the future. This act makes people mispredict the outcome of their action and also the duration of a good or bad feeling related to it. To be happier, we must recognize these tricks our mind plays with us. Correct them to predict a more accurate future of our state of happiness. 

Why miswanting occurs

Our mind has its way of defining happiness. Because of the physiological requirement, it always wants a safe state and tends to prepare itself for the worst. For example, it stores fats as fuel to survive if starvation occurs the moment it detects less food intake, even though the reduced intake was intentional. Similarly, it starts to miscalculate a feeling to remain in a known state. 

An annoying feature of our mind

Lots of annoying features of our mind mess our lives. There are two most common and recognized features which we should correct to make our lives better.

Annoying feature #1: Our mind’s strongest intuitions are often totally wrong. 

Annoying feature #2: Our mind does not think in terms of absolutes. 

Why do we have these annoying features?

Our mind needs a point which it can use to compare and interpret its state. This point is the ‘reference point’. This reference point is the salient standard (but often irrelevant) against which all subsequent information is compared. Hence knowingly or unknowingly we keep reference points of everything. For example, it has been seen that a bronze medalist is happier than a silver medalist. 

Reference of reference point

Reference point affects happiness judgment in our lives. We may have a good income or current status but choosing the wrong reference point can erase our happiness. The most important factor which decides the reference point is social comparison.

Social comparison is yet another salient standard (irrelevant though) against which our mind compares its standard and then decides to be happy or sad. This comparison may include evaluating own salary, income, family, social likeability, etc.

Can the reference point be correct?

We need to train our minds to use correct reference points if we want to be happy and satisfied in our lives. These days we have places where reference points get influenced by such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. However, training our mind not to get influenced by these factors is extremely important. To choose the correct reference point we need to compare the current state with actual things around us.

  • Comparison with people lower than us but not to look down upon them.
  • Correct interpretation when you look up to people who are better off.
  • Accept that the events happening with you are true and you need to correct the duration for which it will influence your state.
  • Train your mind to compare not a single event but all the events happening around you. A single event can be destructive but in many events happening, that event is just one of many. 

How to change

To train and change your state of happiness, we must design our day. We need to understand our character attributes to ensure we use our strengths to our advantage. Hence when we design a day, we need to carefully plan certain actions which will bring happiness to us. A few of the universal actions which can become part of everyone’s day are:-

  • Start day ensuring you remember to make it happy.
  • Gratitude
  • Know your character attributes and use them to your advantage
  • Include fun in your daily event as a mandatory part.
  • Remind yourself that you are better off than many.

Being Happy

It is not difficult to understand the concept of miswanting and reference points. Once we understand them and do the correction, we are sure to increase our life satisfaction and state of happiness. Also, remember that happiness is a state of mind. We can train our minds to be happy. 

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