Monday, February 7, 2011

The Eleventh Floor

8 in, 392 out. The 'period not to exceed 400 days' just keeps rolling along.

So how 'bout that Super Bowl prediction, eh? That guy is amazing.

I saw a great YouTube video of Daniel Gilbert speaking at a conference. He asked the audience, "Who do you think is happier -- a paraplegic or a lottery winner?"

As it turns out, it's not a trick question, but the answer might be counterintuitive to many. Of course, for a short burst of time immediately following either a lottery win or a life-changing accident, the involved individuals are likely to see a big spike or big drop in happiness, respectively. However, once the waters settle back down, so to speak, people just revert to however they were before. So if someone who wins the lottery is paranoid and insecure, he or she will be right back at it within a short period of time. If someone with a pleasant demeanor and positive outlook gets hit by a bus and loses the use of both legs, that same personality isn't really going to be affected in the long-term.

When Gilbert mentioned how people almost always revert back to their baseline happiness levels within three months of a traumatic experience, I wasn't surprised at all. It's hard to believe, but three months back from the time I had heard it, pretty much all of my major bodily functions involved tubes, and the prognosis was unknown.

By the grace of God, that's no longer the case at all...and the few periodic checkups won't even affect my deployment schedule. I braced for the worst, but eating and talking are, by and large, just like they were before.

Personality-wise, I'd say I'm the exact same.

I still believe in transparency, inclusion, and a wariness towards the *hard sell.*

I still get frustrated on the road when drivers act like everything is zero-sum and they will somehow *lose* by ceding an inch or letting someone in who needs to change lanes.

I still act just the same towards colleagues at work, towards my wife at home, and towards friends anywhere else.

And, even though it'd be no surprise to Daniel Gilbert, someone who studies happiness for a living, the same small day-to-day things bring a smile to my face.

Still, today was my last periodic visit before the big plane ride, and I think one of the things that hits me by going back up to Floor 11 of MEEI or Floor 7 of Yawkey is the way that certain thoughts, fears, and memories can crawl out of the places where they're normally stowed away.

I've obviously moved forward -- and that's undoubtedly a good thing -- but going back to such places is still an important reminder about what not to take for granted.

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