While I was working on a book last year, I got to interview Daniel Gilbert, who told me a great story. Gilbert is one of the nation’s leading happiness researchers, and one of the points he makes in his great book, Stumbling on Happiness, is that the human brain will actively craft happiness out of any situation we can’t change. Once we’ve accepted that we can’t change it, the brain goes to work figuring out reasons why it’s really pretty great.
At one point, he got into a conversation about this with someone who said, “So marriage isn’t something you do to signal your committment and love; it’s something you do to create the committment and the love.” Gilbert thought about that for a minute and then said, “My god, that’s exactly right!”
“So I went home,” he told me, “and I proposed to the woman I’d been living with for 12 years, and he was right, I love her even more now than I did before we got married.”