Computer science reveals 4 secrets that will make you happy

Computer science reveals 4 secrets that will make you happy

via Eric Barker

Where do you go for most of your answers these days? Google. And it’s no surprise that Google’s a company full of engineers. Engineers solve problems. That’s what they do.

And computer software engineers have developed methods — algorithms — to solve some of the most insanely complex problems out there. So what if we turned that cold, clinical science toward the warmest and most human of problems?

Turns out you can get some amazing solutions. No, you don’t need to understand calculus and you don’t need a mind that can bend spoons. We’re going to make it simple to apply advanced computer science to the big decisions in life and the everyday struggles that plague us all.

Okay, time to update the software in your brain. Let’s get to it…

How To Minimize Regret And Maximize Happiness

Computer scientists often use a framework called “explore/exploit.” Exploring is when you gather information and exploiting is when you put it to use.

In life, exploration minimizes regret. You get to try lots of options. But exploitation maximizes happiness. You do what you know will work, and get results you know you’ll like.

Exploring is fun. We all like novelty. But if you never do anything with what you learn, you don’t get very far.

And exploiting what you’ve learned can provide big returns. But too much of that and you never learn anything new, and can’t solve problems you’ve never seen before. So you need a bit of both. Which creates a problem: How do you strike the right balance?

No need to do heavy math. But the key thing you want to think about here is time. How much time do you have to exploit the results of your exploration?

From Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions:

When balancing favorite experiences and new ones, nothing matters as much as the interval over which we plan to enjoy them.

So if you’ve just moved to a new city, try a different restaurant every night for a while. If you’re about to move out of a city, stick to your favorites. And you can apply this principle to many different areas of life from jobs to meeting new people.

“Explore/Exploit” also helps explain some of the seemingly crazy behavior of human beings because, to a degree, it’s programmed into us.

Alison Gopnik, a leading researcher on children, explains this is why kids have such short attention spans and do so many crazy things — they need to explore this new world of ours.

And it also explains why older people can be so set in their ways. They’ve had a long time to explore. They know what makes them happy. So they stick to it — and more often than not, it works.

From Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions:

…exploration necessarily leads to being let down on most occasions. Shifting the bulk of one’s attention to one’s favorite things should increase quality of life. And it seems like it does: Carstensen has found that older people are generally more satisfied with their social networks, and often report levels of emotional well-being that are higher than those of younger adults.

(To learn more tips on living an awesome life, check out my book here.)

Alright, so the science of high tech can help you be happy. But can it help you get your act together?

…keep reading the full & original article HERE