Overestimation of Bad Things

In my favorite book “Stumble Upon Happiness”, Gilbert described an experiment seeking for the answer of this question: “Whether people are happier to lose one leg, or winning 1 million prize in lottery”. The result seems to be obvious, but objective survey of people who lose a leg in car accidents, and people who won lottery after one year show the difference is not that obvious (with people losing a leg just slightly unhappier than the lucky winners). Why is that?

We often over estimate the impact of bad things, because when we think about it, it seems to be the whole of our world, but actually it is just a small part of it.

Breaking Angle?

Taking my recent experience as an example. I have my ankle broken, and the foot cannot touch ground for 3 months. I have to use crutch everywhere I go. Isn’t it bad? It is bad but not that bad. When I sit down at my desk, my foot, both feet, actually, is out of my conscious world. I can reply emails, I can write blog and reply comments, and you know what, I even can watch a video clip! At night, I enjoy good sleep without worrying about my foot, when I started my sweet dream. There is nothing to do with my foot 23 hours out of the 24 hours of my day. When I do have to pay attention to the foot (like at noon time when I worry about my lunch), I was taken very good care of by people around me. To me, it is not that bad.


Imagine what if someone got blind. Isn’t it bad? Yes. But we can hardly understand that the world is not just about seeing things. You have radios to listen to, and you still have thoughts going on in the brain. The kids are still talking with you all the time (so you want to shut them down with a button). All these happiness are actually has nothing to do with eyes!

Inspiring Disabled People

It is so inspiring to see people who don’t have legs and arms – I saw one, but he is still so happy! With a little bit help, he can still enjoy great DVDs, and delicious food, and become a thinker! I was so inspired to see sisters connected with each other – they share everything except two heads. They are still very happy people, because the great things normal people can do, at the end of the day, are just very small part of the life. The majority of the time was spent on something body actually does not matter too much, like talking or reading, or watching video, or just close eyes, and hmmm… sleep.

Loosing part of function does impact the other parts too much.

A Country with Bad Sides

As a country, it is the same. Just as the great discussion we had in the last few days. We see areas to improve on political systems, and we see the dark side of the country (along with great side), but what I believe is, never let the bad things destroy our hope and our happiness, and even further, do not stop improving where we live because of losing hope of the political system.

A democratic and real republic political system, or justice, and freedom are just one aspect of this country. Even with it, it does not help on many things:

There are still car accidents (no matter in capitalism, or socialism, democratic, or dictatorship, or whatever -ism countries). Improving the safety of transportation need people’s hard work, no matter what happens in Beijing.

There are still be unhappy people. Leaving along adults, kids are always unhappy if the parents put them into bed at night! Can democratic process solve this problem?

There are still economy problems, even art problems around. In a more fair society, people still need to compete. There will always be poorer people and richer, in whatever society. That does not solve that difference problem, too. Oops. We did try to make wealth evenly distributed across the country in China in the 50s and 60s. What a great success!

My Hope

If you read my recent discussion and comments, you may feel that I am not as hopeful to this country as before, and I am not happy. No. No. No… The impression is wrong. We need to understand the importance of improvement on political system, but meanwhile, there are many other ways to help. Running a successful classified site also means a lot. Multi-party system does not solve the problem that people cannot trade second-hands, does it?

In short, I am full of hope for China, and knows there are many things to do including but not limited to political improvement.

12 thoughts on “Overestimation of Bad Things

  1. That’s, the good spirit! Keep it up. Hope your foot is recovering well… shouldn’t there be physical therapies (exercises) for you by now? Take care.

  2. This is a great article. You have good cognition. Happiness are only connected with your thoughts rather than external events.

  3. Jianshuo, I like this post. ‘Running a successful classified site also means a lot.’. There are many many private enterprises emerging these years, to name some – Huawei, Alibaba (only b2b went public, there are still Taobao, Zhifubao as private)… Running the company well, with social responsibilities, will provide the foundation on improving the system.

  4. What a nice blog to read first thing in the morning (for me!)

    Thank you !

    Please watch “Life is beautiful” that Adam recommended. And…you might want to watch an old black-and-white film: “A wonderful life”. A classic, a “feel good” film.

    Take care

  5. I will watch it – it is famous in China, and Wendy once watched it, but I was busy doing something else. Let me comment about it after I watch it. – I have an Internet TV that I can just turn on and watch it, as long as I have the name of the title.

  6. Seriously a great post! You’re constantly amazing me with your outlook on life and thoughtfulness. I usually don’t comment, but this one hits home for me. I recently lost my job and am feeling very cautious about my next step. One of the harder aspects of being unemployed is having to tell people–everyone assumes it’s a bad thing, feels sorry for me. But, actually, I’m excited about the future and all the new possibilities I have ahead of me. Keep up the good work!!

  7. @MW, congratulations! It does open up new possibilities, and give you a chance to re-think about what is important – keeping employed by the same employer looks like stable, and the life is as peaceful as an object sliding on the surface of ice – with predictable route, but not necessarily the best thing for life.

  8. “There is nothing to do with my foot 23 hours out of the 24 hours of my day.”

    It inspires me to ignore the dark spots in the sun, for we only live with the sunshine. :)

    And I also agree with Adam,

    “You are kinda like the optimistic & lovely & respectable father in my favorite movie “La Vita è bella” (or “Life is beautiful”).

  9. Hi Jiani Shuo, This article is one of the best articles from you. Thank you for having such an optimistic view. If we all have such a view 90% of the problems (We feel) today are solved. Do watch “Life is beautiful” movie. This is also one of the best movie to watch which u never forget in your life. With all the people recommending the movie don’t raise your expectation on the movie, which may affect the your attention on the movie.

  10. You have got a wonderful imagination. Your mind is wide open even you can think about the future of the country from your injured ankle. Your post gives me a clue as to hope is always out there no matter what happens. But sometimes things are not as easy as we just talk. What can we do if the hope, the dream can not come true?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *