The Secret to Happiness Revealed

There was an episode in the first season of the t.v. show "This American Life," where this group of 35 or so people decided to pull a stunt. They would take an unknown band, study them, learn all their songs, create t-shirts for them, do everything a true fan of the band would do. Then they would go to the band's show and pretend that this was their most favorite band ever. The idea was that the band members would have the perfect gig.

They did it, and everything went as planned. Thirty people showed up to a band's third gig ever, knowing all the songs, wearing shirts, dancing, hugging band members, closing their eyes and just feeling the music... in short, the band members wondered what in the world was going on, but they were happily surprised.

Anyway, the story in "This American Life" is a little more about the band, but I'm more interested in the people who pulled the stunt. Specifically, the way one guy answered one question:

Ira Glass: "So, what's the difference between going to a concert of your real favorite band and going to a concert where you are pretending this is your favorite band?"

Random Guy: "Very little. Very little difference at all."

This got me thinking. I could study up on any band and pretend they were my favorite, go to a show, and have the time of my life.

Better still: I could pretend to be interested in anything, do it, and be happy doing it.

What is it that makes me like one thing more than another, anyway? Are my tastes based a lot on convenience, or the feelings I associate with the place and the people I was with at the time I was first exposed?

What if, all the time, I just decided that right here, right now, wow, man, this is my favorite thing ever? I love this! I could do this for the rest of my life and be happy.

There must be some hole in my logic, somewhere. I just can't find it.


  1. If that were always true then housewives in the 50s wouldn't have snuck all those prescription drugs. Those ladies were expert at pretending to like their perfect (ahem) lives.

    Aren't the band really cross when it emerges it was a set up? Did they respond well?

  2. There's an art group in NYC that does things like that. I saw them on YouTube (don't have the URL, sorry). One of their happenings was a surprise wedding reception for a couple that got married at city hall. Nobody really knew the bride and groom - they were picked at random. They loved it!

  3. I always knew you were a closet Buddhist.

  4. The band was really cross when they realized it was a set up! That was mostly what the episode of "This American Life" was about. It was good publicity for them, though, when people found out about it. Also, I think this was the same group in NYC that did the wedding thing.

    And, yeah, I guess there is some difference between pretending to be happy because it is forced on you and deciding to be happy because you want to, which is why the housewives really didn't feel all that great all the time.

    Also, to be happy, all your basic needs and those of the ones you love need to be met!

    In short, this is really not the key to happiness, just a thought.