RORY SUTHERLAND: Perception is Everything (T)

0:11       What you have here is an electronic cigarette. It’s something that’s, since it was invented a year or two ago, has given me untold happiness. (Laughter) A little bit of it, I think, is the nicotine, but there’s something much bigger than that. Which is ever since, in the U.K., they banned smoking in public places, I’ve never enjoyed a drinks party ever again. (Laughter) And the reason, I only worked out just the other day, which is when you go to a drinks party and you stand up and you hold a glass of red wine and you talk endlessly to people, you don’t actually want to spend all the time talking. It’s really, really tiring. Sometimes you just want to stand there silently, alone with your thoughts. Sometimes you just want to stand in the corner and stare out of the window. Now the problem is, when you can’t smoke, if you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you’re an antisocial, friendless idiot. (Laughter) If you stand and stare out of the window on your own with a cigarette, you’re a fucking philosopher. (Laughter) (Applause)

1:24   So the power of re-framing things cannot be overstated.What we have is exactly the same thing, the same activity,but one of them makes you feel great and the other one, with just a small change of posture,makes you feel terrible.And I think one of the problems with classical economics is it’s absolutely preoccupied with reality.And reality isn’t a particularly good guide to human happiness.Why, for example,are pensioners much happier than the young unemployed?Both of them, after all, are in exactly the same stage of life.You both have too much time on your hands and not much money.But pensioners are reportedly very, very happy,whereas the unemployed are extraordinarily unhappy and depressed.The reason, I think, is that the pensioners believe they’ve chosen to be pensioners,whereas the young unemployed feel it’s been thrust upon them.

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