Unhappy ending

Will we be happy right before we die?

What will we say to ourselves, how will we feel about our days, our past, our life as a whole?

Especially in the developed world, conditions improved with respect to just a few decades ago. The life expectancy has increased dramatically. We live healthier for longer.

But what about our final self-evaluation?

It seems that we might not die happy after all. Two possible reasons are the peek-end-rule (interesting post here) and the duration neglect (interesting post here).

Peek-end-rule is about what we remember after a certain experience. It turns out, extreme events and final episodes stay with us the most. Life will possibly bring us both positive and negative extremes, but final moments will probably not consist of the finest ones. Also, recurrent negative health shocks will likely drag our happiness down in our later years.

Duration neglect, on the other hand, is about what we don’t remember and don’t take into account. It turns out, 20 years of happy and healthy life does not give us twice the satisfaction as 10 years of happiness and health. In fact, we pretty much neglect the whole 10 years difference. When we evaluate our experiences, we do not sum up all the happy moments. This tendency suggests that a longer and healthier youth will not affect much our happiness at deathbed.

We tend to discount individual, happy days. We do not include them in our mental accounting. Maybe this is useful, as we tend to do the same for bad days as well. Still, the aging process guarantees that our evaluation will suffer from the weight of many health issues we will face and overcome in our later years.

Perhaps the primitive man, who lived thousands (or hundreds) of years ago, died much younger, but happier.

As for final words, the question we’ll ask ourselves right at the end is likely to be: “What the hell happened to me?”

2 thoughts on “Unhappy ending

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