By Christina Elias

Daniel Gilbert is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His TED Talk, “The Science of Happiness,” is one of the most popular on the TED website. Gilbert is also the author of The New York Times bestseller “Stumbling on Happiness.”

The following are live updates from Alumni Gym, where Gilbert is the featured speaker for Spring Convocation March 30.

4:29 p.m. Gilbert wraps up his presentation, “Happiness: What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You” with a thank-you to the crowd.

4:24 p.m. Gilbert’s graph on happiness hit of different life events:

4:19 p.m. On his mother’s child theory: “Guess what? People with children are less happy than people without them.” On mothers in particular: “You almost double the depression rate (28 percent) among women with children by having them stay home”

4:17 p.m. Gilbert said to get more happiness out of money, people should spend money on experiences, rather than belongings: “The joy of things wears off as we get used to the things.” When spending money on others instead of themselves, “they themselves get a bigger happiness boost … Doing good things for others makes you feel good.”

When spending money on others instead of themselves, “they themselves get a bigger happiness boost … Doing good things for others makes you feel good.”

4:13 p.m. Gilbert on how people spend money on the wrong things: “People aren’t happy when they’re resting … An occupied mind is a happy one; an open one, not so much.”

4:10 p.m. He says when he asks people, they deny that money buys happiness – “No! They’re wrong! Money buys happiness. If you don’t think money buys happiness, go talk to somebody who lives in a cardboard box under a bridge.” But the happiness brought about by money tends to level off after about $65,000.

4:08 p.m. “The happiness benefits of marriage wear off.” What about divorce? “Happiness rebounds!”

4:02 p.m. A mother’s advice in achieving happiness, according to Gilbert: find a partner, be financially stable and have children. What’s the science say about these, he asks?

The science says married people are statistically happier than singles, but not necessarily that the marriage directly caused their happiness.

3:57 p.m.  Scientists could theoretically be scientifically measured through physical indicators of positive emotions, but he says what researchers really do is APQ: ask people questions and submitting them to statistical analysis.

3:55 p.m.  Everyone has “a theory about what you need to do if you want to be happy. Guess what? None of their theories are based on evidence. In the last 30 yrs, scientists have gotten into the business of happiness.”

3:53 p.m. Theory of happiness has traditional been when people get what they want, he said. But “people who have what they want are not any happier than the rest of us … Getting what you want is not the key to happiness because people often want the wrong things.”

3:50 p.m. Questions about happiness new: “What is the secret of happiness? The first thing you’re going to find out is that it’s not a secret.”

3:49 p.m. Gilbert takes the podium and thanks Lambert and Johnson for their comments, saying that is one of the nicest introductions he’s ever had.

3:47 p.m. India Johnson, assistant professor of psychology, comes to the podium to introduce Gilbert, says she is a fan of his work: “His life very much inspired me to seek out a career in academia.”

3:44 p.m. President Leo Lambert welcomes speaker Daniel Gilbert to Elon: “We look forward to hearing from you about the nature of human happiness and how to discover it.”

3:37 p.m. Convocation has begun following a procession of faculty and students honored on the Dean’s and President’s Lists.


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