Saturday, March 12, 2011

what people are saying, part one

one of the main reasons i created this blog was to practice writing more often. but the other main reason is that i have an interest in others' experiences of living in the cities in which they live. as i may have mentioned before, if i am going to give up near perfect weather and a rent-free two bedroom apartment, i want to be a sure as i can about what i am giving it up for. fortunately, i am a man who knows a bit about how the brain works, so this is a crucial advantage in the process of decision making about the future. you see, what i happen to know is that we generally don't make great decisions about how we will experience something in the future. we just don't! it is not a flaw or a weakness, but rather a quirk in the evolutionary biology of the brain (one of many!). in the fantastically entertaining and informative book stumbling on happiness, by daniel gilbert, he writes: "research suggests that when people make predictions about their reactions to future events, they end to neglect the fact that their brains have performed the fillin-in trick as an integral part of the act of imagination."

what he means by this is that if, for example, i imagine how i would like living in the east bay, i will naturally pull from my experience as a tourist there, which as we all know is quite different than living in a place. my brain will "fill-in" details from what i have read and what i have experienced for an imaginary future experience so that i have something to reference. the problem is that the reference point then becomes inaccurate. now, we do this all the time! how many times have you anticipated something only to have the experience be something completely different that what you imagined?

to clarify further, gilbert writes:
"if you'd been given your choice of brains at the moment of conception, you probably wouldn't have chosen the tricky one. good thing no one asked you. without the filling-in trick you would have sketchy memories, an empty imagination, and a small black hole following you whereever you went."
"we see things that aren't really there and we remember things that didn't really happen, and while these may sound like symptoms of mercury poisoning, they are actually critical ingredients in the recipe for a seamlessly smooth and blessedly normal reality. but that smoothness and normality come at a price. even though we are aware in some vaguely academic sense that our brains are doing the filling-in trick, we can't help but expect the future to unfold with the details we imagine."

my goodness!! in a nutshell, we SUCK at predicting our future happiness. if you doubt me, just look at the divorce rate. therefore, you cannot possibly fault me for proceeding cautiously when it comes to thinking about giving up my rent-free two bedroom apartment in the land of perfect weather! is some info about los angeles that i think you should know, because i think it is VERY IMPORTANT! in Travel & Leisure magazine's survey on America's favorite cities, los angeles pretty much sits at the bottom. as the article's author christopher reynolds writes: "when it comes to public transportation, pedestrian-friendliness and friendliness generally, los angeles ranked dead last (italics mine) among 35 major u.s cities. the affordabilithy of los angeles and the intelligence of its residents were ranked 34th of 35. (!!) on the positive side, l.a. ranked no. 4 for shopping."

SHOPPING!!!! that is what los angeles is noted for!!!

so it is NOT just me. los kinda. sometimes. unless you like shopping.

to be continued...


  1. Oh I see now! A 'little' fact of RENT-FREE accommodation......must have missed that one! lol
    I am sure it is a factor for you but not the main one.
    To be honest LA is not a priority of mine....I hope that is OK to say (I am being Canadian here, slips out on occasion....hate offending anyone).
    And I hate shopping.....find it a total waste of time.
    Now San Francisco is another story....
    I remember when we made a more out to Vancouver. It was a huge move for us. It was risky on a number of levels but one worth and needed to take. We stayed for two years and came back 'home'.
    Of course I did not do it alone......much easier to take risks when the two of you are willing.
    You won't know until you do it.....if you do.

  2. jim, it is more than okay to say that l.a. is not a priority--i think it is low priority for me as well. you live in what seems to be an amazing part of the world, as do i. the difference is that you have more community--something which i am valiantly seeking. i thank you for sharing the bit about moving to vancouver, and plan to address the "being with someone" issue in part two of this series. and i agree, you won't know until you do it. as i told a client just tonight: "you won't know until you go". ha!