Last year I started to read books about behavioural economics and statistics. The reason was that it came a time while I was living in Sydney where I had finished all the novels there were in the house and my library card was expired. I could not renew the card as I was not an Australian citizen and I didn’t have too much time to go and buy something else – consider that I was doing two jobs and used to have dinner at 10pm, so the mere fact that I had time to read on the bus was incredible. Therefore, the easiest solution was to give a chance to my partner’s bookshelf. He hardly ever finishes books, he usually gets to page 30 and then starts to play with his phone, which means that most pages remain untouched and he can’t spoiler too much of the content.
That was how I started to read Predictably irrational, my first non fiction book related to economy. I was scared I wouldn’t understand a thing, but I have to say I loved it to bits. First of all, the language was clear and simple, plus the author mentioned so many different, interesting studies that it was easy for me to feel intrigued. I’d go as far as to say I related to the examples of mistakes that people normally do when purchasing a product or a service.
After reading that book, I started to think a little bit more before making a purchase. I noticed that it was true, in restaurants I was definitely attracted to the second most expensive item on the menu, as the author explains. I could detect the way an ad was supposed to make me love the product, or why I was not keen on giving a chance to an unknown brand. I basically started to notice my own behaviour and that is, I believe, the first step to change it. I was so impressed by that book that I gave it to a friend of mine who was looking for some non fiction and he still has it.
That book led me to others such as The Invisible Gorilla but most importantly Thinking fast and slow, both about how our brain works. The first one is about why we don’t see things, or we don’t remember them, or misremember as well. It is about how we think our brain works always at its best when it actually doesn’t.
The second one was mind-blowing for me. It is a book that again describes a wide variety of studies that show how we generally behave when we make assumptions or when we elaborate thoughts. It starts by stating that our brain has two different systems: System 1 is the one we use when we are lazy and don’t want to think deeply about what we have to do, System 2 on the contrary is the energy consuming one and we use it only when we have to do something properly. Well, my explanation is really down-to-earth, so please do not rely solely on that.
Back to the book, what I really liked was how it touches different aspects of life, from work to how we judge people, from how we decide where to go on holiday to how happy we think our life is. And it was that latter part regarding happiness that I enjoyed the most. I found quite heartwarming to read that once you reach a certain amount of money, the level of happiness that depends on it doesn’t go up anymore. Once you have financial stability, it doesn’t matter if you saved a million or two. What matters is the time you spend with family and friends, the time you spend doing active things (not like watching television). I was quite pleased to find such an easy and simple solution at the end of the book. Plus, the fact that it is supported by several studies where they did not just ask people how happy they were (their study was more complex and involved interviews as well as daily monitoring) makes it even more reliable.
It created in my mind this picture of a happiness metre that is not infinite, that has a beginning and an end as well. I can have sad moments where my life is more towards the bottom, but also happy moments where I reach the top and the best thing is that everybody has that same metre. It’s not that being rich and famous will widen that stick. I just have to make sure that I’m grateful enough to stay at my pick like everybody else. I find it very comforting to know I experience true happiness every single day, even when I am not shopping or posing behind a camera. Even though I am definitely not a millionaire.
Would I recommend those three books I mentioned? Yes, totally, starting from Thinking fast and slow. Will I continue to read books like those ones? Again, yes.
Let me know if you have any suggestion for me or if you have read those books and what are your thoughts about them!