Happiness: A Theory — Talking Things Through

If, as current research on the brain suggests, talking about things may have as much to do with restoring serotonin levels as anything else, an urge to discuss the status of a relationship may be a chemically-induced reaction, and the disinclination to talk may be the sign of an intact sense of well being.  If so, then there may be little if any moral dimension to reticence, and volubility may represent the equivalent of the family pet digging into its bowl. 

A reticent partner may emerge from an interaction feeling somehow responsible for whatever in a relationship is “broken”, while the voluble one may come out with the hazy feeling of being right without clarity as to exactly how this is so.   Because the conscious brain ascribes meaning to behavior to which it attends, while lacking the biochemical information that might best account for it, the risk of confabulation is high.

Our happiness may depend in part on a willingness to reject whatever mythology arises around certain social behavior, to recognize that, although we often have limited access to the impetus for our conduct, we may be hypnotized by our transcendence.  The random-access, multivariable character of conscious thought helps us feel responsible for whatever just happened, even though “we” may have had nothing to do with it.


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