Rebecca Soloist’s essay, “The Solitary Stroller and the City, and Daniel Gilbert’s chapter, “Immune to Reality”, from his book, Stumbling on Happiness, which discuss strolling through different cycles and how the psychological Immune system functions, respectively, both reflect on how regret influences a person’s life in different ways – costively and negatively. The psychological immune system helps the brain accept the things it cannot change, but sometimes this theory backfires, creating a bigger problem.
Gilbert’s theory of the human psychological Immune system directly reinforces Soloist’s depiction of a city, because unpleasant incidents occur so frequently in the city, and people everywhere use their subconscious immune system to make light out of those incidents. When people feel Like they are In a situation they Just cannot get out of, and Is dreadfully uncomfortable, how do they find it within themselves to keep holding on ND live through it?
Gilbert answers this question by expressing that the brain has capabilities of producing positive feelings when we are “stuck” in a bad situation that makes us uncomfortable. This allows one to find happiness In some of the worst of situations, whether It Is something as serious as someone being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or as juvenile as someone being on a date with a guy who just picked his nose in public. When discussing this, Gilbert says, “… We are more likely to look for and find a positive view of things we’re stuck with than of the things we’re not” (223).
What Gilbert Is explaining is once something Is done and made permanent- a baby being born, or a president’s election – one finds a way of making the best of it, because it cannot be reversed. Things and events that can be changed or avoided, however, often cause people more angst than happiness. When a person is given an option to change their mind about something, there Is usually a persistent feeling of ambiguity about what the outcome of the event will be, and how the repercussions of changing one’s mind will cause them to regret it later on.
Gilbert gives an example of his in his essay when he discusses the college photography class experiment, where two groups of people had to submit their pictures to the head of the department, but were allowed to keep one. Those people in the first group, who were told they absolutely could not switch their pictures, were generally more content with their picture choice in the end than the people who were given the choice of whether to keep their picture or switch It out. The second group allowed the constant internal conflict of which picture they Liked better to eat away at them.
In Soloist’s essay about align through a city, she tells the reader about so many different uncomfortable 1 OFF scenarios Trot all over ten world. Solons explains, “Cycles make walking Into true travel: danger, exile, discovery, transformation, wrap all around one’s home and come right up to the doorstep” (587). Some city walkers seem to see the uncomfortable events as a part of life, and embrace these situations. When people walk in the city, they see a dirty environment, filled with prostitution, drugs, homeless bums, and knockoff vendors trying to scam people’s money.
Most city-goers know to teeter clear of these things and find all of the positive things about the city, like shopping, meeting new people, seeing shows, and eating exquisite food. This is a result of making light of a dark situation, like Gilbert previously stated. City-goers typically know exactly how a city functions and all that goes on there, but the negative aspects do not stop them, because they cannot change a city atmosphere. No matter what the situation might be or how much they think they will regret it later, people typically try to find something positive in it to keep themselves at peace with the situation.
A recurring theory in Gilbert’s essay is of the “psychological immune system”, which is the brain’s way of keeping a person from experiencing negativity in life. This immune system has a way of “cooking” facts, as Gilbert puts it, to make one feel more at ease about something that may have happened. Unfortunately, people try to make this happen, and Gilbert explains how “deliberate attempts to generate positive views contain the seeds of their own destruction” (215).
When people are not satisfied with an outcome of a previous event, they sometimes try to mentally change that event, making it something positive, but false. This sense of self-deception can sometimes cause people to end up feeling worse than they did before they altered their mental images and memories, because it makes them feel “cheap” about themselves in the long run. Similar scenarios happen in the city, simply because people often make foolish decisions that they end up regretting later on, wishing they were able to rewrite the past and make it better.
People will try to make themselves feel better by mentally twisting the story to make it sound less gruesome. Soloists shares a story about a man with AIDS, contracted in the city, whose “city is not hell but limbo, the lace in which restless souls swirl forever, and only passion, friendship, and visionary capacity redeem it for him” (591). The word “visionary’ implies that this man’s escape from reality was creating visions and imaginary contentment to help him survive the cruel city life.
When his world came crashing down after his friend died of AIDS, his psychological immune system created a simulated sanctuary of a sort, which allowed him to still imagine positive thoughts, even though they were not real, to help him cope with his regret and sorrow for the loss of his friend and what his life is slowly becoming. The resulting pain, however, would be intense, because after having that vision, that illusion of getting out of the city and leaving it all behind, he would realize that he cannot escape the pain of reality, and regret forcing that sense of happiness.
Regret is something touched on by both Soloists and Gilbert that most people deal with at some point in their life, when one wishes that he or she could have done something differently to change the way they are now. Soloists describes the streets as “… Already a place for those who had no place, a site to measure sorrow and loneliness in the length of walks” (582). The imagery here might tell someone that these people walking in sorrow and loneliness either made a bad decision at one polyp In tenet Tie, or mêlées out on something ODL.
In clay Tie, people make emulates all the time that they wish they could reverse, like involving themselves in prostitution or drug deals or robberies. Before people choose to associate themselves with these events, they often fail to see the potential negative outcome, leading to immense feelings of regret later on. The city is a prime location for people to get in over their heads in a predicament that has potential to be life-changing – ND not in a positive way. Some situations are opposite, in that people are reluctant to do things, or choose not to follow through on an initial plan.
These circumstances also have consequences that people fail to recognize beforehand. In Gilbert’s essay about consciously and subconsciously making oneself happy, he says, “Indeed, in the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did… ” (220). This is often said in reference to educational goals, financial goals, or business goals that one failed to each and exceed, or that one failed to even attempt to begin. Still, one can find a positive in this, as Gilbert mentioned.
Sometimes, one can take a regretful feeling about something and learn from it. This new sensation of regret may be the new inspiration for someone to try something new, set a new goal, or simply to not repeat the past to avoid further regret in the future. City walkers who regret missing out on opportunities in the past can learn from their experiences and take more risks. People, as Gilbert mentioned, regret less the things they actually do, because the past Anton be changed. Events cannot be redone, and that is something people come to accept most of the time.
When someone walks through a bustling city, they need to be aware of their physical surroundings and protective of themselves against the elements of the environment – be it the weather, the people, or the nature of the community alone. One might symbolize a walk through the city as a walk through life. The ability to protect oneself from the psychological elements of grief and negativity comes from the psychological immune system that Gilbert refers to in his essay. The psychological immune system can actually help someone on their walk through life, by simply making life a little easier to handle.
Not everyone’s stroll is dark and gloomy, and not everyone’s stroll is bright and exciting. As one strolls through the city of life, one finds new goals along their path. The physical body’s immune system grows stronger every time a person gets sick. On a person’s Journeys through life, their psychological immune system grows stronger with every conflict that person faces. Everyone’s stroll in their city has led them somewhere in their life, and their psychological immune system helped them get there in one way or another.
No matter how old a person is – ten, twenty, fifty, or one hundred years old – their stroll is what they make of it. The immune system can help immensely in making the journey positive, or it can hinder it by making false senses of relief that lead to deeper sorrow when one comes to terms with reality again. Ultimately, the psychological immune system is the brain’s way of protecting one from the past so that one is not afraid to face their city strolls in the future. Point In tenet Tie, or mêlées out on something ODL. In clay Tie, people make emulates