Young & Old Happiness, Finding Wine, and American Chinese Food

Curated by CLAI

YOUNG v. OLD HAPPINESS: When we’re young and believe we have a long future ahead, we prefer extraordinary experiences outside the realm of our day-to-day routines. But when we’re older and believe that our time is limited, we put more value on ordinary experiences, the stuff of which our daily lives are made.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan (Credits: Christine Lai)

  • Why? For young people trying to figure out who they want to become, extraordinary experiences help establish personal identities and are therefore prized. As people become more settled, ordinary experiences become central to a sense of self and therefore more valued.
  • People aged 18 to 79 were asked to recall an experience that was extraordinary or ordinary, and then asked them to rate their emotional responses. The conclusion: happiness derived from extraordinary experiences remained fairly constant, but pleasure from ordinary experiences increased as people got older.
  • Perception of happiness changes over time, with younger people feeling more rewarded by feeling excited and older adults getting a bigger boost of satisfaction from peace and calm. Older adults’ sense that time is limited alters their emotional perspective, causing them to invest energy in what is most meaningful to them.

FINDING THE WINE YOU WANT: Wine distribution in the United States is regulated by an irrational patchwork of laws. Also, small producers often create wines that are more intriguing and distinctive but less available. Factor in that wine shops have many different rationales for how they put together their inventories, and you have a complicated Venn diagram with scores of different circles and few points of intersection. But the simple solution — choosing only wines that are easy to find — is worse than the problem.

AMERICAN CHINESE FOOD? Americans like American Chinese food – not Chinese food. Chinese immigrants created it over time, adapting recipes with U.S. ingredients to appeal to American palates. American expatriates who grew up with popular takeout dishes like General Tso’s chicken can’t find it in China because it essentially doesn’t exist. White cardboard takeout boxes with wire handles and red pagodas on the side are ubiquitous in America, they are known to Chinese only through scenes in Hollywood movies.

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