All of us know what it feels like to have a bad day - the pain, the regret, the sheer misery. We also know how one bad decision can spiral into a day(s) filled with misery. Sometimes, misery stems from really bad events that are out of our control, like the loss of a loved one. But, too often, we're quick to blame misfortune on chance, the toss of the dice, bad luck.
In reality, a surprising amount of our misfortune results from decisions that we can change at lots of points along the way - if we could only see those points before we pass them. But, too many things get in the way - like our egos. We know we can ski that slope, kayak those rapids and we absolutely deserve whatever we want more than anyone else. Instead, we end up miserable.
So, maybe this explains why we all feel a touch of glee in the misery of others, especially when we think the dirty dogs deserve it. We don't like to recognize the Schadenfreude that occasionally surfaces in all of us but the good news is there may be an evolutionary function to it.
So, why do we make so many painfully bad decisions in the first place? If you're having a miserable day, this show's for you.
- Michael Farquhar - former editor, Washington Post and author of Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misery, Misfortune and Mayhem
- Richard Smith - professor of Psychology, University of Kentucky and author of The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature
- Jordan Fisher Smith - author of Nature Noir. He's currently working on a book about man's tinkering with nature due out in May 2016.