Demented happiness v Designedhappiness 
To avoid conflating[1] different issues, two things need to be kept separate. These are (a) how to fight dementia and (b) how to be happy.
Fighting off dementia is about dealing with a snowballing condition in the ageing process. It affects (and thus it is of interest to) most of us. That’s why billions of dollars are being spent in the search for the so-far elusive magic pill. To many already demented, the discovery of that pill may come a bit too late. Meanwhile, many of them would rather prefer to know how to remain happy for the rest of their demented life (Too bad for their potential carers?). That’s understandable. But to those not yet demented, investing in happiness is about being effectively vaccinated against dementia.
How to attain (and maintain) happiness is about dealing with some natural defects in our thinking process. Science has shown how these get in the way we experience happiness. Over the past near half-century or so, Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman and other famous clinical psychologists had already done so much to uncover these defects. They have shown how best to cope with them in our quest to be happy. There are already lots of books written on this subject.[2] Some of these are even useful for people who, labouring under theillusion of validity,[3] fool themselves about being able to pick stocks and predict or (‘read’) stock market trends.[4] But if we read Professor Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, we are reminded of one important observation:  a fault confessed is only half-redressed. Kahneman himself readily admits he has difficulty avoiding many of these defects in the thinking process.
One link between these two is this: Dementia is not incompatible with happiness. But, as Professor Mario Garrett of San Diego State University put it, Dementia is a devastating disease that can produce terror at diagnosis, anguish in managing the disease, despair in the final stages and death might provide little respite for thecaregiver. So where is the happiness in this vortex of human tragedy?’[5]
Unsurprisingly, the beneficiary is the person demented.[6] There is something wonderful about ‘demented happiness’. You don’t have to search for it. It’s there in you. You see it when you look into the mirror.
Let us remind ourselves of two reasonably obvious things.
Firstly, generally, old people are wise in at least one sense. They are good at regulating their emotions. This may be seen in the following observation: Older adults are more sensitized to interpreting happy moments in a situation, while they are less concerned with negative events -- they see these as fleeting events. The older we get the more that we seem to regulate our emotions.” [7]
Secondlyold people with their brain cells being slowly killed by dementia are generally happy.[8] (This is of course except in the case of some 30% or so of old people who don’t show signs of dementia as they age on). “The thing about Alzheimer's is that individuals are generally living in the moment and it's fascinating to consider what that means — the departure of grudges, hurt feelings, worries, regrets and expectations. The possibility to be happy and at peace endures.”[9]
This is easily observed by those closely associated with demented people. The following is an illustration. In April 2013, an Alzheimer's Association held a Gala functionIt's an annual event somewhere in the USA to remember and honor those affected by Alzheimer's and related dementias. In attendance were persons with the disease, their families, scientists and many others dedicated to helping the cause of the association. Here’s an account of the event given by someone dedicated to help demented people: [10]  “I talked with many, but one conversation in particular was very special. It was with a gentleman named John… I'm pretty sure John didn't remember me, but that didn't seem to bother him. He spoke eloquently about participating in research at Mayo Clinic and about how he works to exercise his brain.
He spoke with gratitude about his wife and how she supports him. We laughed about his fashion forward attire, including his purple tie. And when John began talking about his grandchildren, this often-reserved man was alive with passion.
For quite some time during our conversation, there was no sign of the disease thatfully entered John's life several years ago. That was, until the stories began to recycle. Yet each time John repeated his story he told it with the same delight. For John, he was telling me for the first time.
What I witnessed was an outpouring of pure and infectious joy. I loved being in his presence. I thought about how so many of us get caught up in what's going wrong in our lives, and yet John, diagnosed with Alzheimer's earlier than most, seemed almost stuck in a wonderful place of joy.[11]
Dolan’s ‘Designed Happiness’ With the preceding as a general background picture, let us look at the message from Professor Dolan, [12] a newhappiness guru. His main message is that attention is a scarce resource: give your attention to one thing and, by definition, you can't give it to something else. So, if you're not as happy as you could be, he points out "you must be misallocating your attention".
That’s largely the language of economists. It is to be expected from a professor of economics.[13] In plain English, he’s saying when we focus on one thing we can’t pay attention to something else. And to get more happiness, we need to pay more attention to happy things (design our happiness).
Three Comments  

1.   In Kahneman’s exposition of our experienced well-being (happiness), he draws a distinction between our two selves – the “remembering self” and the “experiencing self.”[14] Dolan has followed Kahneman in saying emphasis should be on our experiencing of something happy.[15] This is as opposed toremembering that experience.[16] It is now reflected in large scale national surveys of experienced well-being as a measure of the nation’s state of happiness.
2.    Dolan’s main point is also straight from Kahneman who had pointed out: “Attention is key. Our emotional state is largely determined by what we attend to, and we are not normally focused on our current activity and immediate environment… In normal circumstances … we draw pleasure and pain from what is happening at the moment. If we attend to it. To get pleasure from eating, for example, you must notice that you are doing it.”[17] Kahneman had also pointed out that you get better enjoyment (increased happiness) if you concentrate on what you are enjoying, as for example, you enjoy yourself when you are absorbed in some film, book or some activity that fascinated you. In other words, if Dolan’s book ‘Happiness by Design’ is put alongside Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast and Slow,’ some unkind observers are likely to point out that Dolan’s main message resembles some low-lying fruit plucked straight from Kahneman’s tree.
3.   Kahneman and other clinical psychologists have shown the world major flaws in the way ordinary people make judgments. This includes misconceptions about what can make us happy. Nevertheless, it’s good to have Dolan refresh their contribution [This is even though some may say Dolan’s ‘designed happinessis really a bit like re-inventing the old wheel]. However, let us remember this: people with dementia are least likely to benefit from it. But of course, that’s not going to bother them the least bit. They’re probably quite satisfied with their ‘demented happiness.’
Compiled by Gim Teh/3 June 2015

[1] ‘Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity — the differences appear to become lost. In logic, it is the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one, which produces errors or misunderstandings as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts. However, if the distinctions between the two concepts appear to be superficial, intentional conflation may be desirable for the sake of conciseness and recall’:
[2] The following are some examples: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” (2009) is a book by University of Chicagoeconomist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein. “Nudge won't nudge you-it will knock you off your feet", says Harvard Professor Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, another book which is a ‘must-read’ for anyone seeking the aid of science to ‘find’ happiness.  Another book is "Predictably Irrationalby Dan Ariely. It answers questions like, Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup?.
[3] Illusion of validity is the fallacious belief (cognitive bias) that additional information generates additional relevant data for predictions, even when it evidently does not…The illusion of validity may be caused in part byconfirmation bias[3] and/or the representativeness heuristic and could in turn cause the overconfidence effect”:
[4] I readily confess to being one such idiot. For many years, I labored under that illusion and read lots of books about stocks and stock markets. That was until when I discovered heuristic thinking defects and found my way to the ‘alter’ of Daniel Kahneman. I still have a library of books on investing. They are evidence of my many years of self-deception. They are to be freely given away to anyone seeking to follow that path. That too goes for my collection of books on palmistry and ‘astrology’ which I later realized is a ‘fake’: ( ).
[6] The Oxford Dictionary says demented means suffering from dementia. Its informal (Chiefly British) meaning is ‘Behaving irrationally due to anger,distress, or excitement’.
[7]  This ability to manage emotions is further supported by research that shows that older people are better at predicting how a certain situation will make them feel. They manage their environment and how they respond to it … The older we become the more … We become more careful in selecting situations that make us feel good... We also see the good in situations more and if there are negative events we tend to diminish their permanence … If we have very little control over these two factors--as is the case with people suffering from dementia who have lost their independence--then we compensate by comparing ourselves to others in the same situation ... This final process is reflected in the seemingly morbid interest some older adults have with newspaper obituaries. You are always better off than someone who is dead….”:
[8] Our pragmatic friend (Soon Cheong) is not wrong in this sense when he declared it’s good to be demented. However, bearing in mind the bigger picture, being demented is a basket full of bad and scary things that can happen to you. It’s not exactly a misfortune many of us would seriously wish to befall upon us.
[10] Angela Lunde is a dementia education specialist in the education core of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
[11]  Alzheimer's individual living in the moment — in happiness
[12] Who is Paul Dolan? He is the author of Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Allen Lane, 2014). He is also currently Professor of Behavioral Science at the renowned London School of Economics and Political ScienceFollowing Bhutan’s world famous index of a nation’s happiness, the UK Prime Minister (David Cameron) launched UK’s version of a National Well-being Survey in 2012. Paul Dolan was the man who designed that survey. He was a visiting research scholar at Princeton University where he rubbed shoulders with Nobel Laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman. It’s thus not surprising that Kahneman wrote a foreword for Dolan’s book.
[13] He is also keen bodybuilder. But we won’t hold that against him.
[14] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow, chapters 35-38,