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Now Gilbert has written a book about his psychological research. It is called Stumbling on Happiness, and reading it reminded me of that plane ride long ago. It is a delight to read. Gilbert is charming and funny and has a rare gift for making very complicated ideas come alive.
Stumbling on Happiness is a book about a very simple but powerful idea. What distinguishes us as human beings from other animals is our ability to predict the future--or rather, our interest in predicting the future. We spend a great deal of our waking life imagining what it would be like to be this way or that way, or to do this or that, or taste or buy or experience some state or feeling or thing. We do that for good reasons: it is what allows us to shape our life. And it is by trying to exert some control over our futures that we attempt to be happy. But by any objective measure, we are really bad at that predictive function. We're terrible at knowing how we will feel a day or a month or year from now, and even worse at knowing what will and will not bring us that cherished happiness. Gilbert sets out to figure what that's so: why we are so terrible at something that would seem to be so extraordinarily important?
In making his case, Gilbert walks us through a series of fascinating--and in some ways troubling--facts about the way our minds work. In particular, Gilbert is interested in delineating the shortcomings of imagination. We're far too accepting of the conclusions of our imaginations. Our imaginations aren't particularly imaginative. Our imaginations are really bad at telling us how we will think when the future finally comes. And our personal experiences aren't nearly as good at correcting these errors as we might think.
I suppose that I really should go on at this point, and talk in more detail about what Gilbert means by that--and how his argument unfolds. But I feel like that might ruin the experience of reading Stumbling on Happiness. This is a psychological detective story about one of the great mysteries of our lives. If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition, you ought to read it. Trust me. --Malcolm Gladwell
I have read numerous books on behavior, biases and didn't expect this one to stand out.
It brought a new twist on how valid our foretelling is and was often quite funny. Read more
I hated this book. I'm sorry, Dan Gilbert. I know you are a Harvard person and all but the book just not that great. Read morePublished 1 day ago by momoftwo
I enjoyed parts of the book and gained some interesting and valuable insight about how flawed thinking can lead to less happiness. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Brian Wirtz
I probably stumbled on this book, expecting will give me some key to happiness. Instead, got a dose of behavioral economics. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Harish Nair
Interesting psychological observations, though perhaps not startling originalPublished 11 days ago by PeterB
Truly a fantastic book. The conclusions about what happiness is, what it isn't, and how the mind operates in its unceasing search for happiness are thoroughly supported by... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Andrew Morrow
Very good explanation, easy to understand. Great to know how we fool ourselves! Moreover, a fast paced book, you will read it like a page turner.Published 16 days ago by W. R. Jongejan
Wow! This book won't tell you how to be happy, and the ones that claim they do wont either. Reading this book gets my brain ticking! Read morePublished 18 days ago by celnav