A smart and funny book by a prominent Harvard psychologist, which uses groundbreaking research and (often hilarious) anecdotes to show us why we’re so lousy at predicting what will make us happy – and what we can do about it.
Most of us spend our lives steering ourselves toward the best of all possible futures, only to find that tomorrow rarely turns out as we had expected. Why? As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains, when people try to imagine what the future will hold, they make some basic and consistent mistakes. Just as memory plays tricks on us when we try to look backward in time, so does imagination play tricks when we try to look forward.
Using cutting-edge research, much of it original, Gilbert shakes, cajoles, persuades, tricks and jokes us into accepting the fact that happiness is not really what or where we thought it was. Among the unexpected questions he poses: Why are conjoined twins no less happy than the general population? When you go out to eat, is it better to order your favourite dish every time, or to try something new? If Ingrid Bergman hadn’t gotten on the plane at the end of Casablanca, would she and Bogey have been better off?
Smart, witty, accessible and laugh-out-loud funny, Stumbling on Happiness brilliantly describes all that science has to tell us about the uniquely human ability to envision the future, and how likely we are to enjoy it when we get there.
About the Author
Daniel Gilbert is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Director of the Social Cognition and Emotion Lab. He is generally considered the world's foremost authority in the fields of affective forecasting and the fundamental attribution error. He has published numerous scientific articles and chapters, several short works of fiction, and is the editor of The Handbook of Social Psychology. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology by the American Psychological Association, fellowships from both the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Philosophical Society, and has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in the Behavioral Sciences. In 2002, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin listed Gilbert as one of the fifty most influential social psychologists of the decade, and in 2003 one of his research papers was chosen by the editors of P sychological Inquiry as one of four "modern classics" in social psychology.
Praise for Stumbling on Happiness…
“Stumbling on Happiness is an absolutely fantastic book that will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how your own mind works. Ceaselessly entertaining, Gilbert is the perfect guide to some of the most interesting psychological research ever performed. Think you know what makes you happy? You won’t know for sure until you have read this book.”
–Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics
“Everyone will enjoy reading this book, and some of us will wish we could have written it. You will rarely have a chance to learn so much about so important a topic while having so much fun.”
–Professor Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University, Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
“This is a brilliant book, a useful book, and a book that could quite possibly change the way you look at just about everything. And as a bonus, Gilbert writes like a cross between Malcolm Gladwell and David Sedaris.”
–Seth Godin, author All Marketers Are Liars