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Stumbling on Happiness

336 pages, 2007

science & nature

science & nature

1064 books
self-improvement

self-improvement

909 books
philosophy

philosophy

711 books
psychology

psychology

705 books
Takeaways
Description

In this humorous and upbeat book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, which makes each of us think we will like it much more than we actually do. 

Gilbert explores how our illusions of foresight come from our inability to perceive how strange and unpredictable life will be in the future. In penetrating and witty prose, he explains why we misconceive our tomorrows and misjudge our satisfactions.

Our Predictions About Happiness Are Often Wrong

In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert explores the idea that we're not very good at predicting what will make us happy in the future. We tend to overestimate how much joy or sorrow certain events will bring us. So, next time you're sure that something will make you happy, take a step back and question your assumptions.

Memory Can Be Misleading

Gilbert digs into the concept that our memories aren't always accurate. We often remember things as being better or worse than they actually were. This can lead us to make decisions based on faulty recollections. So, it's worth taking a moment to check if your memories are playing tricks on you.

Imagination Isn’t Perfect

The book also explores how our imagination isn't a perfect tool. We often imagine future scenarios in a way that's influenced by our current emotions and circumstances. This can lead us to make decisions that might not actually lead to happiness. So, don't always trust your imagination when planning for the future.

The Power of Adaptation

Daniel Gilbert's research in Stumbling on Happiness reveals that we're pretty good at adapting to new situations, even ones we thought would be terrible. This ability to adapt can actually make us happier in the long run. So, don't be afraid of change, you might find it's not as bad as you think.

Happiness is Subjective

Finally, Gilbert reminds us that happiness is a subjective experience. What makes one person happy might not work for another. So, it's important to find what truly makes you happy, not what you think should make you happy. Take a look at your own life and see what brings you joy.

Quotes 5

Stumbling on Happiness is an absolutely fantastic book that will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how your own mind works. Ceaselessly entertaining.

Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell - Journalist, Author

With psychological insight, humor and wit, Gilbert offers us a fascinating tour of the human mind, leading us to a greater understanding of what makes us happy.

Steven PinkerSteven Pinker - Psychologist, Author

Gilbert's book has the rare ability to weave scientific research, humor, and insightful wisdom into a delightful narrative about the complexities of the human mind.

Oliver SacksOliver Sacks - Neurologist, Author

A witty, insightful, and superbly entertaining trek through the foibles of human imagination that will make you think, laugh, and wonder about the joys of finding happiness.

Daniel KahnemanDaniel Kahneman - Psychologist, Economist

Gilbert's exploration of how we predict our future feelings is fascinating, important, and beautifully written.

Richard ThalerRichard Thaler - Economist, Author
Malcolm GladwellSteven PinkerOliver SacksDaniel KahnemanRichard Thaler

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