Daniel Gilbert Stumbling on Happiness

ISBN 13: 9780007183135

Stumbling on Happiness

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9780007183135: Stumbling on Happiness

In this fascinating and often hilarious work - winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 - pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how - and why - the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy.We all want to be happy, but do we know how? When it comes to improving tomorrow at the expense of today, we're terrible at predicting how to please our future selves.In `Stumbling on Happiness' Professor Daniel Gilbert combines psychology, neuroscience, economics and philosophy with irrepressible wit to describe how the human brain imagines its future - and how well (or badly) it predicts what it will enjoy. Revealing some of the amazing secrets of human motivation, he also answers thought-provoking questions - why do dining companions order different meals instead of getting what they want? Why are shoppers happier when they can't get refunds? And why are couples less satisfied after having children while insisting that their kids are a source of joy?

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Review:

Do you know what makes you happy? Daniel Gilbert would bet that you think you do, but you are most likely wrong. In his witty and engaging new book, Harvard professor Gilbert reveals his take on how our minds work, and how the limitations of our imaginations may be getting in the way of our ability to know what happiness is. Sound quirky and interesting? It is! But just to be sure, we asked bestselling author (and master of the quirky and interesting) Malcolm Gladwell to read Stumbling on Happiness, and give us his take. Check out his review below. --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of bestselling books Blink and The Tipping Point, and is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Several years ago, on a flight from New York to California, I had the good fortune to sit next to a psychologist named Dan Gilbert. He had a shiny bald head, an irrepressible good humor, and we talked (or, more accurately, he talked) from at least the Hudson to the Rockies--and I was completely charmed. He had the wonderful quality many academics have--which is that he was interested in the kinds of questions that all of us care about but never have the time or opportunity to explore. He had also had a quality that is rare among academics. He had the ability to translate his work for people who were outside his world.

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


About the Author:

Daniel Gilbert was born in 1957 and is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the Phi Beat Kappa Teaching Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. His research has been featured in the 'New York Times Magazine', Forbes, Money, 'The New Yorker', 'Scientific American', 'Oprah Magazine', 'Psychology Today', and more. His short stories have appeared in 'Amazing Stories' and 'Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine', as well as other magazines and anthologies. 'Stumbling on Happiness' was awarded the Royal Society of Science Prize in 2007.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this fascinating and often hilarious work - winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 - pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how - and why - the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy.We all want to be happy, but do we know how? When it comes to improving tomorrow at the expense of today, we re terrible at predicting how to please our future selves.In `Stumbling on Happiness Professor Daniel Gilbert combines psychology, neuroscience, economics and philosophy with irrepressible wit to describe how the human brain imagines its future - and how well (or badly) it predicts what it will enjoy. Revealing some of the amazing secrets of human motivation, he also answers thought-provoking questions - why do dining companions order different meals instead of getting what they want? Why are shoppers happier when they can t get refunds? And why are couples less satisfied after having children while insisting that their kids are a source of joy?. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007183135

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Book Description Harper Perennial, 2007. Book Condition: New. 2007. New Ed. Paperback. In this fascinating and often hilarious work - winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 - pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how - and why - the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. Num Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: JM; VSP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 132 x 21. Weight in Grams: 224. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780007183135

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Book Description Harper Perennial. Book Condition: New. 2007. New Ed. Paperback. In this fascinating and often hilarious work - winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 - pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how - and why - the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. Num Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: JM; VSP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 132 x 21. Weight in Grams: 224. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780007183135

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