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Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness (2006)

by Daniel Gilbert

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i loved this book.

There is no simple formula for finding happiness. But if our great big brains do not allow us to go surefootedly into our futures, they at least allow us to understand what makes us stumble.

By the way, if you liked it too, you should check [b:Thinking, Fast and Slow|11468377|Thinking, Fast and Slow|Daniel Kahneman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1317793965s/11468377.jpg|16402639]. Some ideas will repeat, sure, but it's really worth it. ( )
  Spr1t3 | Jul 31, 2018 |
As promised in the introduction, this book said very little about how to make yourself happy and focused instead of why we do and don't find ourselves happy in various situations. Even knowing that ahead of time, it was a little frustrating reading this book sometimes because his ideas were so simply presented that I felt that it would naturally lead a simple answer of how to be happier. Of course that wasn't the case and really I wouldn't have trusted such an answer anyway. A couple of weeks after finishing the book, though, I find that it definitely gave me some interesting ways to look at how I look at my future and decisions I make. It's also been the seed of several interesting conversations with friends about the nature of happiness and its pursuit.

The books reads easily and has lots of witty banter inserted into it. Some of the time this works and some of the time it feels like he's stretching out points over pages that could be summed up in a few paragraphs. I would have liked the book better if it was shorter. As interesting as I found the material, it wasn't so complex that it couldn't have been considerably condensed. ( )
  dan4mayor | Jun 28, 2018 |
I seem to be the only person who enjoyed this book..... ( )
  Skidder | Feb 4, 2018 |
I seem to be the only person who enjoyed this book..... ( )
  Bknets | Jan 28, 2018 |
I really liked this book. I was expecting self-help genre writing, actually, based on the title and cover, so I was pleased to discover that this is more of a cognitive psychology science book, geared towards a broader audience but not too badly dumbed down.
This book covers how we define happiness, how we know if/when we are happy, and how we succeed or fail at predicting what we should choose to make ourselves happy. It also offers suggestions about how we might be more successful at making choices that will lead to more happiness, and certainly helps to make sense of a lot of bizarre human behavior we are probably all so used to that we forget how bizarre it really is.
I won my copy of this book free through a Goodreads giveaway. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Gilbert has a serious argument to make about why human beings are forever wrongly predicting what will make them happy. Because of logic-processing errors our brains tend to make, we don't want the things that would make us happy — and the things that we want (more money, say, or a bigger house or a fancier car) won't make us happy.
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One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune and fame.

Will Cather, "Le Lavandou," 1902
For Oli, under the apple tree
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Priests vow to remain celibate, physicians vow to do no harm, and letter carriers vow to swiftly complete their appointed rounds despite snow, sleet, and split infinitives.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0007183135, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:30 -0400)

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Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Why do patients remember long medical procedures as less painful than short ones? Why do home sellers demand prices they wouldn't dream of paying if they were home buyers? Why does the line at the grocery store always slow down when we join it? In this book, Harvard psychologist Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Using the latest research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what we have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there, and why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.--From publisher description.… (more)

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