Stumbling on Happiness
By Daniel Gilbert
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9781400042661, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 2, 2006
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Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? Why do patients remember long medical procedures as being less painful than short ones? Why do home sellers demand prices they wouldn’t dream of paying if they were home buyers? Why are shoppers happier when they can’t get refunds? Why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment we join it?
In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.
Daniel Gilbert is Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. His research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Self, Men’s Health, Redbook, Glamour, Psychology Today, and many others. His short stories have appeared in Amazing Stories and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, as well as other magazines and anthologies. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“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.”
“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
“Gilbert is a professor by trade, but he’s every bit as funny as Larry David. Stumbling on Happiness may be one of the most delightfully written layman’s books on an academic topic since Robert M. Sapolsky’s Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.” –Washington Post Book World
“Extraordinarily readable.” –Santa Cruz Sentinel
“A lucid, charmingly written argument for why our expectations don’t pan out.” –Psychology Today
“Insightful, inquisitive and, at times, hilarious. . . . Sensitively probes the realities we take for granted.” –Miami Herald
“An engrossing and witty look at how the human brain is wired. . . . Gilbert’s book has no subtitle, allowing you to invent your own. I’d call it ‘The Only Truly Useful Book on Psychology I’ve Ever Read.’” –James Pressley, The Seattle Times
“Gilbert’s elbow-in-the-ribs social-science humor is actually funny . .. (but) underneath the goofball brilliance, Gilbert has a serious argument to make about why human beings are forever wrongly predicting what will make them happy.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating new book that explores our sometimes misguided attempts to find happiness.” –Time Magazine
“A leader in the burgeoning study of affective forecasting, Mr. Gilbert’s new book . . . is already getting good reviews for its lucid explanations of the latest scientific research.” –The Wall Street Journal
“Provocative and hilarious. . . . Gilbert’s book is a brilliant expose of how we think and how we plan . . . with wry and telling humor on every page.” –The State (South Carolina)
“Gilbert’s playful tone and use of commonplace examples render a potentially academic topic accessible and educational.” –Publishers Weekly
“Gilbert examines what sciences has discovered about how well the human brain can predict future enjoyment. . . . The ideas may be disconcerting, but they’re backed by solid research and presented with persuasive charm and wit.” –Kirkus Reviews
“With some loopy humor, lively wit and panache, Gilbert explores why the most important decisions of our lives are so often made so poorly.” –Kirkus Reviews 2006 Health & Living
“Have you ever finished a book, then started right in reading it again from the start? Was it so satisfying you couldn’t bear to let it end? Or so deep you couldn’t understand parts until you read it over again? Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert has both those qualities. . . . I learned a great deal from this book. . . . I predict you will be happy you read it. And you may even want to read it from the start again. I did.” –Words on Books
“This book is brilliant. . . . It’s a book that will be talked about by people everywhere. Trust me on that.” –800CEORead
“In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert shares his brilliant insights into our quirks of mind, and steers us toward happiness in the most delightful, engaging ways. If you stumble on this book, you’re guaranteed many doses of joy.” –Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“In a book that is as deep as it is delightful, Daniel Gilbert reveals the powerful and often surprising connections between our experience of happiness and how we think about the future. Drawing on cutting edge psychological research and his own sharp insights into everyday events, Gilbert manages to have considerable fun while expertly illuminating some of the most profound mysteries of the human mind. I confidently predict that your future will be happier if you read this pathbreaking volume.” –Daniel L. Schacter, Harvard University, author of Searching for Memory and The Seven Sins of Memory
“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.” –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 of All Marketers Are Liars