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Stumbling on Happinessby Daniel Gilbert
As fascinating and engaging as Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, Stumbling on Happiness is the perfect antidote to those self-help tomes that claim to offer the secret to a fulfilling life. Harvard professor Gilbert aims to show us why those books don't work, how we make choices that sabotage our own happiness, and why imagination so often fails us. A book full of complex ideas written in an utterly accessible style.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Not offering a self-help book, but instead mounting a scientific explanation of the limitations of the human imagination and how it steers us wrong in our search for happiness, Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, draws on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and behavioral economics to argue that, just as we err in remembering the past, so we err in imagining the future. 'Our desire to control is so powerful, and the feeling of being in control so rewarding, that people often act as though they can control the uncontrollable,' Gilbert writes, as he reveals how ill-equipped we are to properly preview the future, let alone control it. Unfortunately, he claims, neither personal experience nor cultural wisdom compensates for imagination's shortcomings. In concluding chapters, he discusses the transmission of inaccurate beliefs from one person's mind to another, providing salient examples of universal assumptions about human happiness such as the joys of money and of having children. He concludes with the provocative recommendation that, rather than imagination, we should rely on others as surrogates for our future experience. Gilbert's playful tone and use of commonplace examples render a potentially academic topic accessible and educational, even if his approach is at times overly prescriptive. 150,000 announced first printing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"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
"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
"Gilbert draws on a mixed bag of findings...and conducts rather contrived experiments. Replete with jokes, but ultimately lacking in structure and focus, this book will intrigue psychology buffs only to leave them wondering what happened to the main course." Library Journal
"Gilbert has a serious argument to make about why human beings are forever wrongly predicting what will make them happy....In an important sense, Stumbling on Happiness is a paean to delusion." Scott Stossel, The New York Times Book Review
A smart, witty, accessible, and laugh-out-loud funny reflection on human nature 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. 150,000 first printing.
About the Author
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.
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