stumbling on happiness

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Happiness Pages: 2 (577 words) Published: November 3, 2013

Gilbert, D. (2006) Stumbling on Happiness. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf

About the author:
Daniel Gilbert was born on November 5, 1957. He was a high school drop out at age 19 who was interested in writing. He started at a community college taking creative writing classes. He later went on to receive a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Colorado Denver in 1981 and a Ph. D. in social psychology from Princeton University in 1985. He is currently a professor at Harvard University, a non-fiction writer, and a journalist. His book, Stumbling On Happiness, is an international best seller.

Main points:
Stumbling On Happiness isn’t a book on how to be happy, but a book on how to not let your brain trick you into thinking that something will make you happy when it won’t. Gilbert takes a scientific look at the illusions we make for ourselves when trying to create our future in our heads. He discusses six themes that alter our perception of what happiness really is. 1. Prospection: “The human being is the only animal that thinks about the future” (p 16). Gilbert states that there are two ways of “making future.” The first way is making predictions about the immediate future, often called “nexting.” This is something most animals do. The second way is planning for later in life. 2. Subjectivity: Gilbert makes two arguments on happiness. His arguments are that two peoples level of happiness can not be compared, nor can two kinds of happiness be compared. He says that it may be impossible to measure happiness because people feel and experience things differently. 3. Realism: The imagination sometimes works without us knowing, says Gilbert. We remember certain details of something, but our brain fills in the rest of the information. Our brains give more detail to the near future rather than the far future. 4. Presentism: “This tendency to fill in the holes in our memories of the past with material from the present is...
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