Stumbling on Happiness

  • by Daniel Gilbert
  • Narrated by Daniel Gilbert
  • 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A smart and funny book by a prominent Harvard psychologist, which uses groundbreaking research and (often hilarious) anecdotes to show us why we're so lousy at predicting what will make us happy, and what we can do about it. Most of us spend our lives steering ourselves toward the best of all possible futures, only to find that tomorrow rarely turns out as we had expected. Why? As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains, when people try to imagine what the future will hold, they make some basic and consistent mistakes. Just as memory plays tricks on us when we try to look backward in time, so does imagination play tricks when we try to look forward.
Using cutting-edge research, much of it original, Gilbert shakes, cajoles, persuades, tricks, and jokes us into accepting the fact that happiness is not really what or where we thought it was. Among the unexpected questions he poses: Why are conjoined twins no less happy than the general population? When you go out to eat, is it better to order your favorite dish every time, or to try something new? If Ingrid Bergman hadn't gotten on the plane at the end of Casablanca, would she and Bogey have been better off?

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What the Critics Say

"An absolutely fantastic book that will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how your own mind works. Ceaselessly entertaining." (Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Book!

Stumbling on Happiness is a must-hear. The author does a masterful job of explaining and summarizing scientific data on the topic of human happiness. He specifically does NOT promise to give you tools to become more happy; just to better understand why you aren’t. And while the book is certainly no how-to guide, I nonetheless found the information to be quite useful in figuring out how to increase my happiness quotient, and even more useful in figuring out key factors affecting the happiness of people I habitually interact with.

The author reads the book, and does a nice job. The style is breezy (but not simplistic) and fairly funny. It held my interest every minute.
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- Terril Lowe

Stumbling on a good book

I really wasn't in the mood to read this book but felt that it was something I needed to do. I thought it was going to be boring and hard to get through. I wanted to get it over with so I downloaded it and hit the play button.

Boy was I surprised.

This book turned out to be one of the best books I have listened to to date, and I've listened to a lot of books. Gilbert's writing is light, and easy to understand. His narration is great, too. He has a wonderful sense of humor and provides numerous examples to get his points across.

Gilbert talks about why our memories are so problematic, how narrow our perception of reality really are, and what makes us terrible predictors of our own happinesse. He shows how our present feelings influence memories of our past as well as our imagination of the future. He also talks about how self-deception, perceptions of regret, and freedom of choice can contribute to or undermine our happiness.

The book isn't meant to be a self-help book, but the understanding I gained, definitely helped me.
I loved this book and will probably listen to is several more times.


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- reggie p "reggie"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2006
  • Publisher: Random House Audio