Stumbling on Happiness - Dan Gilbert
- reviewed by Elizabeth

This is a book that describes what science has to tell us about how and how well the human brain can imagine its own future, and about how and how well it can predict which of those futures it will most enjoy. This book is about a puzzle that many thinkers have pondered over the last two millennia, and it uses their ideas (and a few of my own) to explain why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.

This was one of the most fun books I've read in a long time. Shame on me for letting it linger on my To Read list for so long! I needlessly postponed many moments of out loud laughter and you-just-gotta-hear-this-part-honey read aloud excerpts. Gilbert entertainingly regales the reader with unbelievable psych experiments that demonstrate how little we know ourselves. His basic thesis is that strangers are a better proxy for us than we are ourselves when it comes to predicting how we will feel in a certain situation (provided those strangers are in said situation). Our perceptions of our individual and unique identities belie how very similar we are to the masses all considering themselves very un-average. This book did not change my life, but it did make me feel more cavalier about controlling my experiences. It helps keep you a little lighter in your step without presenting itself as a self-help manual in any way, shape, or form. For a touchstone, it reads like Malcolm Gladwell and James Surowiecki's totally fun populist theory books.

Fed to special guest reviewer's brain | October 21, 2008 | Comments (0)


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