Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

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Gilbert begins his book by informing the reader that the sole thing a psychologist will be remembered for is one thing: how they finish the sentence, "The human being is the only animal that _______." So, after serious contemplation, he concludes that "[t]he human being is the only animal that thinks about the future" (Gilbert 4). He then goes on to explain that our ability to imagine is what allows humans to ponder the future. The frontal lobe of our brain is what advanced homo habilus into homo sapien; it is where we plan and think about the future. Additionally, whenever we think about the future, we often think about good things happening to us, leading us to believe those events will actually occur; or, we think about the future so that we can try and control it, since humans have an innate need for control. Part II: Subjectivity Happiness is subjective, so comparing two different individuals happiness is impossible. Since happiness is an experience, there is no way to truly describe what happiness is, although many have tried. Part III: Realism The human brain fills in the gaps of memories-a few key details will be remembered, and the brain will imagine the rest of the occasion based upon those memories. It fills in those details quickly, and we don't even notice. We notice the presence of certain good or bad things, but not the absence of them when we make decisions. Part IV: Presentism The things we know now alter our perceptions of the past and the future. Similarly, how we feel currently about something is how we thought we felt about it in the past, and how we think we will feel about it in the future. We think about time on a timeline, and have a tendency to think of sequential occasions as happening all at on... ... middle of paper ... ...hology has always intrigued me, so this book really captivated me. Needless to say, Gilbert is very knowledgable, and his passion of psychology is clearly conveyed in his writing. The concepts he writes about are quite advanced, yet his diction is simple. The straightforward style of writing get the points across, while the little snippets of humor keep it interesting. One criticism I have is that occasionally some concepts are redundant, extending the book and drawing out the process of reading. However, the author probably reiterated intentionally to ensure that the reader understands the idea and the supporting logic. Yet I still highly recommend keeping it on the book list, because it is simultaneously insightful, educational, and entertaining. Works Cited Gilbert, Daniel T. Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Vintage Books, 2007. Print.

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