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Extended Audio Sample Stumbling on Happiness Audiobook, by Daniel Gilbert Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (14,220 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Gilbert Narrator: Daniel Gilbert Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2006 ISBN: 9780739332238
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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 favourite 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?

Smart, witty, accessible and laugh-out-loud funny, Stumbling on Happiness 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.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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 All Marketers Are Liars
  • 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. Professor Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University, Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • 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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Boryana Rusenova Ina | 2/15/2014

    " Great read if you are a planner like me, and you wonder how come when things go your way, sometimes you end up in a place that is much less enjoyable than what you pictured in your head. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 2/9/2014

    " I recommend this to clients on a regular basis. Research, without the slog. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wil Roese | 1/21/2014

    " I have to admit I only made to page 200 and something. It starts out good. Dr Gilbert is very witty and I had to chuckle at almost every page. This book shows using the results of psychological experiments that our memory of the past and our predictions for the future are flawed by rationalization and other tricks our mind plays on us. Gilbert applies this to happiness but that is about as deep as it gets. He seems to disregard the notions of virtue and happiness by limiting his discussion to what he terms emotional happiness and then shows that we can not predict what will make us emotionally happy. The whole book is just experiment after experiment based on rewards such as snack food and from this he extrapolates ideas about our ultimate happiness. It became very monotonous and I could not finish it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 1/18/2014

    " Surprising research on what really makes people happy. Interesting and actionable. Recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ken | 1/16/2014

    " Written with a lot of humor, a pleasurable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bogdana | 1/12/2014

    " insightful and pleasant to read - Malcolm Gladwell-ish in style (the title was a little misleading as to what the content really was about :P at least for me) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shaeley Santiago | 1/12/2014

    " Written by a psychologist, this book examines the role of memory on our idea of happiness. While the author has some great examples of word choice, I found the book a bit tedious and considered giving up on it at one point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aljaž Fajmut | 12/21/2013

    " Daniel points out some interesting facts about future simulation and mind biases, which have direct impact on our emotions. I liked the information he provided in the book, however I was expecting more examples and solutions how to improve ourselves when the mind is playing tricks on us. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dora | 12/17/2013

    " This book, along with Predictably Irrational and the Paradox of Choice to name a few all seem to cull the same research and put a particular spin on the results and how they reflect our daily lives. Entertaining but a bit repetitive. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelsey Jackson | 12/5/2013

    " I picked up the book on a day I was desperate to find happiness and figured I should give a self-help book a chance. Reading it, however, I found I disagreed with too much of it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie Browne | 11/20/2013

    " This was a very interesting book. Although it read a lot like a psychology text book it gave me a whole new perspective on how I veiw my life and my future happiness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carissa | 11/22/2011

    " a very interesting book that teaches the reader about the way our minds work and why we can almost never predict (at least logically) what will, in the end, make us happy. fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Merry Brooke | 5/1/2011

    " Pretty good, very interesting! A lot of stuff he said kind of seemed like common sense, but something I probably wouldn't have thought of without it being pointed out to me. I just wish he had given more solutions instead of observations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alb | 2/2/2011

    " This book was just ok. I wasn't really blown away by many of the insights. There were a few things that have stuck with me about how we perceive the future and our future selves but all in all I think it was a little repetitive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Briana | 7/28/2009

    " interesting if youre into psychology and why people do what they do "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan Stembridge Proserpio | 10/19/2008

    " I looked for a book to explain why people are so poorly able to predict what will bring them happiness, and found this perfect book to answer my question. And answers to a few more, too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 2/28/2008

    " A fun read which I picked up from the library after seeing Gilbert's TED Talk. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenn | 1/3/2008

    " I really enjoyed this book's researched perspective on how our brain interprets, stores, and recalls data; not to mention how bad we are at projecting our emotional selves backward and forward in time. Enough research to prove the point but not too much to bog it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsten | 5/22/2007

    " This is actually a 4.5 -- it was fascinating! "

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About the Author
Author Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Director of the Social Cognition and Emotion Lab. He is generally considered the world's foremost authority in the fields of affective forecasting and the fundamental attribution error. He has published numerous scientific articles and chapters, several short works of fiction, and is the editor of The Handbook of Social Psychology. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology by the American Psychological Association, fellowships from both the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Philosophical Society, and has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in the Behavioral Sciences. In 2002, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin listed Gilbert as one of the fifty most influential social psychologists of the decade, and in 2003 one of his research papers was chosen by the editors of P sychological Inquiry as one of four "modern classics" in social psychology.