What would you do right now if you learned that you were going to die in ten minutes? Would you race upstairs and light that Marlboro you’ve been hiding in your sock drawer since the Ford administration? Would you waltz into your boss’s office and present him with a detailed description of his personal defects? Would you drive out to that steakhouse near the new mall and order a T-bone, medium rare, with an extra side of the reallybad cholesterol? Hard to say, of course, but of all the things you might do in your final ten minutes, it’s a pretty safe bet that few of them are things you actually did today.
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 presumed. 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.
Smart, witty, accessible, and laugh-out-loud funny, Stumbling on Happiness brilliantly describes all that science has to tell us about the uniquely human endeavor to envision the future, and how likely we are to enjoy it when we get there.