Stumbling on Happiness (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard University professor in the College of Psychology, analyzes numerous research studies and theories of human behavior to create an entertaining look at how people can and do foster happiness in their future lives. Stumbling on Happiness pulls together some of Gilbert’s research on what is now known as affective forecasting to explain how people make choicesand more specifically, how they feel about those choices afterward. His key research question is “Why do we so often fail to know what will make us happy in the future?”
His work is highly entertaining and at times comical, but then so is human behavior. Gilbert highlights the human tendency to make predications on how one will feel in the future regarding the choices one makes today. He cleverly notes that when people are saddled with the choices they have made in the past, they may not be as happy as they initially would have predicted, for a multitude of reasons which remain largely in the unconscious brain.
Gilbert goes on to explain that not only is one relying on present circumstances when one makes decisions but also that the brain secretly fills in or imagines details about the future which may or may not have an impact on what will really happen. In other words, people concoct illusions about their future, with the magnificent brains filling in the unknown with fabricated details. This leads some to make some wild predictions and choices about...
(The entire section is 1901 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 16 (April 15, 2006): 7.
Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 8 (April 15, 2006): 391.
Library Journal 131, no. 5 (May 15, 2006): 86.
The New Republic 235, no. 1 (July 3, 2006): 30-33.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (May 7, 2006): 16.
Psychology Today 39, no. 3 (June, 2006): 34.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 10 (March 6, 2006): 60.
The Washington Post, May 21, 2006, p. T13.
(The entire section is 38 words.)