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Stumbling on Happiness

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Daniel Gilbert

Narrated By: Daniel Gilbert

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: May 2006

Duration: 7 hours 35 minutes


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.


  • Anonymous

    I loved this book. It was very insightful and applied to various areas of my life. I report survey and poll responses, so bonus! I found it very interesting and there was enough humor to keep it light. Loved it so much I am going to buy the book!

  • Rick Moore, NJ

    This was a very entertaining book that taught me a number of things as I chuckled my way through the various presentations of the latest research. It is worth a listen.

  • Anonymous

    Not sure I necessarily agree with everything that the author contends in this book, but I thought the research used to provide support for those contentions were (in and of themselves) quite interesting. I learned a lot about how our minds work. The author's writing style is generally concise and witty. On long drives, there's not much more I can ask for.

  • Gary Colberg

    I found this book to be very tedious and not very interesting. I didn't make it throught the second CD. The author / reader uses overly clever language that is very distracting from the subject matter to the point that I just could not listen it. If I were a Psycologist I might have found it to be more interesting, but....

  • Roseann Solnica

    If you're looking for a self help book telling you how to be happy this isn't it. But if you are interested in psychology and the reasons why we are or are not happy even with choices we were sure would make us happy then this is the book for you. Going into it with that frame of mind I'm sure you will find information that will surprise and delight you. And while it won't make you any happier at least maybe you will understand why you aren't happy. Gilbert delivers the material in a conversational style with popular culture references that should make it comfortable for non academics to listen to. If you want to understand how the human mind works give this book a shot.

  • Peggy Stortz

    Maybe there should be an abridged version of this one for people like me. Occasionally Gilbert would strike a resonant chord with me, but frequently I would find my mind wandering. After 2 of the 5 CD's, I just called it a day and sent it back.

  • Anonymous

    This book had some promising moments but on the whole, I found the facts and figures a little too dry. While I will remember some points of the book (such as the changing level of the happiness scale), most of it has already been discarded from my memory.

  • Alice

    Enjoyed this book very much. Listened to it twice. Even though it isn't a self-help book, I have used the technique of asking people to report their experience of something in order to be better informed in making a decision.

  • Michael Scott

    The title, and description of the book are a tad misleading. predicting what makes us happy is only partially what this book is about. The book is more an exploration on how the mind works - and how these interesting connections help us remember, and predict our future. Though not what I expected, it was a very good read - with a healthy dose of humor to keep it interesting. I'm already recommending the book to family and friends.

  • Sandra Payne

    I was disappointed at first. I was really in the mood for a good romatic, tear jerking book. I listened for a while and discovered that I really am learning something. That was a pleasant surprise and made me think a lot about the choices that I have made in my life. It made me think and I have used some of the information when dealing with my coworkers and some of my customers. It really is a good book.

Stumbling on Happiness

by Daniel Gilbert

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Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert