Stumbling on happiness

I’ve just finished Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. It’s chockful of psychological experiments wittily narrated with a general message that things are not quite what they seem. When we remember things apparently only part of our memories are real, and our brains make the rest up. The way we feel at the moment hugely colours how we expect the future to turn out. There are a variety of other ways in which we confuse ourselves about the utility of various choices before us.

I quite like that Gilbert doesn’t have the almost-obligatory list of what you should do as a result of his insights. I think that’s because his research suggests very strongly that we’re just not well equipped to rationally manage ourselves for happiness.

It left me with the comforting thought that I could be wrong about an awful lot of things… so why get into a state about stuff over which I don’t have that much control anyway?

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