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BOOK Stumbling on Happiness

by Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D..

12 Credit Hours - $159
Last revised: 04/01/2013

Course content © Copyright 2013 - 2023 by Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.


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Happiness imageStumbling on Happiness


By: Daniel Gilbert


Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Vintage (March 20, 2007)

Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

CE Hours: 12


















Taking the Course:

This course includes reading the book and then completing the CE test (The actual book is not included in the cost of this CE course). You can log in and take the test at any time. The test-help feature is not available for the Book Courses; however, you can take the test as many times as necessary until you pass. As with all of our courses, you pay after you have completed all the course requirements. The course also includes viewing the Author’s presentations for TED Conferences:

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness (20 min)

Dan Gilbert: Why we make bad decisions (30 min)


Description from the publisher

Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?• Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? • Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? • Why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment we join it? In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.





Describe one of the greatest achievements of the human brain

Discuss frontal lobe syndrome

Explain the differences between emotional, moral and judgmental happiness

Discuss the difference between virtue and happiness

Discuss the difference between perception, imagination and memory



Example Reviews


“Think you know what makes you happy? This absolutely fantastic book that will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how your own mind works.” —Steven D. Levitt, author ofFreakonomics


“A psychological detective story about one of the great mysteries of our lives . . . You ought to read it. Trust me.”—Malcolm Gladwell, author ofBlink


“A fascinating new book that explores our sometimes misguided attempts to find happiness.” —Time


“A witty, insightful and superbly entertaining trek through the foibles of human imagination.” —New Scientist


“Gilbert’s book has no subtitle, allowing you to invent your own. I’d call it ‘The Only Truly Useful Book on Psychology I’ve Ever Read.’” —James Pressley,Bloomberg News


Publishers Weekly

Not offering a self-help book, but instead mounting a scientific explanation of the limitations of the human imagination and how it steers us wrong in our search for happiness, Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, draws on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and behavioral economics to argue that, just as we err in remembering the past, so we err in imagining the future. "Our desire to control is so powerful, and the feeling of being in control so rewarding, that people often act as though they can control the uncontrollable," Gilbert writes, as he reveals how ill-equipped we are to properly preview the future, let alone control it. Unfortunately, he claims, neither personal experience nor cultural wisdom compensates for imagination's shortcomings. In concluding chapters, he discusses the transmission of inaccurate beliefs from one person's mind to another, providing salient examples of universal assumptions about human happiness such as the joys of money and of having children. He concludes with the provocative recommendation that, rather than imagination, we should rely on others as surrogates for our future experience. Gilbert's playful tone and use of commonplace examples render a potentially academic topic accessible and educational, even if his approach is at times overly prescriptive.



Anticipating the future, psychologist Gilbert suggests, is the brain's most important function, and the notion oflater, a powerful idea. But why not live in the here and now, as many self-help gurus urge? Because, Gilbert says, thinking about the future can be pleasurable; for instance, daydreaming tends to be about success and achievement "rather than fumbling or failing." Citing the research of scientists and philosophers through the ages and incorporating facts and theories from psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert discusses the science of happiness, the shortcomings of imagination as well as the illusions of foresight. And far from being a dry tome, the book is a sly, irresistible romp down, or through, memory lane--past, present, and future. It is not only wildly entertaining but also hilarious (if David Sedaris were a psychologist, he very well might write like this) and yet full of startling insight, imaginative conclusions, and even bits of wisdom.


Gilbert ImageAbout the author (Author statement from the publisher)

Daniel Gilbert is Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. His research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Self, Men's Health, Redbook, Glamour, Psychology Today, and many others. His short stories have appeared in Amazing Stories and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, as well as other magazines and anthologies. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.










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