Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert

As long as your brain’s guess about the next word turns out to be right, turning black squiggles into ideas, scenes, characters, and concepts, blissfully unaware that your nexting brain is predicting the future of the sentence at a fantastic rate. It is only when your brain predicts badly that you suddenly feel avocado.

That is, surprised. See?

Human minds are weird. Half of what we perceive is fictionalized by our mind for us. Even the most logical of minds makes strange errors and creates story lines. Gilbert does an excellent job of pointing out the ways our minds fool, confuse and console us. He points to studies on happiness that indicate handicapped folks and former convicts show higher happiness and satisfaction ratings than the average able-bodied good citizen. Why? Is it that the worst has already happened to these folks and they have less to fear? Have they learned that bad things are surmountable? Are they merely lying to themselves? Why do people making $40,000 claim to be as happy or happier than people making $400,000? An fascinating and sometime unnerving book.