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Publisher's Summary

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 favorite 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?

©2006 Daniel Gilbert (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"An absolutely fantastic book that will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how your own mind works. Ceaselessly entertaining." (Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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Wow

Incredible insights into how misguided our predictions on what will make us happy are. This book really encouraged me to change the way I was thinking.

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Would most likely read again

His analogies and personal opinions caused disinterest at times, especially when what I visualized in his scenarios were "not what [I] imagine", based on a wide generalization of Americans, apparently; I more often than not had responses to situations that I suddenly felt I "shouldn't", for they argue with his conclusions. However, the case studies and theories proposed are fascinating, and lead to logical ideals of life improvement (or, at least, reflection). Over all, it was well written/read and is a book for great conversations!
Side-note: Glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about Schindler's List!

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Good book

Interesting ideas and science to back it up. Maybe I would have liked to hear more from joy of discovery.

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Psychology text

Not what I expected . Good for students of counseling. Not entertaining. Poignant parts, but I use audio books to distract from a bad commute- this didn't.

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  • jp
  • 08-16-15

Long, Boring and Limited Usefulness

Have you ever been around someone that thinks he's hilarious but really he's not? The unfunny jokes never stop in this book. That along with annoying writing style made this book painful to finish. After hours of blathering the "punchline" is quite disappointing.

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Enlightening book!!

Daniel's humor and scientific approach are great combined, making this book an good experience and a key life lesson.

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He is a clever and hilarious and brilliant writer

Really really fun to read. I laughed out loud several times. He was able to weave both deep psychological insight and poop jokes together in a way that was appropriate (depending on your level of political correctness), entertaining, and educational. I plan on reading any and all of the rest of his popular literature works.

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Engaging. Fresh. Research creatively delivered with humour.

True Edu-tainment. Author excellently & creatively shares his credible research in a relevant, and inspiring yet engaging and authentic, conversational tone that kept me eager to 'stay tuned' for more.

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Excellent

Very fun to listen to. I'm going to go over it again. Highly recommended! It's more descriptive than prescriptive yet useful.

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  • Wolfram
  • Pittsburgh, Panama
  • 07-18-15

Dry but worth reading

Honest assessment of human's shortcomings of imagination. He tells us how to overcome them but that we probably will not.