Monday, December 31, 2007

Stumbling on Happiness - Daniel Gilbert

This is a great book! It's a fascinating read that is also laugh-out-loud funny. I had to read it when I could steal the time away to do it, which meant taking the book to the hair salon, the nail salon, the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Jiffy Lube. You know - all the places you are forced to sit still. And I would sit there and find myself laughing out loud surrounded by other people. Now that's a good book!

The book is well researched and full of empirical data supporting the theories put forth by Gilbert, a Harvard University psychologist. It's not an easy read because it makes you stop, think, re-read what you just read to see if you are really understanding it, before you can go on. It took me awhile to finish this book, but I loved every minute of it.

It's full of interesting concepts that make you want to share the book with lots of other people you know. In fact, when I told Dan Heath, one of the co-authors of the book Made to Stick (reviewed here in May '07), that I was reading this book and thought it was just fantastic, he emailed me back that it was one of his favorite books of 2007! Need I say more?

Well yes, I'll say a little more. Everything Gilbert talks about in this book made absolute sense to me. I can't say that I will suddenly be able to experience my life differently after understanding some of the common mistakes of perception and belief that I am now aware of. But I think I will be more conscious of how I perceive things and what factors affect my judgment and my ability to accurately project future outcomes and how I will feel about them.

Page 242 had a very enlightening section that I have shared with a number of people. This is how how he introduces the topic: "The belief-transmission game explains why we believe some things about happiness that simply aren't true. The joy of money is one example. The joy of children is another that for most of us hits a bit closer to home." Yes, and how!

The book is a fascinating, informative and enjoyable read. I agree with Dan Heath's assessment. This was one of my favorite books of 2007 as well!

No comments: