Book Review – Stumbling on Happiness

Stumbling on HappinessStumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Everyone out there is seeking happiness. How do you find it? At the bottom of a self-help book? After decades of talk therapy to work out all your demons? Just by choosing happiness every day? There are so many theories out there about how we can achieve joy in our lives.

This book is not about that. This book is not a road map to finding happiness. It’s about why we don’t get there. It’s about why we make the same mistakes over and over again that make us miserable. It’s about how our brain tricks us into feeling emotions, and how we often aren’t really sure how we are going to feel or how we did feel, even if we usually can iterate how we feel in the current moment.

It’s about why everyone is so bad at finding happy, even if they spend their whole lives chasing it. And if you take all that to heart, you might be able to actually figure out how to get some happiness for yourself. There are an awful lot of psychological studies cited in this book, but the author does a good job of categorizing them and drawing overall conclusions from the varied results achieved over time in the area of happiness searching. I enjoyed the conversational writing style that turned what might be dry statistics in another style of presentation into humorous, interesting, thought-provoking information.

While I really enjoyed this book overall, I did find some sections slightly repetitive (this might be helpful for less careful readers but was annoying for me) and others a little draggy. I found it very helpful, though, and it inspired some really long, interesting discussions with my husband about our thoughts on happiness.

While I maintain my own theories about choosing happiness – and would call the “happiness” in the book more of a contentment or satisfaction with life – I think learning more about how the gray matter that rules my world works is always worthwhile.

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