Stumbling on Happiness

Witty, engaging, and the kind of book you pass around the breakfast table to showcase the optical illusion that brought everything into perspective, so to speak. The book is less about happiness than about how the brain works to create pictures and fill in ideas of the future based on what it knows now. The optical illusion was one where you see your blind spot in action– the spot where your optical nerve attaches to your eye, and thus you can’t see anything in that particular area. Your brain fills in the blind spot with pixels of its choosing, to normalize your view.
I adore any book that includes as its first footnote a tongue-in-cheek note about how if you’re the type of person who gets frustrated flipping back and forth between the text and notes that rest assured “this” note is the only one worth reading.
If you’re reading this book actually looking for tips towards happiness, the best I can distill is the age-old “Be here now” – don’t get all anxious about what’s going to happen b/c you have no control over it, enjoy where you are now, be present in the moment. Don’t project a future. Recognize that your mind plays tricks on you, and you’ll fall for those tricks every time. Think for yourself.
Sidenote on babies– as a species we’re predisposed to want to continue our race, so there’s this super-myth that having kids is the best thing ever. Gilbert included some data from studies where marital happiness dips significantly after the birth of the first child and only returns to normal level when the kids are gone. Empty nest might actually be a good thing!
Highly recommended.

auth=Gilbert, Daniel