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10 Best Quotes From "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert


Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?

Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight?

Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want?

Why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment we join it?

In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.


  1. “Apparently, gaining control can have a positive impact on one’s health and well-being, but losing control can be worse than never having had any at all.”

  2. “The greatest achievement of the human brain is its ability to imagine objects and episodes that do not exist in the realm of the real, and it is this ability that allows us to think about the future.”

  3. “Knowledge is power, and the most important reason why our brains insist on simulating the future even when we’d rather be here now, enjoying a goldfish moment, is that our brains want to control the experiences we are about to have.”

  4. “The word happiness is used to indicate at least three related things, which we might roughly call emotional happiness, moral happiness, and judgmental happiness.”

  5. “My friends tell me that I have a tendency to point out problems without offering solutions, but they never tell me what I should do about it.”

  6. “The fact that we often judge the pleasure of an experience by its ending can cause us to make some curious choices.”

  7. “Our brain accepts what the eyes see and our eye looks for whatever our brain wants.”

  8. “If you are like most people, then like most people, you don't know you're like most people.”

  9. “Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage.”

  10. “Our inability to recall how we really felt is why our wealth of experiences turns out to be poverty of riches.”