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“Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Todd Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness, written by Daniel Todd Gilbert, is an enlightening, thought-provoking book exploring the science behind the psychology of happiness.

Through immersive research and vivid storytelling, Gilbert dives deep into how people perceive and experience happiness, unearthing both the cognitive and neurological processes of feeling joy.

In this review, we’ll explore the structure, main arguments, and key takeaways of the book, before ultimately concluding on whether it’s worth reading.

Structure & Main Arguments

Stumbling on Happiness is broken up into five distinct sections: Problem Finding, Problem Solving, Problem Figuring, Problem Blending, and Problem Spotting.

Throughout the book, Gilbert carefully weaves together different scientific theories, philosophical ideas, and personal anecdotes to establish his overall argument that the mind is hardwired to resist happiness and that understanding the psychology behind it is essential for finding joy.

Moreover, Gilbert delves into the idea of future projections, proposing that predicting the future is impossible to do accurately.

He also explores how people succumb to the “curse of knowledge”, where knowledge acquired from experience serves as a barrier to perceiving the world objectively.

Finally, he puts forth the concept of “The Spot”, which is the idea that outer (peripheral) and inner (focal) “spots” construct mental perception and influence how one experiences momentary joy.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways from Stumbling on Happiness are numerous.

Firstly, Gilbert emphasizes the importance of understanding why the mind is wired to resist happiness and focuses on the need to become aware of one’s own mental processes in order to combat this natural instinct.

He further stresses the need to determine what would make a person truly happy, rather than looking for external rewards or successes.

Additionally, he highlights the complexity of predicting the future, pointing to the notion that it’s impossible to do with absolute accuracy.


In conclusion, Stumbling on Happiness is an informative and insightful book that sheds light on the science behind the psychology of happiness.

Through relative arguments, vivid storytelling, and accessible language, Gilbert paints a vivid picture of the cognitive and neurological processes of feeling joy.

It’s an ideal read for anyone interested in exploring the science behind why we experience happiness and how to increase self-awareness for a more joyous existence.

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