Why you should listen
Dan Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes -- and fool everyone's eyes in the same way -- Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss.
The premise of his current research -- that our assumptions about what will make us happy are often wrong -- is supported with clinical research drawn from psychology and neuroscience. But his delivery is what sets him apart. His engaging -- and often hilarious -- style pokes fun at typical human behavior and invokes pop-culture references everyone can relate to. This winning style translates also to Gilbert's writing, which is lucid, approachable and laugh-out-loud funny. The immensely readable Stumbling on Happiness, published in 2006, became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages.
In fact, the title of his book could be drawn from his own life. At 19, he was a high school dropout with dreams of writing science fiction. When a creative writing class at his community college was full, he enrolled in the only available course: psychology. He found his passion there, earned a doctorate in social psychology in 1985 at Princeton, and has since won a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Phi Beta Kappa teaching prize for his work at Harvard. He has written essays and articles for The New York Times, Time and even Starbucks, while continuing his research into happiness at his Hedonic Psychology Laboratory.
What others say
“Gilbert's elbow-in-the-ribs social-science humor is actually funny. ... But underneath the goofball brilliance, [he] has a serious argument to make about why human beings are forever wrongly predicting what will make them happy.” — New York Times Book Review
Dan Gilbert’s TED talks
More news and ideas from Dan Gilbert
In his TED Talk, Dan Gilbert remarks on the disconnect between our past and future selves, and how too often we delude ourselves that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. It's not the case ... and we should run with it.Continue reading
Dan Gilbert gave his first TED Talk in February 2004; The surprising science of happiness was one of the first we ever published, in September 2006. Here, the Harvard psychologist reminisces about the impact of TED, shares some suggestions of useful further reading — and owns up to some mistakes. When I gave this talk in 2004, the […]Continue reading