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Lions Roar : January 2007
DAN GILBERT SAYS we get in the way of our own happiness because we don’t understand how our mind works and the tricks it plays on us. The Harvard psy- chologist is author of the best-selling Stumbling on Happiness. His research shows that most of us look at both the past and the future through rose-colored glasses, downplaying painful times of the past and overestimating experiences in the future. He says this is just one of the ways that faulty thinking defeats our attempts to achieve happiness. Gilbert is in the growing field of happiness studies, which tries to determine what makes us happy and why. Some of its findings seem obvious but others may surprise you. In this interview with the Shambhala Sun, Daniel Gilbert offers insights to make you think—and think about your thinking. SHAMBHALA SUN: Why do we stumble on happiness instead of going there directly? DANIEL GILBERT: “Stumbling on happiness” has two meanings—to find some- thing by accident or to trip over something like a child’s bike in the garage—and I intended them both. The book is much more about the second meaning, though: how we make mistakes as we pursue happiness. When we try to make plans to discover happiness, we’re likely to find ourselves facedown in the mud. Even though it’s about happiness, your book seems to have a negative message—that we’re not in control of our minds and that we’re fooling ourselves all the time. It is a book about pitfalls and errors, but I don’t think learning about our mis- takes sends a negative message. Only good comes of knowing the truth, even Are we just too stupid to be happy? Psychologist DANIEL GILBERT reveals some of the common mental mistakes that defeat our search for happiness. DRAWINGS BY ANDRÉ SLOB SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 75