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Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert



It’s not an instructional manual on how to be happy, rather it describes what science has to tell us about how and how well the brain can imagine its own future, and how it can predict which of those futures it will most enjoy. Human beings are the only animals that think about the future. That’s why meditation is so challenging... not to think about the future requires we convince our frontal lobe not to do what it was designed to do. When people daydream about the future studies show they tend to imagine themselves achieving and succeeding rather than messing up and failing. We contemplate future events by stimulating those events in our imagination and then by noting our emotional reactions to that stimulation. Presentism currently being used wrong today – the tendency to judge historical figures by contemporary standards. Studies show people are quite adept at finding positive way to view things once those things become their own. People of very age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than regret things they did. Why? The psychological immune system has a more difficult time manufacturing positive and credible views of inactions than of actions. Most of the time we judge the pleasure of an experience by its ending.