Bring the Family Address

Stumbling on Happiness

Time and Location
Saturday May 26, 2007, 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
International Ballroom Center

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert
Harvard University

Abstract
Most of us spend our days doing nice things for the people we are about to become - working, saving, and flossing so that our future selves will be happy and grateful. It doesn’t always work out that way. Why do we so often mispredict what will make our future selves happy? First, genes and cultures need our help to replicate, and they get it by lying to us about the nature and sources of our own happiness. Second, imagination is one of our species’ newest talents, and when we close our eyes and simulate the future we make a host of rookie errors. This combination of bad wisdom and weak imagination leads us to build futures that our future selves don’t much like, which leads our future selves to look backwards, shake their heads, and wonder what the heck we were thinking. This lecture answers their question.

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