#72/111: Stumbling on Happiness

What is it about?

If you want to know how we think, feel and experience happiness, Daniel Gilbert is your person. He explores how happiness is influenced and how we make decisions.

What can I learn?

Uncertainty makes you happy: You probably wouldn’t think so. I’m happier if I know that I will have my job tomorrow than being uncertain about. Actually, no. People are happier if they don’t know what will happen. If something haven’t happened yet, we often overestimate it. Therefore we feel more happy because of the opportunities that can be. You could say that we are natural optimists.

Falsification and Approval: That’s an interesting observation which you can observe in nearly every discussion. If you want a theory approved, most time a single piece of evidence is sufficient. However, if something tries to falsify your theory, you will probably demand many pieces of evidence. This is a natural behavior which is quite rational. If you would check every assumption everyday you wouldn’t doing much more.

We are very similar: About 8 of 10 people with lung cancer will die within the next five years. If you have lung cancer, you probably hope that you are in the 20% that won’t die. There are other studies, e.g. one where university professors should rate their teaching skill. About 96% rated it as above average. The worst thing is, we are actually pretty similar. Not everybody is above average. Not everybody belongs to the 20% which won’t die from lung cancer. Not everybody is a great lover and an exceptional businessman.


Stumbling on Happiness is pretty okay. One criticizing point is that Daniel Gilbert tries to cover too much. If you want to read more about happiness I would recommend :59 seconds. If you want to read more about decision making I would recommend readingĀ  Predictionably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

#9/111: :59 Seconds

What is it about?

Prof Wiseman writes about a lot of psychological misconceptions in various topics like creativity, relationships or happiness. For each of these topics he cities scientific studies, busts old myths and gives valuable tips.

Key points?

There is many great material in this book, so here is an example. You want to come up with a creative solution to a problem: You can brainstorm with a group, brainstorm alone or solve a hard word puzzle. Which one will you take? If you believe in scientific studies, the last one. Researchers have shown that brainstorming in groups decreases the quality and quantity of ideas. The best way is ask your subconsciousness. But how?

Think about your problem for some seconds. Now you have to distract your consciousness mind. E.g. try to solve a hard word puzzle. If you have finished think another some seconds about your problem and write down your solutions.


This book is just tremendous. There is so much actionable advice in this book about a bunch of different topics. The best thing: This advice got a scientific background, it is not just happy world advice. Furthermore, Richard Wiseman cities studies which shows that a lot of this self-help literature is not helping at all or is actually worsening the situation.