Thursday, June 29, 2006


I’m showing you my reduction of Daniel Gilbert’s 238 pages of “Stumbling on Happiness” to about 8 pages of paraphrase and quotation, presented as a series of posts with the main title headings of the book.

The Reduced “Stumbling on Happiness” I. Prospection – looking forward in time.

Ch. 1 Journey to Elsewhen

All brains (squids, squirrels, chimps, humans) make predictions about immediate, local, personal, future based on previous conditioning. This does not require conscious thoughts, and might best be called ‘nexting’ reserving the term predicting for the thoughtful reflection about the future that we do.

The concept of ‘later’ seems unique to humans. Young children don’t have it and must develop it. It is associated with enlarged frontal lobes of cortex. Damage to frontal lobes (cf. the famous case of Phineas Gage) can cause inability to plan and leave one living in a ‘permanent present.’

Why are about 12% of the average person’s daily thoughts about the future?

Prospection can provide pleasure and prevent pain. Thinking about the future can be pleasurable. Anticipating unpleasant events can minimize their impact, motivate us to avoid them.

Prospection can assist control of future events, and we find it gratifying to exercise control, just for the exercise itself.

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