What does Stumbling on happiness says about imagination?

Stumbling on Happiness is a non – fiction book written by Daniel Gilbert. This is a very celebrated book and has some great insight into the imagination of one’s mind. In this book, Daniel Gilbert uses his psychology background to tell about how happiness gets reflected by our imaginations.

It is very well written and one of the most famous books. In this article, we have discussed the main topic of the book, i.e, imagination, and how it affects our life.

What is imagination?

As humans, we have the superpower to think and predict things. The prediction of things in our mind where we design things like our future happenings is known as the imagination. Now, imagination can be due to various reasons.

People sometimes imagines things that they want in life and often they also imagine if they have a belief that a particular event will be going to occur. Imagination can be done of any results or consequences of any particular thing in life.

Almost every human uses this power to picture their future in their mind. This can have lots of different advantages as well as disadvantages in one’s life.

At times, people imagine a negative picture of things in their minds because they fail or get rejections in life. Sometimes if things go wrong, our mind tends to imagine negative outcomes of it. This makes us overestimate the impact of the events that will be going to occur.

Negative imagination makes us believe that we will never be going to achieve whatever we desire in life. We tend to undervalue the impact of positive things in life. We think that negative things will occur because our mind predicts it but in reality, can our mind predict things about the future? Then why we believe in their prediction?

Imagining future

Gilbert told in his book that our mind is designed in a way that always makes it predicts things about the future. Our mind doesn’t always imagine about the future. According to his studies, he says about 12% of the daily thoughts we have in our mind is about the future.

But how effective is the imagination about the future? When we are imagining about our future, we are making it the way we want. There is no particular reality in it. Whatever we don’t want in our life we easily ignore our prediction of the future and only focuses on the things that we desire to happen.

Daniel Gilbert in his book wrote about three shortcomings about imagination. These are Realism, Presentism and Rationalization.

1. Realism – As mentioned earlier, our imagination fails to predict actual things as in our mind we only give importance to things we want to happen and ignores the things that we don’t want to happen which makes these imaginations unreal. There is no reality present in it.

2. Presentism – Our mind doesn’t know anything about the future. It just takes things from the present and redesigns it to look like a future. There is always a presence of some present moments in our imagination about the future.

3. Rationalization – Sometimes we ignore the bad consequences and find things that look familiar with the present conditions. Hence, when things will happen in reality it will be a lot different than what we have imagined.

Imagining future and happiness

We can imagine our own happiness as well. In the book, Stumbling with Happiness, Daniel Gilbert very nicely talks about how misinformed we are about our future happiness because of imagination. Obviously, future happiness is not entirely unpredictable. We can have a prior sense of what will give us happiness in the future and whatnot. But we tend to undervalue the real impacts of future happiness.

If we won’t get the level of happiness, we imagined we will tend to feel depressed because our expectations are not fulfilled. Due to our imagination, we often make bad decisions as well. If we see something bad will going to occur in our future, we simply change it to avoid it to happen. Sometimes, it can be good but there are times that can become a bad decision.

This book is a great piece to have an idea about how false imagination on happiness affects our life and judgments. We can have an idea that we are in reality imagines things that we want rather than what actually will occur. These are all false beliefs and we should not decide and even conclude things because of our mind’s predictions.

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