Recipe for Happiness by Dan Gilbert

Dan GilbertDan Gilbert is an author of the bestselling book: Stumbling on happiness. He combine scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and behavioral economics.

Here, you can see few of his major point on How to be happier from his speech for TED Talks (You can see his full speech under this article).

About our Brain

Dan Gilbert says Human brain has a simulator… We can imagine things and situations. It is what we have and animals do not. Problem is a tendency of simulator to behave badly. He calls it Impact bias.

Impact Bias

We overate the difference between two futures we are at risk. It can be for example:

  • Getting or not getting a promotion
  • Gaining or losing romantic partner
  • Winning or losing an election


We won’t be that less happy, it’s just an overrated image

In real, there is much less intensity and much less durations than people expect.

Big changes in life have minimal impact on our happiness after one year.

Dan Gilbert describe the study, which proves that major life traumas affect people less then they expect. After three months, those traumas actually have no effect on happiness.

“Secret” of happiness

Happiness can be synthesized.  We can change our views of the world to feel better about the world in which we live. If you realize this skill, you can use it for your own prosperity – for increasing your happiness.

Difference between natural and synthetic happiness

  • Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted.
  • Synthetic happiness is what we make when we do not get what we wanted.


So why all of us are not happy all the time?

We believe that natural happiness is better than synthetic happiness.

Why we believe it?  What kind of economic engine would keep churning if we believe that not getting what we want could make us just as happy as getting it.

Shopping mall full of Zen monks is not going to be profitable because they don’t want stuff enough.

Finally the recipe for happiness

Let’s say that synthetic happiness is as real and enduring as happiness when you get exactly what you were aiming for.  It’s just that easy.

It automatically works when you are stuck and have no choice. However, it can work any time you want.

  • We do not need to chase happiness.
  • We can create happiness by ourselves.


Dan Gilbert in TED Talks