People want to be happy. To achieve this they must do two things. First, they must predict how they will feel in a variety of possible futures, and second, they must act to bring about the best of these and avoid the worst. Although it seems that knowing what will make us happy is easier than getting it, research in psychology and behavioral economics tells a different story. People not only have trouble predicting the future, they have trouble predicting how much they will like it when they get there. I will describe what science has to teach us about why we seem to stumble on (and not "upon") happiness.
Daniel's book, Stumbling on Happiness, won the 2007 Royal Society Prizes for Science Books General Prize.