Dan Gilbert
Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Are our problems a result of not living in the moment?

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We don't have everything we want, but we sure have a lot, says Dan Gilbert.

Dan Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.

Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.

Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.


Question: Are our problems a result of not living in the moment?

Dan Gilbert: I think most of the large issues of our day have to do with us living in the moment. Most of the problems that we’re creating for ourselves and for future generations are a result of us feeling perfectly happy right now. We’re a country of fat and happy people. Our malls are a wonderful place to go and consume and buy. We don’t have everything we want, but we sure have a lot. And we’re not giving a lot of thought to our future selves … how we will retire, whether we’ll be well. We’re giving even less thought to our future generations … what’s going to happen for our children and for our grandchildren. So I know it’s pretty popular to say that we should “spend every moment as though it were our last”. I think it’s a horrible prescription for life. I think we should spend every moment as though we were going to live forever.

Recorded on: 6/12/07