The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

by Sonja Lyubomirsky


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143114956
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/30/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 50,749
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY is professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University. Lyubomirsky and her research have been the recipients of many honors, including the 2002 Templeton Positive Psychology Prize and a multiyear grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with her family. Her next book, The Myths of Happiness, will be published by The Penguin Press in January 2013.

Table of Contents

Foreword 1

Part 1 How to Attain Real and Lasting Happiness

1 Is It Possible to Become Happier? 13

A Program for Lasting Happiness 14

Do You Know What Makes You Happy? 16

Discovering the Real Keys to Happiness 19

The Most Rewarding "Work" You'll Ever Do 24

Why Be Happy? 24

2 How Happy Are You and Why? 27

Where Do You Fit In? 30

Happiness Myths 38

The Limits of Life Circumstances 41

The Happiness Set Point 52

The Promise of Intentional Activity 63

Conclusion 67

3 How to Find Happiness Activities That Fit Your Interests, Your Values, and Your Needs 69

Three Ways That Strategies Can Fit 70

Corniness, Again 72

Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic 73

P.S. More Options 78

Final Words 79

Part 2 Happiness Activities

Foreword to Part Two: Before You Begin 83

4 Practicing Gratitude and Positive Thinking 88

Happiness Activity No. 1 Expressing Gratitude 89

Happiness Activity No. 2 Cultivating Optimism 101

Happiness Activity No. 3 Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison 112

5 Investing in Social Connections 125

Happiness Activity No. 4 Practicing Acts of Kindness 125

Happiness Activity No. 5 Nurturing Social Relationships 138

6 Managing Stress, Hardship, and Trauma 150

Happiness Activity No. 6 Developing Strategies for Coping 151

Happiness Activity No. 7 Learning to Forgive 169

7 Living in the Present 180

Happiness Activity No. 8 Increasing Flow Experiences 181

Happiness Activity No. 9 Savoring Life's Joys 190

Final Words 204

8 Happiness Activity No. 10: Committing to Your Goals 205

Six Benefits of Committed Goal Pursuit 206

What Kinds of Goals Should You Pursue? 208

Recommendations for Committed Goal Pursuit 214

9Taking Care of Your Body and Your Soul 227

Happiness Activity No. 11 Practicing Religion and Spirituality 228

Happiness Activity No. 12 Taking Care of Your Body (Meditation) 240

Happiness Activity No. 12 Taking Care of Your Body (Physical Activity) 244

Happiness Activity No. 12 Taking Care of Your Body (Acting Like a Happy Person) 250

Part 3 Secrets to Abiding Happiness

10 The Five Hows Behind Sustainable Happiness 257

The First How: Positive Emotion 258

The Second How: Optimal Timing and Variety 266

The Third How: Social Support 270

The Fourth How: Motivation, Effort, and Commitment 273

The Fifth How: Habit 277

Conclusion 280

The Promise of Abiding Happiness: An Afterword 282

Postscript: If You Are Depressed 285

What Is Depression? 285

The Causes of Depression 289

The Most Effective Treatments for Depression 293

The Cure for Unhappiness Is Happiness 302

Surmounting Setbacks 304

Appendix Additional Happiness Activities That May Fit 305

Acknowledgments 309

Notes 313

Index 359

What People are Saying About This

Martin Seligman

"The right place to look for science-based advice on How To Become Happier."--(Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology and author of Learned Optimism)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Sonja Lyubomirsky differs from most self-help authors on at least three counts. First, she is a scholar who has herself done pioneering research on the topic. Second, she writes a delightfully elegant prose. Third, she provides practical suggestions for improving one's life that are easy to follow. All together, this makes The How of Happiness a wonderful addition to everyone's library."--(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow)

Barry Schwartz

"The How of Happiness uses cutting edge psychological research to provide a series of sound, practical recommendations to make life more satisfying. Becoming happier may take some work, but reading Sonja Lyubomirsky's book is an effortless pleasure."--(Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore Dorwin P. Cartridge Professor of Social Theory and Social Action and author of The Paradox of Choice)

From the Publisher

"Finally we have a self-help book from a reputable scientist whose advice is based on the best experimental data... The How of Happiness is smart, fun, and interesting—and unlike almost every other book on the same shelf, it also happens to be true."
-Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University professor of psychology and author of Stumbling on Happiness

"A guide to sustaining your newfound contentment." —Psychology Today

"Lyubomirsky's central point is clear: a significant portion of what is called happiness . . . is up for grabs. Taking some pages out of the positive psychology playbook, she coaches readers on how to snag it."
-The New York Review of Books

"Is lasting happiness attainable or a pipe dream? For the last eighteen years, University of California-Riverside professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has studied this question, and what she reports might even sway pessimists."
-U.S. News & World Report

"The right place to look for science-based advice on how to become happier."
-Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism

Customer Reviews

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How of Happiness 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the more readable "do-it-yourself" happiness books out there. By that, I mean that your average person can sit down and read the book, understand what it is saying, and come away with some practical advice. This is even more of gem when you consider that it was written by someone who has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology. Many times writing can come across more technical than it needs to be when a Phd. writes for the popular read. Not the case here.

The first thing I liked about this book was the fact that it was written by someone who actually makes their living by studying happiness. Serious happiness readers like myself will be glad to know that the author is not only well-published in peer-reviewed journals, but is also an associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology- the field's academic journal. What more do you want?

So we're off to a good start with this one. Instead of giving you a blow-by-blow of each chapter, I think this particular book review lends itself better to telling potential buyers some of things they can expect from it:

-you will be able to determine your current level of happiness on a scale that the author has developed and validated. The good thing about this is that you can re-check you happiness levels after doing some of the suggested activities to see if they actually boosted your happiness levels (like you wouldn't know anyway, but being a researcher myself, I like to be able to quantify things)

-you will learn what determines your happiness. The book points out three major things: circumstances, your genetic set-point, and intentional activity. Since intentional activities is the area that offers the most potential to increase your happiness, the book's strategies come from this area. This is a common theme in some of the more recent happiness book, such as "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World", simply because it makes the most sense and there has been a surge of research on intentional activities to increase one's happiness.

-you get a slew of activities to increase your happiness such as expressing gratitude, practicing acts of kindness, or increasing flow experiences (readers liking this strategy should be sure to check out the authoritative book on flow aptly titled "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience".

So I think the above represents the major "goodies" in the book, and the info that a typical reader would buy this book to get. However if its more you want, there's also plenty of that. For instance there are plenty of happiness facts cited and even a section on depression.

All-in-all, as you can tell, I really liked this book a lot. If I had to pick one thing I DIDN'T like about it though, it would be it's length. The book is well-over 300 pages and readers of my reviews know that I personally prefer short, to-the-point, practical books. But, when all is said and done, if you want some great happiness info and some practical happiness strategies, check it out. Happy trails!
whizzzy More than 1 year ago
Same old story - want to be happy? Think positively. There, I just saved you $10.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has what I appreciate in a body of scientific, psychological work: to the point information, solid, empirical research, & a great read. I highly recommend The How of Happiness to all who have any interest 'who wouldn't?'in the subject of happiness & living a life worth living.
debnance on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Here they are, the twelve hows:1.Expressing gratitude2.Cultivating optimism3.Avoiding overthinking and social comparison4.Practicing acts of kindness5.Nurturing social relationships6.Developing strategies for coping7.Forgive8.Increasing flow experiences9.Savoring life¿s joys10.Committing to your goals11. Practicing religion and spirituality12.Taking care of your bodyHappiness is my focus this year. I feel quite certain I will come back to this book and this list.
amimariscal on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I have read 3 books thus far on Positive Psychology and this one offers the best activities and ways to incorporate them into your life, hands down! I strongly recommend this book for every person on the planet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has three bedrooms and is nice quality. 345,000.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very helpful insights for understanding happiness and fulfillment.
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YourBrotherBob More than 1 year ago
I though this book was outstanding and worthwhile reading. It had a science feel and worthwhile benefit about the presented material. I would have preferred more data and anectdotes, but it reamined brief and readable. I bought both the paperback and the audiobook
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Singer Bobby McFerrin had a monster hit in 1988 entitled Don't Worry, Be Happy. The hypnotically perky, happy song hopped its way across the globe, magically lifting the spirits of listeners everywhere. The lyrics say: ¿In your life expect some trouble / When you worry you make it double / Don¿t worry, be happy / Be happy now.¿ If only happiness were that easy to achieve. Indeed, happiness requires considerable focus and effort, but psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky promises that it is eminently achievable, even for the galactically unhappy. She outlines some proven psychological stratagems and explains why they work, if you put in the effort. Just be aware of and implement specific mood-lifting techniques to improve the level of happiness in your life. Whether or not you cheer up when you hear McFerrin¿s catchy tune, getAbstract suggests giving Lyubomirsky¿s scientific happiness-inducing techniques a shot. Don¿t worry, be happy: They just might work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago