Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research-based lessons in how to find opportunity in life’s thorniest moments
In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky isolates the major turning points of adult life, looking to both successes (marriage, children, wealth) and challenges (divorce, financial ruin, illness) to reveal that our misconceptions about the impact of such events is perhaps the greatest threat to our long-term well-being.
Lyubomirsky argues that we have been given false promisesmyths that assure us that lifelong happiness will be attained once we hit the culturally confirmed markers of adult success. This restricted view of happiness works to discourage us from recognizing the upside of any negative life turn and blocks us from recognizing our own growth potential. Our outsized expectations transform natural rites of passage into emotional land mines and steer us to make toxic decisions, as The Myths of Happiness reveals.
Because we expect the best (or the worst) from life’s turning points, we shortsightedly place too much weight on our initial emotional responses. The Myths of Happiness empowers readers to look beyond their first response, sharing scientific evidence that often it is our mindsetnot our circumstancesthat matters. Central to these findings is the notion of hedonic adaptation, the fact that people are far more adaptable than they think. Even after a major life changegood or badwe tend to return to our initial happiness level, forgetting what once made us elated or why we felt that life was so unbearable. The Myths of Happiness offers the perspective we need to make wiser choices, sharing how to slow the effects of this adaptation after a positive turn and find the way forward in a time of darkness.
In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky turns an empirical eye to the biggest, messiest moments, providing readers with the clear-eyed vision they need to build the healthiest, most satisfying life. A corrective course on happiness and a call to regard life’s twists and turns with a more open mind, The Myths of Happiness shares practical lessons with life-changing potential.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her research—on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness— has been honored with a Science of Generosity grant, a John Templeton Foundation grant, a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, and a million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Lyubomirsky’s 2008 book, The How of Happiness, has been translated into nineteen languages. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with her family.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Myths of Happiness 1
Part I Connections
Chapter 1 I'll Be Happy When ... I'm Married to the Right Person 17
Chapter 2 I Can't Be Happy When ... My Relationship Has Fallen Apart 50
Chapter 3 I'll Be Happy When ... I Have Kids 83
Chapter 4 I Can't Be Happy When ... I Don't Have a Partner 101
Part II Work and Money
Chapter 5 I'll Be Happy When ... I Find the Right Job 115
Chapter 6 I Can't Be Happy When ... I'm Broke 144
Chapter 7 I'll Be Happy When ... I'm Rich 163
Part III Looking Back
Chapter 8 I Can't Be Happy When ... the Test Results Were Positive 185
Chapter 9 I Can't Be Happy When ... I Know I'll Never Play Shortstop for the Yankees 211
Chapter 10 I Can't Be Happy When ... the Best Years of My Life Are Over 233
Conclusion: Where Happiness Is Really Found 248
About the Author 305
What People are Saying About This
"In this thought-provoking volume, Lyubomirsky... examines happiness and conventional notions about how it's nurtured in relationships, at work, and in one's own psyche...Lyubomirsky demonstrates that positively reframing life events can mine the best out of even the darkest situations. Provocative and fresh."
"Informative and engaging….The author examines how the 'shoulds' of happiness not only undermine well-being, but also make it hard for individuals to cope with the sometimes difficult realities of adulthood."
"No matter what your personal world is like, The Myths of Happiness will change the way you approach your daily life. Lyubomirsky's thorough research and practical solutions will not only add joy and contentment to your life, but will also allow you to take on issues that you may have been sweeping under the rug for too long."
"In her new book, The Myths of Happiness, Dr. Lyubomirsky describes a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive."
—Jane Brody, New York Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm about to have my first book published. The idea of seeing boxes of books on my front doorstep feels both surreal and monumental. It's a huge accomplishment that I will celebrate with a party, in a red barn, with twinkly lights. There will be music, friends, food, and revelry. But I know that a published book won't bring me happiness. A few days ago I was talking to a friend who has authored over 40 books. I told her I knew that having a published book would not make me happy. She seemed surprised and wanted to know how I knew that ahead of time. I told her I thought it was because I had done so much research on the topic of happiness. I understand what poor judges people are at knowing what will bring them happiness and what won't. People have a happiness set point. Fifty percent of happiness is genetic, ten percent is based on life circumstances, and forty percent is within our power to effect. For instance, Americans will put themselves in debt for decades thinking a dream home, boat, or car will make them happy. But the new wears off within a few days because of an effect called hedonic adaptation. Most people don't understand that the lotto winer and the paralyzed person will bounce back to their prior happiness level within a few months of their changed life condition. The joy is in the journey. I'll never forget what my friend Zeke Pipher said when his book released. In essence, "Whether this book sells or not, it won't define my worth, happiness, or success." He went on to describe his faith and his relationship with his wife and children, saying those were the reasons for his joy. Zeke should know. His mom wrote an international best-seller: she soon found that the harried pace of traveling and speaking made her miserable. There's an interesting research study that found when people were randomly beeped, and told to write down what they were doing and how happy they were, folks were happiest while in the creative state of "flow." Flow is when you are fully absorbed in an activity, so much so that you lose sense of time. Numerous studies have shown that it is the striving, not the achieving, that makes us happy, especially when our goals are realistic, flexible, valued by the culture, authentic, non-materialistic, and not negatively impacting other parts of our lives. The more we attain, the more we want, and this negates our increased happiness. Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky in her newly released book, The Myths of Happiness, explains that aspirations are misleading. We attain more, so we want more, and the wanting makes us feel bad. Crazy huh? She concludes that we shouldn't expect less but that we should simply not allow our desires to continue escalating to the point where we end up feeling entitled and convinced that we would only be happy if we got more and more of this or that. Relying on external rather than internal validation makes us unhappy. Some people think they will be happy based on other people's opinion of their success. But, when we ask ourselves the question, "How good (successful, smart, affable, prosperous, ethical) am I?" the people who rely on an internal rather than external objective standard are happier. There will always be someone wealthier, more attractive, thinner, more popular, and more talented, therefore, relying on other people's opinions rather than our own is a recipe for misery. In short, goals which cause growth, make us feel competent, and connect us to others, are the ones that make us happy. Goals which make us strive to be rich, famous, popular, or powerful, make us unhappy.