The Myths of Happiness

What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does
by Sonja Lyubomirsky | 320 pages

Sonja Lyubomirsky is one of the world’s leading positive psychology researchers. Her award-winning and very well-funded research is on “the possibility of permanently increasing happiness.” <— How cool is that? This book focuses on, you guessed it, the myths of happiness—those things we *think* will make us happy (or devastated) but don’t. The book has over 700 (!) scholarly references. I always love connecting ancient wisdom and fun self-help with SOLID research so this book was a great treat. Big Ideas: hedonic adaptation, #1 way to boost optimism (kinda surprising), the ultradian dip, affluenza virus, frequency > intensity and how to set goals.


“Nearly all of us buy into what I call the myths of happiness—beliefs that certain adult achievements (marriage, kids, jobs, wealth) will make us forever happy and that certain adult failures or adversities (health problems, not having a life partner, having little money) will make us forever unhappy. This reductive understanding of happiness is culturally reinforced and continues to endure, despite overwhelming evidence that our well-being does not operate according to such black-and-white principles. …

What I hope this book will make singularly clear is that although it may appear that some of these major challenges will definitively and permanently change our lives for better or for worse, it is really our responses to them that govern their repercussions. …

The message of The Myths of Happiness is that, ultimately, we each can identify the steps to take to forge our way to a fulfilling life and help ourselves reach and exceed our happiness potentials.”

~ Sonja Lyubomirsky from The Myths of Happiness

This is the second Note on Sonja Lyubomirsky’s work we’ve created. Her first book remains one of my all-time favorites: The How of Happiness. This one is another great one.

Sonja is one of the world’s leading positive psychology researchers. Her award-winning and very well-funded research is on “the possibility of permanently increasing happiness.” <— How cool is that?

This book focuses on, you guessed it, the myths of happiness—those things we *think* will make us happy (or devastated) but don’t. And, of course, Sonja walks us through what DOES lead to sustainable happiness and flourishing.

The book combines the best empirical wisdom from positive psychology, social psychology, personality psychology and clinical psychology—with over 700 (!) scholarly references. I always love connecting ancient wisdom and fun self-help with SOLID research so this book was a great treat. (Get a copy here.)

Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Sonja Lyubomirsky

Professor who studies happiness