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Lyubomirsky (2007). The How of Happiness

Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2007). The How of Happiness. London: Sphere.

Based on years of research about happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky concludes that:

  • 60% of differences in (personally experienced) happiness are due to external and genetic circumstances
  • 40% of happiness can be explained by specific thinking and behaviour patterns.

So the good thing is: almost half or your well-being can be somehow influenced, and the other half of it just asks for acceptance. It will be useful to teach yourself to think and live in ways that make most people happy. What are these patterns in thinking and behaviour that seem to make people happier?

“Below is a sample of my observations, as well as those of other researchers, of the thinking and behaviour patters of the happiest participants in our studies.

  • They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
  • They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have.
  • They are often the first to offer a helping hand to co-workers and passers-by.
  • They practice optimism when imagining their futures.
  • They savour life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment.
  • They make physical exercise a weekly – and sometimes daily – habit.
  • They are deeply committed to life-long goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values).
  • And, last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stress, crises and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the pose and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge.”[1]


  1. [1] Lyubormisky 2007: 23.


  1. Abdul (November 4, 2012 at 7:45 am)

    This review is from: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Paperback) I tried to foollw the suggestions in this book. First of all, if you really want to use this as a how-to guide, its format is not conducive to that. The very few specific actions it recommends are buried in text that is full of anecdotes and studies that are supposed to sell you on the thought that doing these actions will make you happy. Also, according to the author the solution to all of your problems seems to be writing in journals: your Best Possible Selves journal in which you are trying to cultivate optimism by imagining what your life will be like one it is exactly the way you want it to be, your Goals and Subgoals Journal, your Trauma journal, in which you write about traumatic experiences you’ve had as a way of coping with stress, a Gratitude journal in which you are writing what you are grateful for, etc etc etc. While I can see how writing can help people become more optimistic and grateful, lighter in spirit and more focused, the author does not give specific advice on what questions to ponder while writing. I felt after reading this book (several times) that it was a less helpful, more commercialized version of a much better, more helpful and more specific book which was written several years ago, The Emotional Toolkit by Darlene Minnini (also a PhD from California, although from UCLA). The Emotional Toolkit cites the same studies that The How of Happiness cites and more, but is more focused on the reader and what he or she can do, not exclusively on selling the idea of what they should do. It gives specific suggestions, which How does not; such as listing questions to ask yourself while writing in a journal, for example, and questions to ask yourself to shift your thoughts from negative to neutral (instead of How’s simply telling you to stop the negative thoughts because negative thoughts are bad for you). So, if you really want to help yourself, I would not go for How of Happiness.

  2. Velly (November 4, 2012 at 10:53 am)

    Mooi, deze blog! Is de duivel gliejk aan de comfortzone omdat hij/zij je steeds verleidt tot zaken die je sussen en je afhouden van waar het werkelijk over gaat? Ik zie bij de duivel ook wel het onder ogen moeten zien van je angsten. Maar dat rijmt weer niet met die comfortzone. Hoe zie jij dat?Hartelijke groet,Corrine

  3. Warunee (November 6, 2012 at 10:03 am)

    Confirmed! This ABSOLUTELY WORKS Susan!I did a very similar esxcriee recalling about 20 of my best personal lifetime experiences. I went WAY back (when you’re our age, WAY back really is WAY back) to early childhood, moving through my high school and college years before advancing through the 20 s, 30 s, 40 s well, you get the idea! LOLI read through my list, getting deep into the FEELING of each one. Some things on my list were exciting; others induced levels of pure love while still others brought me to the brink of ecstasy. THEN I recorded myself, did a little fancy editing by including some powerful background music and voila I had myself a wonderful mp3 tailored specifically to me which I loaded into my iPod and use as part of my twice-daily meditation/ self care sessions.For those folks who are more visual, it’s relatively simple to put together a video (ala Mind Movies) using your own voice recording and personal pictures. Your article is correct successful people do these kinds of extra’ steps. I can tell you from my own experience that it is SO well worth it. If anyone needs help getting started making their own recordings/ videos, I would be most happy to share what I know. Most computers today already have everything you need to create your own powerful and effective mind-changing tools.All the best from Toronto,Russ

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