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The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want Paperback – December 30, 2008


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The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want + The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does + Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143114956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143114956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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.

More About the Author

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University. 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 NIMH. Lyubomirsky's 2008 book, The How of Happiness (Penguin Press) has been translated into 19 languages, and her forthcoming book, The Myths of Happiness, will be released on January 3, 2013. Her work has been written up in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, and she has appeared in multiple TV shows, radio shows, and feature documentaries in North America, South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Lyubomirsky lives in Santa Monica, California, with her family.

Customer Reviews

A very well written, well researched and enjoyable book.
B. Cole
Unlike many happiness and self-help books, The How of Happiness is very solidly based in scientific research.
K. Wilkins
The information in this book can help everyone (who implements it) achieve a life worth living.
Sharon A. Albert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on February 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
About: Science-based ways of how to increase happiness

Review: Right off the bat, Lyubomirsky points out that we can only control 40% of our happiness (with half being genetic and 10% being environmental) but she suggest a bunch of techniques that have the backing of studies (which she cites) that have been shown to increase happiness. She notes that all techniques aren't for everyone so she encourages readers to choose the ones that fit their lifestyles. These techniques include practicing gratitude, forgiveness, goal setting, spirituality, exercise and living in the present (among other things). Ideas of of how to put these things to use are clearly spelled out. I really enjoyed this book, sources cited, great topic, well written, engaging, actually applicable to life.

Some random things I learned:

Marriage increases happiness for 2 years, then it returns to normal levels

Happiness also tends to eventually return to set point levels after both catastrophes and successes

People get happier with age

No one thing brings happiness

Overthinking (i.e. in times of anxiety, stress or insecurity) isn't good for you and just makes things worse

Helping others makes people happy

Hugging is good for happiness

The happier the person, the less he or she pays attention to what others around are doing
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357 of 393 people found the following review helpful By goatcurry on June 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
I tried to follow 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.
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165 of 186 people found the following review helpful By Beth Waddel on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a psychologist for twenty years, it has been drilled into my head that as psychologists we are both scientists and practitioners. Having been a clinician for the majority of my career as well as a book-a-holic, I have been anxiously awaiting Lyubomirsky's book. As Gilbert accomplished in Stumbling on Happiness, Lyubomirsky accomplished in this fine piece of work, a wonderful marriage of both the "science" of psychology as well as the "practical" aspects of psychology. A dream for scholars and clinicians...what a fine contribution this book is to our field.

Lyubomirsky has created a work which will be interesting, challenging, and useful to researchers, practitioners, and the general reader as well. Her book answers the questions about happiness by backing up her assertions with a fine review of the empircial literature. "Harumph", no more touchy-feely stuff for the "soft science of psychology"...Lyubomirsky has created a book that will appeal to both my neighbors as well as my colleagues. This book would be appropriate in a psychology graduate course or a local reading group....

Her tone is deliciously real and edgy, her presentation delightful and well-thought out, and her suggestions concrete, specific, realistic and engaging.

There is something for everyone in this book.

I hate goals, I rebel against goals, tell me I "should" and I certainly won't. Well, after reading this book, taking the tests, I have actually done some goal setting that I might find I can complete without gritting my teeth and gutting it out.

Thanks, Sonja, I will be thinking of you tomorrow at 6am as I head out to the gym.

Beth Waddel, PhD.
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87 of 99 people found the following review helpful By F. Bailey Norwood on January 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read almost every non-technical book written on the psychology of happiness and positive psychology. While they are all good, The How of Happiness is by far the best.

This is no generic self-help book with off-the-cuff suggestions stemming from the authors' own life or anecdotal evidence. Every single claim Dr. Lyubomirsky makes is backed by scientific evidence. Moreover, the book's content is supported by peer-reviewed journal articles. While I am an economist, and not a psychologist, I do know which journals are the most prestigious, and the bulk of this book is based on publications from the most prestigious psychological journals.

To illustrate how highly I recommend this book, consider this. I personally spent over $100 buying multiple copies of the book and giving them to several of my students, in hopes they will read it. If they do read it, they are certain to live happier lives.

I am naturally a very happy person, and can say without reservation that this book has made me happier. My friends have found it surprising that someone as happy as me would be reading a book on happiness. After hearing my profound respect for this book, they too purchased it and found it a life-changing experience.

Of the many reasons we do science, one is to improve the lot of humans, to become a happier society. We are fortunate to live in an age when science has uncovered the science of happiness, and fortunate to have Dr. Lyubomirsky to communicate this science to a non-technical audience so clearly. In my opinion, this book is the pinnacle of science.
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