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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness: so simple, yet so complicated ...
"While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize - sometimes with astonishment - how happy we had been."
¯ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

Happiness, that eternal yet elusive goal of man, is indeed full of paradoxes as many writers have eloquently...
Published 18 months ago by GirlScoutDad

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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt, but book fell short
I was excited to start reading this book, but that quickly changed.

I was expecting newest research with potentially life-changing implications, but while the book contained references to many studies, the conclusions and research findings were not really new to me(I keep updated with Psychology Today and other sources)

Her writing style was good,...
Published 17 months ago by Book_lover


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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness: so simple, yet so complicated ..., February 3, 2013
By 
GirlScoutDad (Oakton, Virginia) - See all my reviews
"While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize - sometimes with astonishment - how happy we had been."
¯ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

Happiness, that eternal yet elusive goal of man, is indeed full of paradoxes as many writers have eloquently noted. In an increasingly crowded field of books on happiness and positive psychology where it is getting more and more difficult to say something original and meaningful, I feel the author has made a very worthwhile contribution. She considers some of the universal assumptions about happiness and explores, analyzes, and reframes them to show us how very naive, thoughtless, and just plain wrong is our thinking about what "makes us" happy.

These assumptions - the "Myths of Happiness" as her title defines them - include cliches almost all of us never pause to doubt, ideas such as the idea that we can't be happy without a wonderful marriage, we can't be happy unless we have children, we can't be happy because we don't have enough money, we can't be happy because we're not as young as we used to be, we can't be happy if we have health problems, and a few other common beliefs. It turns out that people find a way to be happy in spite of unwanted life circumstances, and many people who are blessed by wealth and good fortune aren't any happier that those who lack these fortunes.

The unifying theme in dealing with all of these happiness myths seems to be what psychologists call "cognitive flexibility" or "cognitive reframing", that is, some mental flexibility, creativity, perseverance, and originality that allows people to discover all kinds of alternative paths to a rich, enjoyable, successful, and meaningful life even if we find ourselves without wealth, youth, perfect health, or a passionate romantic partner. Bottom line: Lyubomirsky convinced me that, even if we don't get what we want in life, we can still achieve that elusive state of living variously known as contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, or happiness.

The author's writing style is fast-paced, wryly funny, and unpretentious. And, her knowledge of the field is encyclopedic, with over 400 references to studies in human happiness, enjoyably explained, to support her deconstruction of the myths of happiness.

I think the measure of a good psychology book is one that really makes you think about your own life differently, and this one gave me several such moments. Nearly 30 years ago as a medical student I had to cancel a planned "externship" at the prestigious Yale University Hospital on very short notice in order to be available to support my then girlfriend through a family loss. Having invested years of sweat and toil in my career and revering the Ivy League as the pinnacle of success, I went into a state of mini-despair as I reluctantly signed up for a mundane, "regular" assignment closer to home. I imagined my entire future success as a medical doctor had just taken a permanent turn for the worse. As it turned out, I was teamed up with an awesome team of residents and attending physicians, learned so much that I still use the knowledge acquired in that un-glamorous assignment in the management of patients, and years later was, nonetheless, still offered a prestigious fellowship at Yale. What's more, I turned it down, having by then a much better idea of the kinds of things that actually would make me happy. This memory is a pefect example of the author's main idea, expressed in the book's subtitle: "what should make you happy but doesn't, what shouldn't make you happy but does." Ultimately, I think nothing extrinsic "makes us" happy, but rather that we must decide internally to experience life as an interesting, challenging, exciting adventure, and with that inner resolve, we will find opportunities to experience a range of emotions and experiences ultimately amounting to a meaningful and happy life.
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt, but book fell short, March 8, 2013
I was excited to start reading this book, but that quickly changed.

I was expecting newest research with potentially life-changing implications, but while the book contained references to many studies, the conclusions and research findings were not really new to me(I keep updated with Psychology Today and other sources)

Her writing style was good, but became very repetitive. The chapters' introductions are lengthy and add no real value. In addition, the chapters' summaries (called "The prepared mind") have turned out to be a huge third repeat of the same ideas, worth nothing, only more 'fluff' (to make the book longer?)

Some of her practical solutions were completely absurd, in my opinion. Example: How to appreciate your current job more: If you previosuly worked night shift, you should stay up some nights to try to remember how that feels. Lol. She offers more "practical" solutions of this kind in the book. Frustrated with parenting? When you're old you'll have fond memories, so just think of 50 years from now, how great life will be then. Hahaha! Diagnosed with terminal cancer? Just think of yourself as a three legged table, which is actually stronger than a four legged one. I know, I am simplyfying, but the ideas, examples and anecdotes she uses are NOT life-altering, they are interesting, at best, and more often than not, just silly.

To be honest, I felt like in order for any of us to be happy, we have to constantly keep "brainwashing" ourselves back into the past. Look at old pictures of your vacations, you'll feel happier. Remember that horrible boss you once had, but now you're free of him, so be happy. Her suggestions felt 'plastic', inorganic, fake, inauthentic, forced or some type of "let's pretend" game. Sometimes I felt that my intelligence was insulted.

However, not everything in this book was bad. It was truly a mix of some good and some awful ideas. Every reader should keep in mind that she tends to inject some of her own life philosophy into her conculsions.

The section worth reading is the one on marriage and long term relationships. I feel like most people are not aware of how over time our relationships change and we get bored. I liked the reminder that we have to constantly work on our relationships, and here her suggestions, although not original by any stretch, were useful and adequate.

Also worth your attention - the suggestions on NOT comparing yourself to others. I felt that she could have incorporated the role of social media here, such as Facebook, which leads to constant comparing yourself to others. The author could have included lots of practical examples here, but fell short.

Overall, a poor C+. Aside from a few little things here and there, I did not learn much.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but missing more examples, April 1, 2013
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This review is from: The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. The organization and writing was well executed. The only part missing for me would have been more case examples. Whether it is to peer into the lives of others for comparative or voyueristic reasons, we learn from others mistakes. I wish there had been more stories of people realizing their lack of happiness and how they changed their perception of happiness.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars acute insights + lots of common sense, February 11, 2013
Large portions of common sense combined with several acute insights based on wide-ranging research helps the reader gain inner satisfaction and increased optimism in this second book by the author. Ms. Lyubomirsky first work, "The How of Happiness" was a useful addition to the literature of happiness and optimism created by such innovators as Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. "Myths" is a major advance in its gravitas and specificity.

Few writers have tackled such subjects as loving children but not motherhood, the reasons that single people will be happier if they focus on becoming "your best possible single self" and how to spend money on need-satisfying goals. There are also some fine tips such as creating an autobiographical coherence, writing experiences as a means of relief and realizing that the results of life events are not knowable; what we think of as a calamity might well not be and vice-versa. All in all this is a practical guide which will achieve its goal in a large percentage of its readers.

The author, a Professor of Psychology at UCRiverside fully achieves her purpose. This is a step up in self-help books.

Stanley Goldstein
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happiness Myths Revealed, March 6, 2013
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Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky reveals how certain happiness myths in our culture can keep us from getting more out of life. She also explains how to counteract these myths. Each myth is covered in the general context of "I'll be happy when ___", such as "I'll be happy when I meet the right person". For each topic she proceeds to explain why this is wrong, backing up her claims with studies, surveys, etc, sometimes using experiments of her own. For example, single people can be very happy, so long as they create a strong social network and have meaningful pursuits. People who are in strained marriages have two options: first, the data and studies show that someone can improve their marriage by doing certain things like engaging in new activities, for example. Each chapter, including ones on aging, health, money and work, for example, is filled with this type of practical advice, which makes the book eminently useful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happiness is so elusive for some, July 21, 2013
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This review is from: The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does (Kindle Edition)
I've been with a very "complicated" person for over 20 years. For 99.9% of that time, he's struggled with happiness. It's extremely elusive to him. While I am, on the other hand, for the most part a happy person. He has disparaged me and others like me for being "in the moment" (read: superficial?) And yet, I experience happiness so much more often that he does. He focuses on the future - must make money, save money, be careful, be vigilant! And during the journey, he never takes the time to stop and look at the wonder of life today in this very moment. Well, it seems like the research on happiness is proving that happy people DO think and live life differently. And the keys seem to be the ability to live in the moment and the ability to be grateful for the good things we have in life. Yes, even the ability to see the good things in our lives is elusive to some. I felt a little vindicated. However, I am also grateful to have in my life someone who plans out for the future! How's that for living the message of this book? This book is extremely informative with research backing up all the messages. You will walk away questioning a lot of your former strongly held beliefs about happiness and have some tools to help you gain more moments in your life that you hold precious.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does (Kindle Edition)
I wish I had discovered this book 30 years ago when I graduated from college and started 'chasing' happiness... in all the wrong ways.

This is a simple to read book that is filled with practical ideas about how to improve your happiness in nearly all aspects of your life. As the father of two young sons, I'm looking forward to sharing these strategies with them to help them make smart choices that make them happy.

I highly recommend reading this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm happy I read this book!!, October 12, 2013
By 
XXXXX

(1) I'll be happy when...I'm rich.
(2) I can't be happy when...the best years of my life are over.

The above are two myths of happiness found in this well-written and inspiring book by Sonja Lyubomirsky. She is a professor of psychology at the University of California (Riverside). Lyubomirsky has won many grants for her research on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness.

Besides the two myths mentioned above, Lyubomirsky examines eight more myths (or "false promises") that occur at major turning points of adult life.

The myths examined are supposed to assure us that lifelong happiness will be obtained once we hit the culturally confirmed markers of adult success.

What I appreciated was the psychological research present in this book. Lyubomirsky appears to have drawn on the best psychological research (including more than seven hundred scholarly references).

Finally, this book offers the perspective we need to make wise choices, instructing us on how to slow down the effects of getting used to a positive event and how to find the way forward in a time of negativity.

In conclusion, this book effectively examines some key myths of happiness. This is a good book---and that's no myth!!

(first published 2013; introduction; 3 parts or 10 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 250 pages; acknowledgements; notes; index; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

XXXXX
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Day Research Philosopher, January 21, 2013
By 
Robert S. Pothier (Menomonee Falls, WI) - See all my reviews
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Sonja Lyubomirsky's latest book hit the trifecta of reasons to read and follow her counsel as to how we can be happier - (1) she's an expert who's research is sound in the area; (2) she provides a comprehensive perspective that's applicable to everyone; and (3) it's well written and pragmatic in it's approach.

Lyubomirsky's book is the voice of wisdom and wise counsel. It's a true "how to" book on happiness and takes the approach that we have a chance at greater happiness if we'll just better prepare our minds by debunking myths that keep us from being as happy as we can be. By training our minds to follow sound thinking when it comes to happiness, we increase the chances we'll actually be happier. No silver bullet. But practical advice from someone who's researched it and lived it.

I expect we'll see more of Lyubomirsky through the years as she is prolific in her research and writing. And that consistent hard work is amplifying her voice as one of our generation's true research-based philosophers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REAL Happiness in a Nutshell, March 23, 2013
"The Myths of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky is a treasure trove of practical tips for building a life of happiness and meaning. While it is readable, engaging, funny, personal, and filled with useful examples, the real beauty of this book is that it is based on solid research and not armchair musings as is so often the case in the self-help genre. In fact, Dr. Lyubomirsky has conducted much of the groundbreaking research herself (I know because I am a psychology professor myself.). This is a huge advantage over a journalist interpreting other people's findings for the reader. What are the myths and non-myths aka USEFUL APPROACHES for dealing with work, marriage, divorce, singlehood, and many more life circumstances? Dr. Lyubomirsky has the REAL answers based on painstaking research. She has the knack for making psychology come alive for readers in a fun and useful way.
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