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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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"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."
"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.
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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.
I thought that I had found a way to make this book useful; I shredded it and used it in the cat's litter box. Unfortunately, the cat refused to use the litter box until after the book shavings were thrown out.
Absolutely buy this book if you think Sara Palin should be our next President and you feel that you are a real American; not like those commies in the rest of the country that go to school and stuff (like finish high school or go to one of those elitist university thingies).
Instead, based on the results of the studies, a more accurate (but also gross simplification) would be that 50% of people have their happiness influenced by their genetics, 10% of people's happiness is influenced by their circumstances, and for another 40% it is simply their state of mind. But if you take any one of those individuals, their happiness could be 100% genetic or 100% state of mind! Am I making sense to you? Let me give you an analogy. Let's say a study on the effect of MSG on mice found that 50% of them gained weight to be 2x fatter than before, while another 50% had no effect. If Dr. Lyubomirsky analyzed this data the same way she presents the studies in the book, she would conclude that MSG makes all mice gain 50% more weight!
Look maybe it's my fault that I can't look past this glaring error. However, please take this as a warning if you are going to read this book. For example, if the book tells you that getting married will only make you happy for 2 years, take that with a grain of salt. The reality is that you are not the average. In your case maybe getting married will not make you happy at all, or you might be the small percentage whose marriage becomes the light of your life for the rest of your life. No statistical analysis from a stranger could help you know that. Spend more time getting to know yourself instead of the average of everybody else.
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.