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The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,778 ratings  ·  409 reviews
You can change your personal capacity for happiness. Research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky's pioneering concept of the 40% solution shows you how

Drawing on her own groundbreaking research with thousands of men and women, research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has pioneered a detailed yet easy-to-follow plan to incre
...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 27th 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2007)
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Anne I did - but highly recommend taking this free class instead:
https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-sc...

It takes all of the science from this book, but m…more
I did - but highly recommend taking this free class instead:
https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-sc...

It takes all of the science from this book, but makes it very accessible.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Doc Opp
Jan 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
I got this free from a publisher who wanted me to use it in my class. I applaud the attempt to use actual science in the oversaturated self-help happiness market. Its nice to see somebody with qualifications who actually does research on the topic writing this sort of thing. And as that genre of books go, its probably well above its peers. But I do empirical psychology for a living, and so I couldn't read it without getting into "reviewer mode". And let me tell you, there are a lot of things in ...more
Anna
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As someone who has been on a bit of a quest for several years now, I can say that this book illuminated a whole new corner of the tent under which all things happiness-related are kept. Sonja is a scientist in the field of positive psychology (studying what makes people happy to begin with as opposed to unraveling problems after they have manifested themselves) with a scoff-proof academic pedigree (hello, Harvard and Stanford). For anyone who has a hard time buying into things like "The Secret" ...more
Megan
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mom & Becky
Recommended to Megan by: Oprah
Excellent book on tangible ways to increase happiness in your life. Basic theory: We have a genetic happiness set point that accounts for 50% of our happiness, 10% of our happiness comes from our life's circumstances, like where we live, what car we drive, how much money we make, etc. And the remaining 40% rests in how we choose to be happy everyday (i.e. our daily activities). The book focuses on refining that 40%. All based on empirical evidence. A must read. ...more
Lucia Gannon
I am about half-way through this book and it is beginning to annoy me a little. If you have read anything in the positive psychology vein, Seligman, Peterson or Csiksentmihalyi, this will not be new.
I know there is research behind what she is saying so I don't need to be reminded every second sentence.
I also find her very repetitive. I know it is writen for the non-expert but I really do not think there is any need to keep repeating everthing ad nauseum.
The "hows" are interesting and applicable
...more
Lisa Sipe
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: well-being
Lyubomirsky asserts that up to 40% of your happiness is within your power to change. She then makes available a number of assessment instruments that measure your happiness level and help you select from 12 happiness activities that best match your personality, resources, goals and needs. Each of the activities is presented with empirical evidence of its efficacy and suggestions for related activities that might also fit. These activities represent habits rather than goals, and as such, are some ...more
Wilmington
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: completed, self-help
I bought this book out of curiosity - not because I felt particularly unhappy, but because I wondered how I could be even happier. After reading the introduction I was hooked and expected the book to be truly interesting as it was written by an academic researcher specialised in positive psychology.

As someone with a scientific background myself, I was pleased to read in the introduction that "The How of Happiness is different from many self-help books as it represents a distillation of what rese
...more
Liz Berning
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was assigned to read this book for a psychology class and I can't say that I was mad about it. I've never really read a "self-help" book before, but if you are in that boat as well. This is an awesome place to start. I think the most important aspect of this book is that is is research based. Another aspect that I appreciated was the fact that the book was personalizeable based on tests at the beginning of the book. So, depending on the results of those test, the book can be tailored to you sp ...more
Marjorie Elwood
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, inspiration
A comprehensive, well-researched book on how to become happier. While we have a set point for happiness that is predetermined, based on our genetic makeup, there is still 40% of our happiness level that can be changed. This book makes the point that changing life situations (such as winning the lottery) give a brief boost in happiness but then you’re back to your set point, a process called “hedonic adaptation”. Given the times we live in, a book on how to increase happiness seemed like a good i ...more
Anthony
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it


What are the thing's that make a person happier? The author gather's much of the research data done on happiness and lays it out for you.

There really aren't any big surprises involved here. It's stuff like exercise, having friends, being a considerate and optimistic person. Stuff like that. She comes up with a list of 12 things that any person could do to become happier in general. This after the caveat that a great deal of one's happiness seems to actually be already set by birth, in other wor
...more
Colleen
This book purports to be a scientific approach to improving your happiness level. The author asserts that you can control about 40% of your happiness. She provides several assessment tools to measure your current happiness state and happiness activities that would best suit your personality and life style, as ways to improve your happiness. There are 12 areas of activities presented that can be employed to assist in enhancing your happiness.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book and the scie
...more
Margarida (mbooksbycandlelight)
This book has tons of great information about how to be happy and how to maintain that happiness once you achieve it. The author gives many strategies for cultivating happiness and all of them are supported by many scientific studies. It is a bit of a dense read if you don't have a lot of experience with psychology focused texts. I don't and this took me a few days to read. It just has too much information to read all in one sitting. At least it did for me. All in all, I would recommend this boo ...more
Farnaz Babaie
If you want to read this book, physical book would be much better than audio. For such books (full of lists, activities and exercises), physical book might be easier to follow. The author suggested some strategies to boost your happiness. You rank these strategies based on your background, priorities and other personal characteristics. She clearly explains (sometimes which is a lot) each strategy and elaborates on how they affect our happiness. There are some practical activities which sound ver ...more
Dee
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If we are going to achieve anything substantial in our lives, it will require a committed effort. The author points out that the same principle applies to our state of happiness - a good deal of effort is required. She calls it "the most rewarding work we'll ever do."

Ms. Lyubomirsky describes a mindstate called Self-Focused Rumination which is a term psychologists use to describe otherthinking. She writes: "The combination of rumination and a negative mood is toxic.....People who ruminate while
...more
Lucia Iordache
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is my book club’s latest selection. Want to be happier but you don’t know how to go about it? Maybe this book can help. For the sceptics out there who don’t believe in self-help books, the basis of this book is pure science. Study after study has been complied into this book to come up with helpful tools for how to become happier. Turns out that 50% of our happiness pie is already predetermined by our genetics, 10% is constituted by our social conditions (rich/poor; married/divorced; s ...more
Mohammad Ali Abedi
Aug 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
In my quest to find the mystery to life, I go through yet another self-help book, but with “How of Happiness”, I was lured in by its promise of a scientific approach to happiness.

Biggest bullshit ever.

The scientific angle is merely a ploy to make it more legitimate. The book is exactly the same as every other self-help book, with the exact same advices, and the only difference being every cliché being started with “According to studies…”. Usually, the studies are never explained or mentioned, an
...more
Patrick Peterson
6 May 2019 - I read this about 6-8 years ago. I generally liked it very much, but there were parts that bothered me, and made me wonder how much I could really trust the author.

This was the first full book that taught me about the benefits of practicing gratitude. I knew about this concept earlier and experienced the benefits myself, so was already a pretty avid advocate. But this book offered some references to research on the subject, and a pretty thorough treatment of it overall, so I found t
...more
Intplibrarian
Oct 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quitreading
I followed the Nancy Pearl rule, though not intentionally. It was near page 50 that I decided this book was, well, ridiculous. Self-reporting of happiness? No discussion of how that might in itself be relative? That and the author's declaration, as thought it would be true of all people, that cuddling one's own child is the epitome of happiness. Uhm, I'm pretty sure those parents out there that didn't want to be parents wouldn't ALL agree with that.

I do believe that one can do things to change o
...more
Alan Hamilton
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it


An interesting book which initially tries to apply some science to happiness and then describes ways of improving your happiness level. As expected, most are useful but some are tosh.
Like a lot of these types of books, there are a few real nuggets in there - it's a case of finding the bits that help you.
The book is definitely worth reading.
...more
April
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excellent advice about things you can do everyday to be happier.
Ellee
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Only made it half way through the book. While interesting, nothing stood out as a new fact or idea, all seemed to be common sense.
Patrick
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I do read a lot of self-help books, but they can feel rather cliché. It seems as if every Tony Robbins-esque offering is nothing more than just a feel-good promise that a couple hundred pages can make a profound impact on your life.

Yet, I was interested in this book for a number of reasons. The first and foremost is that I am currently healing from a breakup and wanted to double-down on the whole self-love train. I often turn to these sorts of solutions when I feel down and out. It's something
...more
High Plains Library District
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive, well-researched book on how to become happier. While we have a set point for happiness that is predetermined, based on our genetic makeup, there is still 40% of our happiness level that can be changed. This book makes the point that changing life situations (such as winning the lottery) give a brief boost in happiness but then you’re back to your set point, a process called “hedonic adaptation”. Given the times we live in, a book on how to increase happiness seemed like a good i ...more
Jen Melham
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a long read, with a lot of self-reflection and activities required to get everything out of it you want to, but I'm glad I took the time to read it.

The author breaks down 12 different "happiness activities" and has you take a self-scoring quiz to determine what your top 4 are, then invites you to focus on those top 4 first. I found this particularly interesting and helpful, and plan on implementing what I learned from this book in the coming months.

I noticed other reviews that say the rea
...more
Beth
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and have been putting some of it into practice. I plan to keep adding the habits of happiness. If you like self help and want some practical ways to add more happiness to your life I recommend this book.
Kresimir Mudrovcic
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have really enjoyed reading this book since it was both nicely written, the topic is pretty important, it is practical and almost every claim or suggestion is backed by scientific research. What else to ask from a book? One of the books that should be revisited every few years if not more often.
Katie (katieladyreads)
Nothing too groundbreaking here but I did enjoy learning the science behind happiness and different activities that can bolster happiness !
Victoria Zabuzova
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Plenty of usable information. Scientifically proved. Yet, it does feel rather like a cheesy self-help book, than a profound work as it is. Her TED talks are better
John Stepper
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oddly, I started this book four years ago, got to the first survey, and put it down. I’m glad I kept it and tried again.

The trigger to read it came from seeing it referenced multiple times in “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. The books complement each other well. The How of Happiness is a comprehensive treatment of what makes us happy and what we can do to become happier, rooted in a treasure trove of research. It’s organized into 12 intentional activities - things to do
...more
Jacqueline
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love all the suggestions. A simple, straightforward book on how to focus on what is really important.
James
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I first started my undergraduate studies in psychology nearly a decade ago, I stumbled upon the sub-field of "Positive Psychology". It was never talked about in class, never a part of the assigned readings or homework, but it showed up in the skipped chapters, footnotes, and margins like a dirty secret that couldn't quite go away.

I suppose I understand why. Most of psychology seems to be "How do we understand, and maybe even fix this broken thing(s)?" Positive psychology runs on this crazy
...more
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Happiness 3 28 Jan 19, 2014 07:38AM  

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The majority of my research career has been devoted to studying human happiness. Why is the scientific study of happiness important? In short, because most people believe that happiness is meaningful, desirable, and an important, worthy goal, because happiness is one of the most salient and significant dimensions of human experience and emotional life, because happiness yields numerous rewards for ...more

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