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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,643 ratings  ·  342 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 27th 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2007)
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Martin Koo It is very worthwhile
gives you steps and options.…more
It is very worthwhile
gives you steps and options. (less)

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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
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
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.
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 ...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
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 ...more
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
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
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
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; ...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
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.
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excellent advice about things you can do everyday to be happier.
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
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
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
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
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love Dr. Lyubomirsky! This book is a great compilation of her research. I appreciate that she gives options rather than telling people what to do. She encourages you to implement what feels most natural for you.
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think the picture on the cover means pie will make them happy (it won't)
Recommended to Jon by: Costco
Everyone wants to be "happy", which has resulted in no less than, like, 50 million books on "how to be happy". Everyone has their own ideas on what makes people happy; who's to say who is "right" and who is "wrong"?

Well, Sonja Lyubomirsky, that's who. Because while other people are writing their books based on intuition, personal experience, limited observation, or just plain guessing, Lyubomirsky has approached the subject from a different angle: scientific experiments.

It turns out there is a
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You need this book. Really. Stop what you're doing and go buy this book.

Self-help books are generally garbage. Popular social science books are often only marginally better, but this one hits the nail on the head.

Lyubomirsky shares in plain English (no New Age speak or Tony Robbins pep talks) what we know about happiness, and how other people are achieving it. Then she lays out twelve simple happiness activities that scientific research has shown to be effective in improving happiness. A simple
Oct 29, 2011 added it
Notes from Kindle:

patients who have a good understanding of the thinking behind treatments are more likely to comply with them

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 helping hands to coworkers and passersby. They practice optimism when imagining their futures. They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment. They make
Feb 06, 2010 rated it liked it
The scientific approach to happiness is getting a lot of grant funding and media exposure lately, and this is the latest offering. As with most self-help books (because that's what this is, scientific or not), it could have been a fraction of the length and still gotten the point across. I began resenting the author's insistence on the "science" behind her strategies because let's face it, we've been instructed to exercise and eat right for quite some time. However, for some people, maybe seeing ...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,
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
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great good detailing academic research on what makes people happy in a lasting way. Interestingly, a lot of the research coincides with religious teaching - not just Christian, but Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.
What makes this different from just a simplified reduction of academic research in a fairly easy to ready format is that it contains exercises to become more happy. The basic premise is that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetic make-up, 10% from our circumstances
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book came to confirm all I have known all along on happiness from the Bible as well as other sources of wisdom. I was amazed by the authors ability to write in a well-researched manner and still maintain a highly charming style. I just wish she didn't call herself a "scientist" :-) It is an excellent resource and could improve in some areas by being more concise and less bigger, but she is the author and it is her book and we are grateful for her writing projects.
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I already consider myself a happy person, so I went into this book (after seeing the researcher give a presentation) assuming that it would give me a smug sense of satisfaction that I was already doing everything right. I wasn't totally wrong, but it still was a delightful and illuminating read. Having benchmarks of happiness levels is sort of strange, but also completely reassuring given how much power it turns out we have over our own happiness.
Heidi Kyhl
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a very useful book. The author has a scientific approach to therapeutical ways of changing your life. It is easy to read and has many good easy to use ways of helping you. I especially like the chapter on rumination which has helped me a lot.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a great handbook for positive thinking based on real life studies. She helps you figure out what little things you can do and narrows it down to help you find the ones you WILL do so that you can actually stick with it!
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.
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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
“[Optimism] is not about providing a recipe for self-deception. The world can be a horrible, cruel place, and at the same time it can be wonderful and abundant. These are both truths. There is not a halfway point; there is only choosing which truth to put in your personal foreground.” 10 likes
“The face of happiness may be someone who is intensely curious and enthusiastic about learning; it may be someone who is engrossed in plans for his next five years; it may be someone who can distinguish between the things that matter and the things that don’t; it may be someone who looks forward each night to reading to her child. Some happy people may appear outwardly cheerful or transparently serene, and others are simply busy. In other words, we all have the potential to be happy, each in our own way.” 4 likes
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