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The Myths of Happiness ~Sonja Lyubomirsky

I do so enjoy having TLC online book tours choose books for me to read.  These surprise arrivals on my Kindle or in my mailbox just make me so HAPPY.  Many are books that I would not choose for myself and they just startle me with new information and idea sharing.  I am so happy that I am going to review this book for you and I hope it will catch your eye also.

THE MYTHS OF HAPPINESS: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does is written by researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and this is her second text on Happiness.  The author has studied for years what assists folks in finding happiness and how to help people become happy.  In this text, she has gathered up all the excuses and derailing statements about happiness that she has encountered over her research and just broken them apart – Absolutely none of them are truth.

So these things that we tell ourselves about happiness are just often repeated statements that we assume to be the truth.    We can just as easily change our minds and thinking and proceed towards letting go of these assumptions which are probably keeping us stuck in unhappiness.  How easy is that?

I loved the story about the very famous Nobel Prize Winner who keeps getting asked about how happy the prize win was for him.   He said the “high” of happiness lasted about 3 hours tops; and then he knew he had to move forward and set new goals in order to find lasting happiness in his work and efforts.  He found that long term happiness came as he spent time with his wife and children more so than in his work.

We are always needing NEW things and NEW thinking to keep us happy and to challenge repetitive thinking.   These can be perceived as positive, neutral, or negative new.   It is why when we get the shiny new sports car and are happy, that fades and we need to purchase a giant SUV next.  Material possessions grow boring and old very quickly – they do not hold their happiness value.

The book is divided into 3 parts:  Connections, Work and Money, and Looking Back.   Although the chapter titles are broad strokes, the details of the myth and the mixing in the research expands the concepts and ideas, an individual can easily apply the idea to their own myth which needs to change.

“….key error is that we overestimate how long and how intensely a particular negative life event will throw us into despair or a positive event will throw us over the moon.”

The Myths of Happiness section on Connection is the longest because we are social – relational individuals.   I believe this means we have a lot of myths and old wives tales meshed into this zone of our mind; we need to sweep them out and come clean in order to find a happy place:

I’ll Be Happy When…..I am Married to the Right Person
I Can’t Be Happy When….My Relationship Has Fallen Apart
I’ll Be Happy When….I Have Kids
I Can’t Be Happy When….I Don’t Have a Partner.

Work and Money
I’ll Be Happy When….I Find the Right Job
I Can’t Be Happy When…I‘m Broke
I’ll Be Happy….When I am Rich

Looking Back
I Can’t Be Happy When…the Test Results Were Positive
I Can’t Be Happy When…I know I’ll Never Play Shortstop for the Yankees
I Can’t Be Happy When…the Best Years of My life Are Over

Lyubomirsky does not just debunk the myths with exquisite scientific studies and research; she models the myth breaking with stories of how people made changes in their thinking to promote their own happiness.  There are several surveys and exercises within the sections to assist in locating your own challenges.   The Myths of Happiness is about taking a clear look and knowing what is real and what one can change; often very easily.
Do you have a mythological Chapter title you wish to demythologize?  Please share and let us know and share in the comments section.


This book is for anyone who wishes to debunk the old messages and be happy.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s other book is THE HOW OF HAPPINESS

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and The Penguin Press for sharing this book with me and they are offering a giveaway to the best comment – I am hoping for some good chapter titles for the author’s next book!

If you purchase anything from Powell’s or Amazon  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also Welcome.

Related Reading:
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place and Staying There
The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty
NEW: Understanding our Need for Novelty and Change
Shiny Objects

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11 Responses to “The Myths of Happiness ~Sonja Lyubomirsky”

  1. Deb Nance Says:

    It was surprising to me that so many of these ideas about happiness that we consider truths are really myths. Our culture doesn’t help. It actively seems to promote the myths as truth, which then leads to more and more short-lived happiness followed by the resulting disappointing dip in happiness and a new search for happiness. Eek.

    For me, the single best thing I ever did was to stop watching tv. That takes me out of the cycle of ever-seeking-more-things and it frees up time I can now spend with people and with creating.

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi Deb,
    Yes, giving up TV has been quite a boon for me also – more time to read and imagine characters and figure out how economics works; finding meaning and depth in the days unfolding.

    In my counseling career a huge myth revealed itself. People want to figure out how to do life and then keep doing it the same way over and over hoping they will not have to change or feel their emotions. I see this so much in the teens and then in their parents who want to feel that “happy” or “high” or “young” as their kids – so many moms dressing like their children and wanting fancy vacations instead of going to the movies….I started thinking of it as imitational behavior. The myth is that on is not really living unless they are analyzing and changing, including feeling all those emotions.

    I surely do appreciate you dropping by…this is not a normal post day for me…so I am trying to figure out how long to run this book review – would like more folks to discover this book

  2. Talon Says:

    Patricia, it amazes me how many conditions we tend to put upon “happiness”…and, like most things, it’s so fleeting and unpredictable and oft times something huge and others something minuscule. The older I get, the more I know that happiness should be treated like a very good friend – invited in, feted, enjoyed and shared.
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    Patricia Reply:

    What an absolutely surprising delight to find you here – Wow
    Happy New Year to you..

    Yes happiness needs to be a good friend – Your words make me happy Thank you

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia –

    “…she models the myth breaking with stories of how people made changes in their thinking to promote their own happiness.”

    Don’t you just love it when authors include real-life examples? For me it lends credibility, authenticity, and serves as a magnet to draw me in and keep me engaged.

    Patricia Reply:

    I think examples are profoundly helpful as people can not wrap their thinking around some many new ideas – and then related them to their own circumstances.

    A classic academic writer with a heart!

  4. suZen Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    Sounds like another excellent read! The search for happiness externally is such an illusion/delusion but as one comment said, our culture conditions us with this want-it gotta-have-new-better-best marketing that keeps hammering away at us.

    I used to get a real high from shopping, for instance. Boy that one is sure short lived! I live in a city where old prom queens come to roost and the plastic atmosphere is overwhelming! Is it any wonder I feel more at home and at peace now at the lake house? It’s remote enough to be away from that gotta-have-it mentality. We already HAVE everything we need. I think staying in the present moment (truly there) eliminates any “quest” for happiness. It’s all right here in the moment! :)
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    Patricia Reply:

    Growing up with parents who lived through the Depression and then were school teachers – I truly never got into a shopping high – but often now I think I deprive myself too much – then at the bare bones of it I want a bunch of edible treats…No a hot bath will not due….and that is extremely short lived pleasure.

    I believe I am on the other side of the coin – happiness is not allowed
    Thanks for finding this post on a non- usual post day :)

  5. therapydoc Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    What a nice synopsis. It’s great to be included in the book tour with you. We’ll hopefully work together again soon,

    Patricia Reply:

    Would be wonderful to share another book tour with you…and thank you for your kind words.

  6. Heather J. @ TLC Says:

    I’m so glad you are enjoying the books that you’ve read for our tours!

    Thanks for always providing such wonderfully thoughtful reviews!