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The Myths of Happiness ~Sonja Lyubomirsky

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

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