The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky is a practical guide full of scientific evidence – the strategies outlined in the book have all been proven to make people happier. Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor working in the field of positive psychology. The How of Happiness draws on her own research, as well as that of others, to explain the current science behind happiness and how you can use this knowledge to improve your own happiness.
The book focuses on how you can find ways to be happier which fit your own personality, needs, situation, values, etc. It helps you choose the strategies which will work best for you. There is also The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, which you can use to track your progress. In short, The How of Happiness provides you with the tools to help yourself and become happier.
And it works. I have seen the proof in my own questionnaire records and everything is backed up with rigorous psychological research. Everyone can find at least a few strategies which will work for them – you can do this by filling out the Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic included in the book. There is also an appendix which suggests further activities to try if you benefitted from a particular strategy. Everything is geared towards you taking action to improve your happiness.
The strategies include expressing gratitude for the good things in your life (which we all have, even during the darkest times), cultivate optimism and committing to your goals, all of which I personally find helpful. Other strategies are nurturing social relationships, practising acts of kindness, avoiding overthinking and social comparison, taking care of your body, practising religion and spirituality, learning to forgive… You can experiment to find which tactics work best for increasing your happiness. You might choose to adopt two or three and leave it there, or you could keep adding new strategies as the old ones become habits.
The book’s style is informative without being dry or obscure. I enjoyed reading it, because Lyubomirsky presents a wealth of information without being condescending. She illustrates her points with real life examples and her tone is encouraging. Every strategy is explained and includes practical advice on fitting it into your lifestyle. Whether you want to overhaul your life or would just like to make a few tweaks in order to be happier, The How of Happiness is an excellent starting point.
About the Reads to Rewrite Your Life series
This series discusses books which have helped to change my perspective on life. Many will be self-help guides, some will be classics and others will be a little different… I aim to provide an eclectic mix to inspire everyone, regardless of whether or not you have mental health issues.
- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
- Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking – Susan Cain
- The How of Happiness – Sonja Lyubomirsky
- The Art of Non Conformity – Chris Guillebeau
- Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Undoing Depression – Richard O’Connor