1-Sentence-Summary: The How of Happiness describes a scientific approach to being happier by giving you a short quiz to determine your “happiness set point,” followed by various tools and tactics to help you take control of the large chunk of happiness that’s fully within your grasp.
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The How of Happiness provides an overview of what we know about how to increase happiness through our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It covers topics such as mindfulness meditation, gratitude exercises, self-compassion practices, and more. If you’ve been looking for advice on how to apply these principles in real life—you’re in the right place.
The book will teach you how to become more mindful when interacting with others or by adopting positive habits that will lead to lasting changes. Author Sonja Lyubomirsky bases her advice in the latest scientific research, showing that while we do have a baseline level of happiness (our “happiness set point”), we control a large chunk of our happiness, up to 40% in fact!
Here are three of my favorite lessons from the book:
- Our thoughts and genes influence our happiness levels in life.
- Practicing gratitude can indeed make you happier.
- You can become happier by doing a series of activities that make people happy in general.
Do you want to learn how to become happier? There is a scientific way behind this abstract concept, and we’re going to study it in the paragraphs below. Let’s dig in!
Lesson 1: Genes play a huge role in our optimism levels, but our thoughts can make or break our happiness.
Our genetic makeup creates a baseline for happiness. Additionally, our DNA determines whether we’re more likely to be more optimistic or pessimistic, for example, and whether we’re more likely to be extroverted or introverted.
Our parents pass these traits down to us. And we can’t change it through any kind of intervention. Although our genes play a huge role in our natural dopamine levels, our thoughts are what really make us feel happy or sad.
For example, if you think you’re prone to bad luck or let life’s usual challenges bring you down—a fight with your best friend, failure to get into your dream college, and so on—you might become depressed even though there’s nothing wrong with your genes.
Thoughts and hormones affect our outlook on life. If you’re always thinking negatively, your body gets the message to release cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This leads to an overall state of anxiety, and your happiness is suppressed.
The good news is that once you understand how your brain works, you can learn how to overcome those negative experiences and create new thoughts that will make you happier instead!
Lesson 2: Certain practices can make you happier—and science proves it.
Happiness is a subjective experience that can be influenced by external factors, such as the events of your life. Researchers believe that happiness is an internal process, which means it starts with you.
Studies have shown that when we’re grateful, we tend to be happier because it reminds us of how much we have to be thankful for! But there’s a fine line between feeling grateful and overwhelmed.
It’s easy for us humans to get caught up in thinking about all the things we don’t have instead of appreciating all the things we do have (and there are many).
That’s why researchers suggest practicing gratitude regularly, but with a limit. Researchers found that the focus group who journaled once per week felt the happiest among all participants.
Why? Because the others were made to do it too often or not at all. Therefore, doing too much of one thing can strip the joy away from it. Stick to whatever feels good for you, but don’t overdo it. Practice it regularly and be consistent, otherwise, you’ll always start from zero.
You need to find a balance in your life where you still practice what you love, but not in a way that makes you bored of it. Also, make sure to practice gratitude one way or another, as it increases happiness levels (a lot)!
Lesson 3: There is a scientific way to become happier, and it includes a series of activities to pursue.
Many people think that happiness is a state of mind that can be achieved through positive thinking, but research has shown that it’s more complicated than that.
Happiness is a combination of circumstances, experiences, and even genetics, which means there are many things you can do to increase your level of happiness in your life.
There are many ways to become happier. Here are some of the most effective:
- Doing physical exercise – Studies show that regular exercise can be just as effective at relieving depression symptoms as antidepressant drugs.
- Practicing meditation – Research shows that meditation can increase activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It also decreases activity in the right amygdala, which is associated with negative thoughts and emotions.
- Engaging in religious or spiritual observance – Religious people have been shown to have better mental health than nonreligious people. They also tend to be happier overall than nonreligious people.
- Improving your relationships – Friendships can improve your happiness by making you feel more accepted by others and providing support when things aren’t going well for you.
The next time you feel down, try one of these strategies, and see if you can’t turn the day around!
The How of Happiness Review
The How of Happiness presents a scientific way to becoming happier. The book’s premise is that the key to happiness lies in understanding how we can actively change our own mindsets and behaviors, rather than simply waiting for good things to happen.
Lyubomirsky’s book presents a step-by-step method for increasing one’s level of happiness, including techniques such as gratitude journaling, savoring small pleasures and positive activities and cultivating optimism.
This book provides an excellent overview of happiness research and how it can be used to improve your life. I highly recommend this lecture.
Who would I recommend The How of Happiness summary to?
The 37-year-old person who feels burnt out and wants to regain joy in their life, the 45-year-old person who is going through a tough period and wants to find their light again, or the 67-year-old retired person who doesn’t know how to relax and feel happy after years of hard work in life.
Last Updated on December 29, 2022