I was thrilled to receive a copy of Sonja Lyubomirsky's The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy but Does since it had already climbed its way to the top of my to-read list. In the book, Lyubomirsky takes a closer look at the major turning points of adult life (such as marriage, children, professional satisfaction, wealth, singlehood, divorce, financial ruin, illness) and examines how our misconceptions about the impact of these events are perhaps the greatest threats to our long-term well-being.
While walking the reader through the major life events that many of us have or will go through, Lyubomirsky argues that we've been trained to believe myths that assure us that lifelong happiness will be attained once we hit the culturally defined markers of "success." These myths, Lyubomirsky shows us, discourage us from recognizing the upside of any negative life turn (yep, there are upsides to the negative!) and prevent us from recognizing our own potential for growth.
Many of the myths Lyubomirsky writes about weren't necessarily new to me, but her insights (combined with some seriously awesome research) were enlightening. The book not only contained some interesting research, but I found Lyubomirsky's words to be very applicable to my life -- and I could easily see how almost anyone could glean insight from turning her well-written pages. While reading, I uncovered better ways to cope with loss (something I've been thinking about lately, with my little Bella being so sick). I discovered made-for-me advice about relationships. And, as Lyubomirsky intended, I finished the book knowing much more about many myths about happiness -- and, more importantly, knowing how to combat these myths on a daily basis.
What I loved most about this book is that it combines research, personal antidotes, and practical advice I'll actually use. Not only did I learn what the myths are but I learned how to combat them in real life, making this a wonderful how-to guide for anyone seeking happiness. The book was filled with so many great lessons and practical ideas that I felt as if I ended up underlining something on almost every single page. To get the most of Lyubomirsky's book, I'd highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself, but here are a few of my favorite insights that you can enjoy instantly:
"When we practice optimism, we become more confident, more motivated, and more energetically engaged with our goals, we take more proactive steps toward achieving them, and we are more committed, persistent, and task focused."
"We have a degree of control over our story because we have control over which experiences we emphasize and which we minimize, which events we selectively remember and which we forget, which circumstances are vivid in our minds and which are faint or distorted."
"If we enjoy the struggle along the way, we will derive pleasure and satisfaction by simply pursuing or working on our goal. We will ideally stretch our skills, discover novel opportunities, grow, strive, learn, and become more capable and expert."
"Happiness is not just about feeling good -- it's also about not feeling bad. Because diminishing negative experiences...brings three- to fivefold greater return on happiness than creating positive experiences."
"It turns out that the key to happiness and health (and to all their auspicious by-products) is not how intensely happy we feel, but how often we feel positive or happy."