I listened to the (unabridged) audiobook entitled The How of Happiness, which was read by the author, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. She is a professor of psychology at The University of California at Irving who has conducted research on happiness for close to 20 years. The material contained in the book is quite fascinating, although I found her reading of the material a little stiff. Still, the content of the book is so compelling that it overcomes this slight shortcoming. Dr. Lyubomirsky expertly reviews what research says about how people become happy and methods that we can use, which are scientifically proven, to increase our own happiness. The data on happiness indicate that around 50% of our happiness is determined by our genes, 10% by situational factors (e.g., our job, whether we are married, where we live), and a whopping 40% is under our control (or can be). This 40% under our control might sound somewhat small, but think if we could get a 40% return on our retirement portfolio – that would be off the charts!
Dr. Lyubomirsky explains that, although there are a number of methods that can increase our happiness, it is important that we find the right fit for us so that we can stick to the strategies and get them to work for us. Some of these methods include exercising, finding “flow,” meditation, savoring, and developing gratitude. Her book and website (www.thehowofhappiness.com) contain a survey to help you identify which happiness strategies are most likely to work for you. If you can learn how to maximize your control of 40% of the happiness in your life, you will experience the world in a whole new light.