79 von 86 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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"While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize - sometimes with astonishment - how happy we had been."
¯ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
Happiness, that eternal yet elusive goal of man, is indeed full of paradoxes as many writers have eloquently noted. In an increasingly crowded field of books on happiness and positive psychology where it is getting more and more difficult to say something original and meaningful, I feel the author has made a very worthwhile contribution. She considers some of the universal assumptions about happiness and explores, analyzes, and reframes them to show us how very naive, thoughtless, and just plain wrong is our thinking about what "makes us" happy.
These assumptions - the "Myths of Happiness" as her title defines them - include cliches almost all of us never pause to doubt, ideas such as the idea that we can't be happy without a wonderful marriage, we can't be happy unless we have children, we can't be happy because we don't have enough money, we can't be happy because we're not as young as we used to be, we can't be happy if we have health problems, and a few other common beliefs. It turns out that people find a way to be happy in spite of unwanted life circumstances, and many people who are blessed by wealth and good fortune aren't any happier that those who lack these fortunes.
The unifying theme in dealing with all of these happiness myths seems to be what psychologists call "cognitive flexibility" or "cognitive reframing", that is, some mental flexibility, creativity, perseverance, and originality that allows people to discover all kinds of alternative paths to a rich, enjoyable, successful, and meaningful life even if we find ourselves without wealth, youth, perfect health, or a passionate romantic partner. Bottom line: Lyubomirsky convinced me that, even if we don't get what we want in life, we can still achieve that elusive state of living variously known as contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, or happiness.
The author's writing style is fast-paced, wryly funny, and unpretentious. And, her knowledge of the field is encyclopedic, with over 400 references to studies in human happiness, enjoyably explained, to support her deconstruction of the myths of happiness.
I think the measure of a good psychology book is one that really makes you think about your own life differently, and this one gave me several such moments. Nearly 30 years ago as a medical student I had to cancel a planned "externship" at the prestigious Yale University Hospital on very short notice in order to be available to support my then girlfriend through a family loss. Having invested years of sweat and toil in my career and revering the Ivy League as the pinnacle of success, I went into a state of mini-despair as I reluctantly signed up for a mundane, "regular" assignment closer to home. I imagined my entire future success as a medical doctor had just taken a permanent turn for the worse. As it turned out, I was teamed up with an awesome team of residents and attending physicians, learned so much that I still use the knowledge acquired in that un-glamorous assignment in the management of patients, and years later was, nonetheless, still offered a prestigious fellowship at Yale. What's more, I turned it down, having by then a much better idea of the kinds of things that actually would make me happy. This memory is a pefect example of the author's main idea, expressed in the book's subtitle: "what should make you happy but doesn't, what shouldn't make you happy but does." Ultimately, I think nothing extrinsic "makes us" happy, but rather that we must decide internally to experience life as an interesting, challenging, exciting adventure, and with that inner resolve, we will find opportunities to experience a range of emotions and experiences ultimately amounting to a meaningful and happy life.
81 von 94 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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I was excited to start reading this book, but that quickly changed.
I was expecting newest research with potentially life-changing implications, but while the book contained references to many studies, the conclusions and research findings were not really new to me(I keep updated with Psychology Today and other sources)
Her writing style was good, but became very repetitive. The chapters' introductions are lengthy and add no real value. In addition, the chapters' summaries (called "The prepared mind") have turned out to be a huge third repeat of the same ideas, worth nothing, only more 'fluff' (to make the book longer?)
Some of her practical solutions were completely absurd, in my opinion. Example: How to appreciate your current job more: If you previosuly worked night shift, you should stay up some nights to try to remember how that feels. Lol. She offers more "practical" solutions of this kind in the book. Frustrated with parenting? When you're old you'll have fond memories, so just think of 50 years from now, how great life will be then. Hahaha! Diagnosed with terminal cancer? Just think of yourself as a three legged table, which is actually stronger than a four legged one. I know, I am simplyfying, but the ideas, examples and anecdotes she uses are NOT life-altering, they are interesting, at best, and more often than not, just silly.
To be honest, I felt like in order for any of us to be happy, we have to constantly keep "brainwashing" ourselves back into the past. Look at old pictures of your vacations, you'll feel happier. Remember that horrible boss you once had, but now you're free of him, so be happy. Her suggestions felt 'plastic', inorganic, fake, inauthentic, forced or some type of "let's pretend" game. Sometimes I felt that my intelligence was insulted.
However, not everything in this book was bad. It was truly a mix of some good and some awful ideas. Every reader should keep in mind that she tends to inject some of her own life philosophy into her conculsions.
The section worth reading is the one on marriage and long term relationships. I feel like most people are not aware of how over time our relationships change and we get bored. I liked the reminder that we have to constantly work on our relationships, and here her suggestions, although not original by any stretch, were useful and adequate.
Also worth your attention - the suggestions on NOT comparing yourself to others. I felt that she could have incorporated the role of social media here, such as Facebook, which leads to constant comparing yourself to others. The author could have included lots of practical examples here, but fell short.
Overall, a poor C+. Aside from a few little things here and there, I did not learn much.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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Reading Sonja's first book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want made me very happy. [☺] And, her current gem of _The Myths of Happiness_ made me very, very happy. [☺ ☺]
Beautifully weaving together scores of scientific research (we're talking over 700 journal articles!) into blissfully readable prose, Sonja dispels the myths related to what does--and doesn't--make us happy. As she describes:
"The goal of _The Myths of Happiness_ is to draw on the latest scientific research to expand readers' perspectives about the crisis points they are confronting, dismantle the false beliefs about happiness driving their initial reactions, and introduce the tools that they can use to draw their own verdicts and develop new skills and habits of mind. Fortified with counterintuitive wisdom and instructive distance from their problems, their next crisis point will be met with a prepared mind." (pp. 12-13)
She goes through ten common happiness myths one-by-one--first dispelling them, and then offering ways to power through them with a prepared mind. Key strategies used to fight all of these myths include: slowing adaptation, coping with adversity, pursuing new goals, and striving to glow and flourish. You'll have to read the full book in all its glory to get the maximum effect, but here's a quick synopsis of the wisdom she offers for dispelling these ten myths:
Part I Connections
Myth: I'll be happy when...I'm married to the right person.
Reality: Marital grievances, qualms, and discontents are natural and commonplace, and are often attributable to hedonistic adaptation.
Rx: Work to get past your first thought that if your marriage doesn't fulfill all you needs for intimacy, passion, and companionship, then you (or your partner) have failed; begin to practice adaption-thwarting and relationship-building strategies to help inject excitement, novelty, variety, and/or surprise into your marriage. (pp. 48-49)
Myth: I can't be happy when...My relationship has fallen apart.
Reality: Your life won't end when your relationship does.
Rx: Realize you have more choices than you think (i.e., leave, make the best of it, stay and resolve to improve your relationship), and consider how much of your marital unhappiness is due to you, how much of it is due to your spouse, how much of it is due to dynamics within your marriage, and how much of it is due to circumstances beyond your control. (pp. 81-82)
Myth: I'll be happy when...I have kids.
Reality: You can love your children, *and* not love many aspects of parenting.
Rx: Considering a big-picture view of parenting, reflecting on which situations impact your happiness the most, maintaining your balance through journaling, and taking time off from parenting will fortify you with the resolve to weather the low points of child rearing and empower you to revel in the high points. (p. 100)
Myth: I can't be happy when...I don't have a partner.
Reality: Married people are no happier than single ones, and singles have been found to enjoy great happiness and meaning in other relationships and pursuits.
Rx: Strive to flourish as an individual and stay open to the possibility for connection. If you don't like your single life, change it. If you can't or won't change your life, change the way you think about it.
Part II: Work and Money
Myth: I'll be happy when...I find the right job.
Reality: No matter how perfect a job may initially seem, everyone becomes habituated to the novelty, excitement, and challenges of a new job or venture.
Rx: If we want success--recognition, authority, rewards--because we think our happiness depends on it, we are limiting our happiness now and jeopardizing the future. Distracting ourselves from toxic comparisons, concentrating on our own internal standards, and focusing on the journey in pursuit of our dreams, rather than on the end result, will redirect our attention and energies from the "I'll be happy when___" mentality and toward more fruitful horizons. (pp. 141-143)
Myth: I can't be happy when...I'm broke.
Reality: Although income and happiness are indeed significantly correlated, the relationship is not as strong as commonly assumed.
Rx: Extract the greatest amount of happiness from the smallest things. Instead of brooding about our misfortune, we can focus on the ways that we can be happy with less and spend our money right. (p.162)
Myth: I'll be happy when...I'm rich.
Reality: Many prosperous individuals are not truly happy, and often feel as if life has become dull and even empty.
Rx: Don't be a slave to the hedonistic treadmill and suffer the downside of good fortune. The key to happiness is not in how successful we are, but what we do with it; it's not how high our income is, but how we allocate it. (p. 181)
Part III: Looking Back
Myth: I can't be happy when...The test results were positive.
Reality: Although our immediate reactions to a dreaded diagnosis will often involve painful thoughts and feelings, the mobilize-and-minimize theory suggests theses negative initial reactions will be short-lived, and the healthy, long-term responses will unfold over time.
Rx: Once we stop accepting that our situation is the end of happiness, we will be prepared to take action--to embrace, adjust to, or make the best of each and every day. Focus your energies into life-enhancing endeavors such as building and/or reinforcing your social support network, honing your powers of attention by learning to meditate or simply to be more mindful, setting time each day to enjoy the outdoors, and resolving to take at least one step each week in the direction that helps you attain purpose in your life and secures your legacy. (pp. 209-210)
Myth: I can't be happy when...I know I'll never play shortstop for the Yankees.
Reality: Happiness and regret can co-exist.
Rx: Instead of choosing to ruminate mechanically, we can choose to shift our perspectives about the harm or danger of regrets. Instead of letting our regrets and might-have-beens poison our happiness, we can choose to examine them in ways that will help us to grow into more complex, wiser, and ultimately happier individuals. Psychological theory and research reveal that the healthiest responses to those moments when we are walloped by a what-if, rue a failure to act, or find ourselves paralyzed by choices is to reflect on what the what-ifs or counterfactuals can teach us about our life course and where it's brought us (e.g., a past trauma that ultimately engenders a sense of good fortune that lends richness and meaning to our life), rather than allow them to immobilize us; take tiny (or not so tiny) risks to prevent regret over inactions (e.g., respond to our failure to act yesterday by speaking up forcefully today); and aim for options that are "good enough" rather than perfect. (pp. 231-232)
Myth: I can't be happy when...The best years of my life are over.
Reality: The older we are, the happier and emotionally wiser we are, and the second half of life can be an exciting time of challenge, joy, and growth.
Rx: When confronting the crossroads of middle age and beyond, realize you have a choice between decline and flourishing. Realize that choosing to remain stuck in idealization of the past deflates and jeopardizes future goals, and instead try to shift your mind's eye to the future. Instead of listening to your first thought, listen to the second one: "Sure, I've had joys, passions, and triumphs in the past, but, in the future, so much more awaits." Or perhaps the third one, which might mean accepting a loss in one domain, but transitioning to another: "It's true my childbearing years (or running years or college years) are over, but a new chapter has begun." (pp. 246-247)
From the first word to the last, this book is amazingly powerful and inspirational. I just can't seem to say enough about it, so I'll conclude with Sonja's own concluding insights:
"We must stop waiting for happiness, and we must stop being terrified of the potential for unhappiness...When your attention is narrowly focused on something disagreeable or distressing, it may help to consider the bigger picture. When you are overwhelmed and obsessing with particular images and thoughts, you should strive to redirect your attention to something else. Finally, it would serve you well to look on the bright side of negative situations, but to be creative about how you do it; to inject variety and novelty in your life; and to pursue intrinsic, authentic, and flexible goals and make them your own...In short, after you recognize the extent to which your beliefs about what will make you eternally happy and unhappy have been driving your reactions to life's challenges and transitions, you will be prepared to decide how to behave in ways that promote happiness, flourishing, and growth--to think instead of blink, relying on reasoning rather than instinct. Exploding the myths of happiness means that there's no magic formula for happiness and no sure course toward misery--that nothing in life is as joy producing or as misery inducing as we think it is. Appreciating this truth can not only liberate us, empower us, and broaden our horizons, but it can grant us our best opportunity to choose well, to get it right." (pp. 250-251)
And, getting it right starts with diving into this book to dispel those happiness myths. Truth be told, you might just find yourself very, very happy too. [☺ ☺]