51jZQYoFhfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The How Of Happiness
By Sonja Lyubomirsky – Part 1

My notes:

My notes focus on actionable activities. I have a lot of notes so I will share them in 2 posts.


Cultivating Optimism

1. Best Possible Selves Diary

  • Sit somewhere quiet and think about what you expect your life to be in 1, 5 & 10 years time. Visualise as if everything has worked out the way you wanted to. You achieved goals, worked hard, etc.
  • Write down what you imagine
  • Use an optimism journal

2. Goals Diary

  • Refer back to your best possible selves diary
  • Choose a visualisation you have from the diary
  • In your next diary entry write the steps you take to achieve your goal

3. Identify Barrier Thought

  • Identify your automatic/negative barrier thoughts. For example: My friend is ignoring me, she isn’t returning my call, what have I done to upset her?
  • Write down your barrier thoughts and think about ways to reinterpret the situation. For example: I know she is busy, I am sure she will ring me when she can.
  • Consider these questions:

What else could this situation or experience mean?
Can anything good come from it?
Does it present any opportunities for me?
What lessons can I learn and apply to the future?
Did I develop any strength as a result?


Practicing Acts of Kindness

1. Timing

  • If you do to little you won’t gain the full happiness benefit & do to much you can get weighed down and don’t reap the rewards of acts of kindness
  • Lyubomirsky suggests you pick a day of the week (no other day) and do one large act of kindness or 3-5 smaller ones.
  • Try to make them special and vary different each time to maintain the real happiness benefits
  • Lyubomirsky researched this method and it was found to be the most beneficial way to perform acts of kindness

2. Variety 

  • Lyubomirsky also found mixing up your acts of kindness is an effective way to gain maximum happiness from acts of kindness
  • For example; offer to do something for someone (mow a lawn), surprise someone (with a gift), do a kind deed in which you tell no one and you don’t expect anything in return

3. Chain of Kindness

  • Doing a act of kindness may lead to someone else to do something for someone else
  • The receiver of your kindness may feel excitement, surprised or thankful. They may be motivated to return the kindness to others.


Nurturing Social Relationships

  1. Make Time
  • Lyubomirsky’s research shows that couples / friends who make time to talk to their partner / friend have successful relationships.
  • Commit to extra time during the week where you simply talk
  • Spend 5 minutes everyday expressing your appreciating / gratitude to your loved ones for their specific actions
  • In the morning discuss your day ahead and in the evening reflect on your morning discussion
  • Create rituals. For example; cooking together on a Tuesday night,  dinner night Thursday, etc
  • Media free zone. Create time for each other where there is no media and conversation only

2. Express Admiration, Appreciation and Affection

  • Barbara Fredrickson’s (2011) research on positivity found relationships that flourish have a positivity ratio of 5:1. For one negative there is five positives.
  • Raise your positivity ratio by sending a positive email, a surprise kiss for your partner, a act of kindness, etc
  • Converse your gratitude directly by praising someone for something they did
  • Write a list of qualities that attracts you to your partner
  • Write about a great time in your relationship
  • Together write goals, ambitions, values, beliefs that you both share

3. Capitalise on Good Fortune

  • Share in the good fortune of your partner’s successes. Be thrilled for them, celebrate with them
  • Next time be sure to react enthusiastically to your partners / friends good news no matter how small
  • If partner is thrilled to tell you something ask lots of questions and be excited

4. Manage Conflict

  • During a conflict try making light of the moment, by screwing face in fun manner or, saying something like “I see your point of view”

5. Making Friends

  • Make time for friends by also creating rituals on a regular basis. Can be spaced out
  • Don’t dominate the friendship by choosing all activities. Share the decisions
  • Be a person who your friend can confide in
  • Be a good listener
  • Be loyal and supportive and congratulate their success
  • Embracing your friend with a hug or a firm handshake can make you feel closer

If you know someone who would benefit from the book notes click to share.

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