The How Of Happiness
By Sonja Lyubomirsky – Part 2

Strategies for Coping

1. Expressive Writing

  • James Pennebaker has developed and tested a strategy for coping. Write about a painful experience for 15-30min a day for 3-5 consecutive days. Pennebaker concluded expressive writing about a painful experience has many helping factors, such as: making fewer visits to the doctor, enhanced immune function, less depression and distress, higher grades and find new jobs after unemployment. These results were derived from control groups and groups who took part in the writing. The positive results have been discovered across a variety of individuals, healthy and sick, young and old, poor and rich and people living in variety of countries

Learning to Forgive

1. Letter of Forgiveness

  • Lyubomirsky suggests to write a letter of forgiveness to someone who has hurt you, BUT you have a choice to either send or not to send the letter. You know your situation. If it’s appropriate to send by all means go ahead. If you don’t feel comfortable sending it don’t.
  • These individuals may or may not be still in your life
  • Does the hurt make you unhappy? do your thoughts remain negative due to the hurt the person has caused?
  • In the letter describe the hurt that was caused to you, how if affected you at the time and also now. Describe what you wished the person had done instead and then end with a forgiveness statement. “I forgive my high school teacher for saying I was to dumb for university”.

Savouring Life’s Joys

1. Enjoy Ordinary Experiences

  • Lyubomirsky discusses a study where a group of depressed people were asked to take a few minutes once a day to really take pleasure in something they would normally hurry through, e.g. eating a meal, shaving, getting out of the office at the end of the day. The group were asked to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently and also how they felt compared to the times they rushed through. By practicing savouring regularly the group notably improved their happiness and were found to be less depressed. Give it a go.

2. Savour and Reminisce with Family and Friends

  • Allocate time with family or friends to participate in an activity together
  • Enjoy the pleasure that the moment brings to all parties
  • Sharing moments by positively reminiscing with another can boost your time together
  • This strategy enable you to reflect on pleasant times
  • Lyubomirsky shares that researcher suggests mutual reminiscing brings joy, contentment, accomplishment to everyone but particularly for older people

3.Celebrate Good News

  • Share and celebrate good news with family and friends
  • Lyubomirsky explains sharing accomplishments and successes with others has been proven to increase well-being
  • Enjoy the present moment, be proud of your hard work and pat yourself on the back
  • Also participate in celebrating families and friends successes as well

4. Be Mindful

  • Being mindful refers to being present, here and now
  • Notice and appreciate the moment> For e.g. the feeling of a hug, a particular beautiful part of nature, the smell of fresh food.
  • Lyubomirsky points out a study conducted at the University of Rochchester discovered people who are mindful in their surroundings compared to the average person are more likely to be happy, optimistic, self confident, and satisfied with their lives. They are also likely to be less depressed, angry, anxious and hostile

5. Create a Savouring Album

  • Make an album filled with photos of loved ones, favourite places you have visited, pets, etc. Your album could also include meaningful letters, newspaper articles, a drawing your child did, etc.
  • Look at the album of your treasured memories when in need of a boost of happiness

Commit to Your Goals

1. Benefits of Committing to Goals

  • According to Lyubomirsky these are some of the benefits committing to goals:
  • Provides a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives. What ever we do and whatever the goals we are trying to reach it gives us something to work towards and look forward to.
  • Meaningful goals can help our self-esteem, and excite us to feel confident. Achieving small goals on the way to our big goals provides us with joy and pride and drives us to moving forward
  • Adds structure and meaning to each day. The goals provide timetables, responsibilities, deadlines, opportunities to perfect new skills and social interactions
  • Helps us to master the use of our time, by identifying priority goals and then narrowing them down to smaller steps and to develop a schedule to achieve them
  • Striving to achieve goals often involves social interactions with other people such as clients, friends, colleagues, etc. These type of interactions can produce happiness


1. Types of Meditation Techniques

  • Zen meditation, Transcendental meditation, Vipassana meditation, Kirtan Mediation

2. Categories of Meditation

  • Concentrative, mindfulness, contemplative, loving-kindness. Whatever the meditation is they all revolve around attention

3. Key Elements of Meditation

  • Lyubomirsky states (2008), “Meditation is a very personal experience and may be performed in many different ways, but experts have put together several crucial elements to aim for during its practice.”
  • Be non-judgemental: observe the present moment impartially, with detachment, without evaluation
  • Be patient: Don’t rush things, allow them to evolve in your own time
  • Be trusting: trust yourself and trust things will work out in life
  • Be open: pay attention to every little thing, as though you were setting it up for the very first time
  • Let go: set yourself free of overthinking and negative thought.

4. Benefit of Meditation

  • Lyubomirsky suggests research has indicated that meditation can increase ones blood flow, brain activity and awareness.
  • Can produce greater happiness, less depression and anxiety, less panic attacks and can boost immune system
  • Has also proven to be effective in patients with heart disease, chronic pain, skin disorders and substance abuse
  • Can also help people who are ill by reducing stress levels, boosting self-esteem, moods and feelings of control

Physical Activity

1. Why Does Physical Activity Make People Happier?

  • Seeing the rewards of a regime provides a sense of self worth
  • It offers a positive distraction that turns away worries and negative thoughts
  • Offers timeout from your stressful, which can carry over for hours
  • Physical activity has shown in studies to be just as effective as medications when it comes to boosting mood hormones and decreasing anxiety
  • Physical activity can provide social interaction, therefore possibly boosting social support and affirming friendships
  • Whist exercising you get the feel good experience alomg with the added bonuses of improved physical fitness including cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and strength
  • Further benefits include lifting heavier objects, walk further and avoid health problems as we get older

2. How?

  • Simply by moving more
  • Walking, jogging, obtain a gym membership, sports (tennis, basketball, etc), dance class,
  • Plan when you are going to exercise. Be specific. Dates, starting times, duration, etc
  • Vary your type of exercise for interest purposes if you feel the need
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day or if not most days
  • If you regularly exercise increase the tempo. Run faster, lift heavier weights, join an advanced class, etc
  • If you miss a session, don’t let it get to you, get back to it the next day, don’t give up the whole thing

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