Summary of The Myths of Happiness

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Many people operate under false assumptions and expectations about becoming happy and avoiding unhappiness. They believe that difficult circumstances condemn them to lives of sadness. Award-winning psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky disagrees. She examines common notions and myths about happiness, clarifies why and how they are flawed, and offers insightful suggestions on how to be happy even during the toughest of times. Lyubomirsky explains how to make better decisions and achieve positive attitudes that can boost your quest for contentment. getAbstract recommends her expert advice to those seeking more joy and to those who want to understand the psychological factors that often misdirect how people perceive their lives.

About the Author

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. She also is the author of The How of Happiness, which has been translated into 19 languages.



“May Be”

An old farmer had a valuable workhorse. One day, the horse ran off. The farmer’s neighbors expressed their sympathies. “Such bad luck,” they all said. “May be,” the old farmer said. The next day the horse returned with six wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors said. “May be,” said the old farmer. His son tried to ride one of the wild horses, fell out of the saddle and broke his leg. The neighbors said it was clear the son had bad luck. “May be,” the old farmer said. The next day, government officials came to draft young men from the village into the army. They didn’t take the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. The neighbors congratulated the old farmer on how well things turned out for his son. The old farmer answered, “May be.”

A few words from English poet William Blake explain the moral of this story: “Joy and woe are woven fine.” What appears to be happiness often turns out to be something else altogether, at least in the long term. Conversely, what appears to be sadness often mellows with time. Even the worst pitfalls in someone’s life can prove, years later, to have some positive aspects. No one knows how life events will play out.


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