Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Riverside, a leading expert in the science of happiness, and author of The Myths of Happiness.

On January 25, 2013, we had a wonderful interview with Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD.

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Ride Of Your Life – a 2010 Interview with Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky


The Myths of HappinessIn The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does, Sonja Lyubomirsky provides research-based lessons in how to find opportunity in life’s thorniest moments. isolates the major turning points of adult life, looking to both achievements (marriage, children, professional satisfaction, wealth) and failures (singlehood, divorce, financial ruin, illness) to reveal that our misconceptions about the impact of such events is perhaps the greatest threat to our long-term well-being.

Sonja argues that we have been given false promises–myths that assure us that lifelong happiness will be attained once we hit the culturally confirmed markers of adult success. This restricted view of happiness works to discourage us from recognizing the upside of any negative life turn and blocks us from recognizing our own growth potential. Our outsized expectations transform natural rites of passage into emotional land mines and steer us to make toxic decisions.


Sonja Lyubomirsky PhD
Nearly all of us buy into what I call the myths of happiness- beliefs that certain adult achievements (marriage, kids, jobs, wealth) will make us forever happy and that certain adult failures or adversities (health problems, not having a life partner, having little money) will make us forever unhappy. This reductive understanding of happiness is culturally reinforced and continues to endure, despite overwhelming evidence that our well-being does not operate according to such black-and-white principles.1 One such happiness myth is the notion that “I’ll be happy when ____ (fill in the blank).” I’ll be happy when I net that promotion, when I say “I do,” when I have a baby, when I’m rich..…MORE


Sonja Lyubomirsky PhDSonja Lyubomirsky, PhD., is Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Riverside. Originally from Russia, she received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her PhD in Social/Personality Psychology from Stanford University. Sonja currently teaches courses in social psychology and positive psychology and serves as the Department of Psychology’s graduate advisor. Her teaching and mentoring of students have been recognized with the Faculty of the Year and Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards.

Sonja’s research has been awarded a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, a Science of Generosity grant, a John Templeton Foundation grant, and a million-dollar grant (with Ken Sheldon) from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness. Her research has been written up in hundreds of magazines and newspapers and she has appeared in multiple TV shows, radio shows, and feature documentaries in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. She has lectured widely to a variety of audiences throughout the world, including business executives, educators, physicians, entrepreneurs, military officers, mental health professionals, life coaches, retirees, students, and scholars. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want is now translated and published in 19 countries.

Sonja Lyubomirsky AuthorIn her work, Sonja has focused on developing a science of human happiness. To this end, her research addresses three critical questions:

1) What makes people happy?
2) Is happiness a good thing?
3) How can we make people happier still?

For example, she is currently exploring the potential of happiness-sustaining activities — for example, expressing gratitude, doing acts of kindness, visualizing a positive future, and reflecting on happy moments — to durably increase a person’s happiness level beyond his or her “set point.” She has been conducting research on happiness for 23 years and has published widely in the area.

Sonja lives happily in beautiful Santa Monica, California with her husband, Peter Del Greco, and their children, Gabriella, Alexander, and new addition Isabella.

The MentorCoach community is privileged to have experienced Sonja as an oft-quoted colleague and exceptional faculty member. We have interviewed her multiple times. She taught an outstanding two-month class, The How, What & Why of Happiness Master Class attended by students from throughout the world that is still available by recording. And those who attended the 2009 MentorCoach conference in Sedona, AZ remember Sonja’s outstanding keynote presentation as well as the lovely vision of her lunching with her two young children against a sunlit, Red Rock backdrop.


Website for The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn’t/What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does

Sonja on the Today Show on 1/2/13.

That Loving Feeling Takes a Lot of Work. By Jane E. Brody, New York Times 1/14/13.

An excellent article relying on Sonja’s work and the work of Barbara Fredrickson whom we’re interviewing on 2/22/13. Barb, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has a wonderful new book, Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become.

Sonja’s Talk at Google Video (38:55) This is an excellent talk given at Google in February, 2008.

On January 3, 2013, the day her new book was published, Sonja had an hour-long interview with USA Today’s Susan Page on NPR’s Diane Rhem Show

“The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine.” Read Sonja’s widely circulated, recent NYT article on variations in happiness and hedonic adaptation in love relationships.

Fantasy Vs. Reality. New York Times 12/23/12. How your expectations can affect happiness and how to alter them.

Why We’re Still Happy. New York Times (12/26/08). How we can feel happy in the midst of an economic slump, or a looming fiscal cliff.

Follow Sonja’s research contributions in numerous blogs and popular media on measuring and changing happiness levels in childrearing, marriage, work, and health.

“The How of Happiness” and how it’s important to us. Video.

Sonja on 20/20: The How of Happiness Video (6:57)

Sonja on The Today Show, with strategies to beat post-holiday blues. Video (6:19).

Sonja’s personal Website

Sonja’s UC -Riverside site

Selected academic research publications

Sonja’s 2008 MentorCoach Interview

The How, What & Why of Happiness Master Class. A two-month MentorCoach Master Class available by recording.

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