Positive Psychology 101: Some great Videos feat. Sonja Lyubomirsky

The first “real” Positive Psychology book that I got my hands on was the German version of the The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. It´s the one book that I still recommend to newbies when asked for a hands-on yet scientific source on the topic. Therefore, I was delighted to see that Sonja also has a lot of her stuff on Youtube. Below, you´ll find three of her short videos that were published by the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley (and there´s more where this came from).

The first video explains the set-point theory of happiness that suggests only 10% of our happiness is determined by external circumstances (such as where we live, if we are married, rich or poor etc.), while 50% is determined by our genes – which leaves roughly 40% under our personal control, precisely: Intentional activities that have been shown to raise psychological well-being.

The second video builds on that last notion, saying that there are no shortcuts to happiness – that it takes work to be happy.

The last one talks of about the benefits (the side effects) of being happy, such as being healthier, more resilient, even potentially even more successful in a wide array of life domains.



There is no way to Happiness. Happiness is the way. But: to what or where?

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” is a quote by the Buddha. I have not spoken to him in person (at least not to his 2,500 B.C. incarnation…) but what he probably meant is that happiness is not a goal that can be attained (for good). Rather, happiness is a consequence (or rather: byproduct) of doing certain things – and refraining from doing certain other things. This view opposes modern materialistic notions of life where we are repeatedly told something along the lines of “If you achieve X/if you manage to get Y – then you´ll be happy.”

Buddha´s quote is in line with other great thinkers of his time: Aristotle thought that eudaimonia (the “good life”, flourishing) was a byproduct of leading a virtuous life, where a virtue can be found right in the middle between two vices (e.g., courage lies between cowardice and imprudence). Confucius equally propagated leading a life guided by certain virtues. For instance, he formulated an early version of the Golden Rule that was made famous in the West by my compatriot Immanuel Kant.

The Science of Positive Psychology takes these sages at their word – and has gathered some empirical evidence on the issues. By way of example, happiness is a consequence of…

But if happiness is a way instead of a destination – I assume it´s also reasonable to ask: the way to what or where?

Man and Dog at Dawn

Typically, we ask ourselves what we have to do in order to be happy. But what if happiness is not the goal?

What if happiness were the input variable – not the outcome?

By now, we do know a lot about this way of looking at psychological well-being. For instance, happiness leads to …

In order to start being happy right now, I suggest you (re-)visit this video