The Promise of Sustainable Happiness

Julia K. Boehm and Sonja Lyubomirsky

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 The Promise of Sustainable Happiness

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From ancient history to recent times, philosophers, writers, self-help gurus, and now scientists have taken up the challenge of how to foster greater happiness. This chapter discusses why some people are happier than others, focusing on the distinctive ways that happy and unhappy individuals construe themselves and others, respond to social comparisons, make decisions, and self-reflect. We suggest that, despite several barriers to increased well-being, less happy people can strive successfully to be happier by learning a variety of effortful strategies and practicing them with determination and commitment. The sustainable happiness model (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005 ) provides a theoretical framework for experimental intervention research on how to increase and maintain happiness. According to this model, three factors contribute to an individual's chronic happiness level: (a) the set point, (b) life circumstances, and (c) intentional activities, or effortful acts that are naturally variable and episodic. Such activities, which include committing acts of kindness, expressing gratitude or optimism, and savoring joyful life events, represent the most promising route to sustaining enhanced happiness. We describe a half-dozen randomized controlled interventions testing the efficacy of each of these activities in raising and maintaining well-being, as well as the mediators and moderators underlying their effects. Future researchers must endeavor not only to learn which particular practices make people happier, but how and why they do so.

Keywords: construal; happiness; intervention; set point; well-being

Article.  7435 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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