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Last Thursday, a day before taking off and going back home, I went to UC Riverside to meet with Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. The somewhat festive feeling of the last Ride interview was a little disturbed by pouring rain all the way from Carlsbad to Riverside and back. So, I arrived to the psychology building pretty wet, but in a great mood…
Sonja’s research work on human well-being spans more than 20 years. Her approach combines both theory and practice, so in her world it’s not enough to say that something is good for you – you also have to empirically prove it. Her first book, The How Of Happiness, has been a great success. It details daily strategies that have been scientifically tested to work, that one can use to become happier. She is now working on her second book and runs some outstanding experiments on generosity and kindness and how they propagate and spread in communities from one to another.
Sonja and I collaborated on the Live Happy iPhone app and I know her previous research work well, so I was eager to learn more about what she is working on now, and ask her some questions about the thoughts and insights I had while on the road. We spoke about the value of challenges and risks, going outside one’s comfort zone, money and happiness, and the opportunities that life transitions (like midlife) hold. Here is a short summary of our conversation: