University of California, Riverside

Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Originally from Russia, she received her BA, summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her PhD in social/personality psychology from Stanford University. Lyubomirsky 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.

In 2002, Lyubomirsky was awarded a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize. Currently, she is an associate editor of The Journal of Positive Psychology and (with Ken Sheldon) holds a five-year million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness. Her research has been written up in dozens of magazines and newspapers and she has appeared on multiple TV shows, radio shows, and feature documentaries in North America and Europe. She has lectured widely to a variety of audiences, including business executives, life coaches, retirees, students, and scholars. The How of Happiness encompasses her findings on the nature of happiness.

In her work, Lyubomirsky 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?; and 3) How can we make people happier still? She is currently exploring the potential of happiness-sustaining activities—for example, expressing gratitude, doing acts of kindness, visualizing one’s “best possible selves,” and reflecting on happy moments—to durably increase a person’s happiness level. She has been conducting research on happiness for eighteen years and has published widely in the area.

Sonja and I met and spoke about happiness, the value of challenges and risks, and dealing with life transitions.