National Command & Staff College

Episode #5 With Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky


Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky is a Professor at the UC Riverside and the author of “The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness”

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Originally from Russia, she received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. 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 Vice Chair. Her teaching and mentoring of students have been recognized with the Faculty of the Year Award (twice) and the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Lyubomirsky’s research has been honored with the Diener Award for Outstanding Midcareer Contributions in Personality Psychology, the Christopher J. Peterson Gold Medal, the UC Riverside Distinguished Research Lecturer Award, a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, a Science of Generosity grant, two John Templeton Foundation grants, a Character Lab grant, A Psychology & Philosophy 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. Lyubomirsky’s best-selling The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Press) is now translated and published in 23 countries, and The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does (Penguin Press) is translated (or will be) in 16 countries.

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?
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, fostering micro-connections, acting more extraverted, making someone else happier, affirming significant values, visualizing a positive future, and savoring positive experiences – to durably increase a person’s happiness level. She has been conducting research on happiness for 30 years and has published widely in the area.

Lyubomirsky lives happily in beautiful Santa Monica, California with her husband, Peter Del Greco, and their children, Gabriella, Alexander, and little ones Isabella and Olivia.

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