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Notes on Happiness

SunflowersNotes on Happiness (the video version) are made by Brain Johnson and are taken from, positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, “The How of Happiness,” which she describes as a “new approach to getting the life you want.”

Brian created a learning tool he calls the “Philosophers Notes” in which he curates is favorite “Big Ideas.” In his video he introduces us to both the concept of the “Philosophers Notes” and the first subject of his process; Lyubomirsky’s book, “The How of Happiness.”

The basic idea behind “Philosophers Notes,” is from “100 of the top personal growth book…ever,” Brian pulls out what he considers the top ten or so “Big Ideas.” Ideas he believes that can transform our lives right now.

Here’s Brian sharing ten big ideas from “The How of Happiness.”

Some leading researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky along with positive psychologists, Martin Seligman and Ed Diener created what they call the “happiness formula.”


Happiness = Set Point+ Conditions of Living + Voluntary Activities

Out of this formula, Brian notes, that Lyubomirsky had planned, at one time, to call her book the “forty percent solution,” because her research indicated that 40 percent of our happiness is within our control.

The other 60 percent of the “happiness formula” is made up of 10 percent “C” and 50 percent “V.”

“C” (Conditions of Living) makes up only about 10 percent of the formula, and are conditions which are influenced by things like our relationships or socioeconomic status. The last 50 percent, the “S” in the equation, is our “set point,” which is genetic in nature.

A side-note – there’s an implication made that because the “set point” is genetic it is immutable, and therefore whatever “set point” you came into this world with is the one that you will leave with.

There is a growing field known as epigenetics, in which research has shown that environment controls the activity of genes. In other words, you’re not stuck with your “happiness set point.”    

That knowledge, in my mind, doesn’t diminish in any way, the research or the power of the happiness formula. Instead, I believe it creates an expanded expression of the “happiness formula” and adds a deeper dimension to their approach.            

The part that Brian focuses on (the first “Big Idea”) is the 40 percent (V) that’s in our control, which is the major focus of the book.

The second “Big Idea” is that the “How of Happiness” is a practice. Practice requires attention, intention, focus and persistence, sometime collectively known as “discipline.” If you have a resistance to the word discipline, I understand, it can conjure negative connotations for some. If that’s the case, simply focus on “focus.”

This is Brian’s approach as well; not only to focus but to narrow your focus and pick one or two items from the “How of Happiness” to build your practice around.

At this point Brian outlines the 12 activities which I will list below. Before I do though, in order for you to achieve what you desire, I would strongly recommend that you pick up and read a copy of “How of Happiness” or get Brian’s “Philosophers Notes.” Better yet, get both. I’m only saying this because this is just a review and the truly powerful and transformative information is found there.

Here are the 12 activities that Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests:

1. Practice Expressing Gratitude

2. Practice Cultivating Optimism

3. Avoid Overthinking and Social Comparrison

4. Practice Acts of Kindness

5. Nurture Social Relationships

6. Practice developing Strategies for Coping

7. Learn to Forgive

8. Increase “Flow” Experiences

9.  Practice Savoring Life’s Joys

10. Commit to your Goals

11. Practice Religion and/or Spirituality

12. Practice Taking Care of Your Body and Your Soul

Brian Johnson quickly takes you through these practices in his video, focusing a bit on the number one happiness activity, gratitude and some other “Big Ideas.”

It’s easy to understand why Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, “The How of Happiness,” is Brian number one book and the first one he chose to include in Philosophers Notes,” and his notes on happiness video.

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