Download Full Text (1.7 MB)


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.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


Oxford, UK


sustainable happiness, positive psychology, well being, set point, intervention, construal


Cognition and Perception | Other Psychology | Psychology


In C.R. Snyder and Shane J. Lopez (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Dr. Boehm's chapter begins on page 667.

This text is only partially available through the link provided; some pages are not included.


Oxford University Press

The Promise of Sustainable Happiness