This book is the beautiful child of self-help and science. The authors employ Goal-Setting Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, and Learned Optimism to help us be more successful and fulfilled. This book sets itself apart from almost all other self-help books because they don’t use anecdotes or magical thinking as evidence, they cite empirical data; it’s refreshing.

Pragmatic Applications

Goal Setting Theory

Learn Optimism

Book Notes 

Part 1 – Why Life Lists Matter

Chapter 1 – The Royal Road of Happiness and Success

“Findings from thirty years of research on life satisfaction show that happiness requires having clear-cut goals in life that give us a sense of purpose and direction.”
“Spillover effect” – likely connected with Keystone habits

Life List Theory

Social Contagion Factor
Dr. Nicholas Christakis

Portrait Of Your Life Technique (pg 249)

Chapter 1 Techniques PG 14

Chapter 2 – Whats all the Fuss about Happiness

“It is not God’s will merely that we should be happy, but that we should make ourselves happy.” Kant

Happiness is very important but it isnt everything
People are score themselves 10s tend to not do as well as people who score as 8 or 9s

We do have a genetic happiness set point
But research shows we have between 50-80% control over our happiness
Offers Happiness Equation
Setpoint + Circumstances + Voluntary Activities = Happiness
Voluntary activity is where the magic is

“Percentages may vary slightly from study to study, but its safe to posit that 50 percent to 80 percent of our daily contentment is completely under our control.”

Seeking material things will not work to lastingly improve happiness due to the Hedonic Treadmill

Page 22 lists what “Very Happy” people have in common

The Big Four Predictors of Happiness
All Four are Cultivable!

This book focuses on Self-Efficacy

Self-Efficacy Theory
Albert Bandura
It is improvable

How To Build Self-Efficacy
Have Role Models
Successful people read biographies, but finding in person mentors is critical
Having Allies
The key is not only that they support us, but we know they will offer honest feedback
Learning How To Manage Stress
Having Mastery Experiences
She claims this is the most important

1) Life Lists are common to high achievers and promote happiness
2) Happiness is genetically influenced but daily actions and behaviors are just as important

Technique: BAT Form PG 252
-Research supported technique o to improve esteem, efficacy, and confidence

Chapter 3: How Happy Are You?

“Happiness is…want what you want, getting what you get, and hoping that the two coincide.” – Howard Jones

Happiness precedes achieved goals
Happiness will help us achieve goals

“Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ed Diener, and Laura King — all top researchers and scholars in the field of positive psychology — have methodically examined reams of data and concluded that the happiest people among us actually draw success to themselves in areas ranging from work to friendships, and that the benefits of becoming even a little happier on a daily basis can favorably impact the achievement of our goals in every area of life.”

Page 29 list of how Happy People perform better in life

They offer we learn how happy we currently are before we start creating a Life List
It is important to create our life list in a positive frame of mind
(When working with people, do what needs to be done to change their emotional state so they are positive)
This gives us a number we can measure for progress. This is important in business.

Once you take the take; write about activities that consistently make you feel calm, contented, and joyful
For me, reading a good book, writing about what I learned, writing stream of consciousness, long walks, trying to teach someone something. Working out when my body is healthy. Mainly reading, writing, and walking.
PLAYING BASKETBALL DUH! (I’d like to make yoga and meditation one of these too)

Using these activities you just explained as self-prescribed mood boosters allow us to treat ourselves
Cultivate the myth that these activities build “inner-abundance” which will help us tackle our life goals and set-backs
(This is a tool-kit to improve ourselves)

She calls these “Booster Shots”
Collect peoples answers will be interesting.
Jolts Of Joy Technique pg 241
Added technique, ask people closest to you what activities they see boost your happiness.

Research Tested Happiness Boosters
#1) Journaling
There is a “best possible Self” exercise that is the reverse of the trauma exercise
#2) Gratitude
#3) Exercise
#4) Altruistic Behavior
#5) Savoring Happy memories
#6) Forgiving
#7) Apply Your Strengths
Take Test, Put Results on Wall or somewhere you’ll see it
#8) Meditation

Technique list on PG 45

Start by taking the test to see where you rate your happiness
Create a list of Joy Boosters (Put This on Wall)
Take Signature Strength Tests

Part 2: Creating Your Best Possible Life List

Chapter 4 – Life Changing Goals

“SMART” goal setting is the norm but there are subtleties that need to be added here

Goal Must Be Challenging and Specific
“low goals and no goals” are to be avoided
“do your best” goals are bad too, they are vague and do not correlate with high performance
Exception: do your best is good when it is a learning goal, not a performance goal

Goal Must Be Measurable
Allows create of “subgoals” which help us see our progression and boost from “small wins”

There Needs To Be Feedback

Pick an “Approach” goal over an “Avoid” Goal
Choose a goal you are excited to strive towards
Having goals that we work to avoid actually cost more mental energy and we’re focused on a negative

Goal Needs To Be Intrinsic
We are more likely to accomplish Intrinsic goals then Extrinsic goals
Intrinsic Goals connect with an Overarching Life Vision (Create a Mission Statement for yourself)
Intrinsic Goals have three properties
-prompt autonomous and independent behavior
-help create competence and ability to take care of oneself
-they assist people in connecting and relating well to each other

Attach Goals To Values

Goals Need to be Nonconflicting and Leveraged
People who have conflicting life goals are less likely to achieve either
Leverage your goals – have them feed each other
Me wanting to study evolutionary psychology is helping me understand the human condition which helps me help people more effectively

Write It Down
Create a Behavioral Contract
“I will do x, this is how I will do it, and this is how I will reward myself”

Precommit and Use Accountability
Sign Contract, and tell friends (mixed data here)

Use Flow
Flow Chart on page 245

The Best Goals are
Specific and Challenging
Approach (not avoidant)
Value Driven
Creates feeling of independence, connectedness, and competence
Measurable and allow for feedback
Non-Conflicting and leveraged
Precommitted and accountable
Capable of creating flow


Consulting Session
Take Happiness Survey
Create a Joy Boosting Sheet
Homework: Take Signature Strength Survey
Use The Goal Setting checklist to Choose goals

Chapter 5: Creating The List That Works For You

Use Page 238 (Goal Success Plan) to vet every goal

“Magic Wand” technique to see what an ideal life would be like
If I could wave a magic wand and create the life I want, I would have a course on line people can take that seek so help achieve the life they want, and the course would track data and use this data to improve itself. I would work with people one on one or in small groups to help them change their lives. I would life off of this work, and I would genuinely be transforming people’s lives.

What Are your Values?
If you don’t know, list your top five favorite characters and write down their most obvious qualities.

Goal-Setting Techniques
Happiness House Technique PG 68
Bucket List
Mind Maps (PG 246)
Vision Boards
Blogs (PG 266)

Summary: (This is good)

Checklist For Consulting
Take Happiness Survey
Generate List of Joy Boosters
Review Checklist for goal setting (use guide on page 328)
Identify Vision
Overviews ways to goal set and give them the homework.

Chapter 6: Willpower: Why You Must Say No Sometimes

She believes Willpower is the Key to successfully achieving the goals we set

Take Self-Control Scale
Self-Control Data PG 81

Self-Control is like a muscle the dwindles as we focus through the day
List of what does and doesn’t deplete Self-Control (PG 83-84)

2 Studied ways to instantly boost Self-Control
Make yourself smile or laugh
Consume a small amount of sugar

Willpower Boosters
Hide Temptations
Have an Exercise Routine
Start a Money-Management Program
Avoid Alcohol
Tech on Page 236

One of the “Silver Bullets” it is all good
Richard Davidson and “loving-kindness”

Check Email only twice a day
Use Social Media (including texting), only at specific times in the day.
Remove Games from phone and computer


Willpower is the most important factor is achieving Life Goals. Learn about how Willpower Works.

Chapter 7: Risks That Pay Off

Creating a mindset of periodically doing something that scares you in a guaranteed way to change your life.
When defaulting, we unconsciously avoid what is hard or scare and default into easy and comfortable

We are wired where losing hurts more then winning feels good.
We have to Use our Our Rider to combat this.

If you have Regrets, Use them to fuel your goal setting

Shame Attacking Exercise
Introduce Albert Ellis (I’ll read all of his books)
Talking to women as an example
Consciousness Raising
Say Goodbye to “Long Lost Self”
Journal exercise where you say goodbye to a goal that is now not possible/unrealistic

Chapter 8: The Company You Keep

Introduce Dr. Nicholas Christakis
2007 Harvard Study found that the leading predictor of weight gain is if your closet friends are gaining weight

Emotional and Social Contagion Theory (tech on page 247)

Chris Peterson: Other People Matter (TRIBE!)
New Years Resolution

The Losada Line! (PG 108)
In Business 2.9 to 1, positive to negative comment ratio, predicted success
Losada’s finding fits Barbara Frederick’s “Borden and build” theory of positive emotions
When our Positivity Ration is higher then 3 – 1 at work, we are
More creative
Curious and exploring of Unknown
Make Friends
Enter “upward-spiral” of well-being

Love (John Gottaman)
5 to 1 or 6 to 1 is the optimum positively ratio for relationships (and highly flourishing company teams)
Wow, if the ratio is over 11 to 1, benefits disappear (really interesting)
At this point we start sensing that the praise in unrealistic and fake, we stop believing and trusting the other

The Opposite; It is important to get rid of relationships that fall below this ratio
Do a notecard or 2 hour interval technique to see who your blackholes are

3 Was to Build Relationships Positively
Active-Constructive Responding
Take your Time

Summary: Our closest friends dramatically influence us

Chapter: Grit

Part Three: Personalizing Your Goals in 16 Life Spheres

Chapter 11: Mission Statement And Morals

6 Questions to Find Mission Statement PG 150
-Help People Heal Themselves

Leads into Religion and Spirituality

Chapter 12: The Holy Grail of Happiness

Friends; Relationships (Arguably
the most important of the 16 spheres)

Love Relationships

Chapter 13: Body, Mind, and Soul Goals


Chapter 14: Live, Laugh, Love


Pick Up a musical instrument
Piano or tribal drums

Chapter 15: Can Money Buy Happiness


Note: People who set goals are creating a pulling force, people without goals are being pushed by the past.

Chapter 16: The Surroundings That Shape You


Part Four: Savoring The Wins

Chapter 17: Celebrating The Wins

Concept of “capitalizing”

Active Constructive
When someone shares something positive, enthusiastically ask for more details

Have a Group of people you trust that you can share wins with
Practice Savoring

Chapter 18: Hitting Speed Bumps

“Don’t let a lapse become a collapse.”

Stages of Change (Get Book: Changing For Good) PG 213

1. I have solved my problem more than 6 months ago
2. I have taken action on my problem in the last 6 months
3. I am intending on taking action in the next month
4. I am intending on taking action in the next 6 months
(These four questions determine where in the change process someone is. This is the diagnostic question to start consulting meetings.

You don’t know what the problem is, havent even though to act.

You know there is a problem, looking for whys and hows.

You Know there is a problem and you are preparing to act soon.

We are taking action (Setbacks will happen)

You are actively working on the new habits and bouncing back from setbacks

The new habit is so ingrained you know longer have to think about it. It is “done”

Note: The Joy Booster list is your stress-management list.
Resilience is one of the most important aspects of goal achieving.
Use your Joy Booster List to stay resilient

Long Resilience List PG 218 (Seems to be culmination of book)