Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 55–86 | Cite as

Achieving Sustainable Gains in Happiness: Change Your Actions, not Your Circumstances*

  • Kennon M. SheldonEmail author
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky


Although attaining happiness is a nearly universal goal, surprisingly little research has focused on how happiness can be increased and then sustained. Three studies test predictions of a model (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005) positing that sustainable happiness is possible through intentional activity changes, more so than through circumstantial changes. Study 1 shows that less hedonic adaptation is reported in response to activity changes than to circumstantial changes. Study 2 tests a dynamic process model, showing that while both positive activity changes and positive circumstantial changes predict rank-order increases in subjective well-being from Time 1 to Time 2, only activity changes predict maintained gains at Time 3. Study 3 replicates the Study 2 findings and extends them to psychological well-being (Ryff and Keyes, 1995). Implications for positive psychology and “the pursuit of happiness” are discussed.


happiness hedonic adaptation set point well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MissouriColumbia
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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