Happiness expert to advise joint faculty

Noa Yadidi

An expert on happiness will speak at a joint faculty meeting Feb. 18.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, will be the second speaker to address both the middle and upper school faculty this year in Saperstein Theatre on the middle school campus.Each year, the school picks two speakers to speak at the two joint faculty meetings, and Lyubomirsky will follow Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck who spoke to faculty Oct. 8. The divisions heads group, made up of Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts, Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas, Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish, Head of Athletics Terry Barnum and Director of Studies Liz Resnick, seeks people with a national reputation who they hope will have insight to offer teachers that they don’t normally hear in the context of working at school, Huybrechts said.

“She’s more than just a happiness expert,” Huybrechts said. “That’s her scholarly interest, and her area of research is what promotes happiness. I think she’s going to convey to us how so much of whether one is happy or not depends so much on attitude and that one can actually become happier by just having a better attitude.”
Lyubomirsky, who is originally from Russia, received her B.A. in psychology, summa cum laude, from Harvard University in 1989 and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford in 1994.

“We very much support the notion of promoting positive attitude at school,” Huybrechts said. “For example, not just having a counseling and psychology department that simply deals with crises or kids or adults who are having problems. But rather, being very intentional about promoting positive attitude at school.”

Huybrechts hopes that such positive attitudes can be a part of every course and interaction students and teachers have to make those as positive an experience as possible.Lyubomirsky’s book “The How of Happiness” was published in 2008, and her other book “The Myths of Happiness” was released in 2013.