Former Villa Park man publishes book on happiness

  • Courtesy of Dan Jacobs

  • Don Lucas wrote "Being: Your Happiness, Pleasure, and Contentment."

    Don Lucas wrote "Being: Your Happiness, Pleasure, and Contentment."

Published6/18/2009 12:00 AM

Former Villa Park resident Don Lucas, now head of the psychology department at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, knows that a lot of resources are devoted to the topic of depression.

But what about happiness?


"Just check Medline or any site on the Web. Google it. And that will tell you what's out there," said Lucas, 41.

The answer: Not much.

Millions of studies were available about depression, but only a fraction on happiness.

That realization led Lucas to spin off the "positive psychology" popularized by University of Pennsylvania professor Martin E.P. Seligman in the 1990s.

Lucas' research paid off. He recently published a book called "Being: Your Happiness, Pleasure, and Contentment" (Hayden-McNeil, $30) available at and university book stores.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines happiness as "a state of well-being and contentment."

"Around the world, the one thing people say they want out of life is that they want to be happy," Lucas said. "But what do they do to get happy? If you ask all of these people, you'll get thousands of answers."

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Some keys to happiness include friendships, work, social relationships, religion, marriage and optimism.

But sometimes people confuse happiness with pleasure. For example, newlyweds are happy for the first few years and then may not be as happy later in life.

"We often confuse other positive emotions with happiness," Lucas said.

Lucas himself is married to Lisa and they have two daughters, Sember, 8, and Rayen, 5. His parents, Velma and Jack McClelland, still live in Villa Park.

Lucas said people are understandably upset about a lot these days, including a tough recession, high unemployment, growing poverty and worries about health and education for their families.

Still, wouldn't it be neat if our society was wired a little differently so when you're feeling happy, that's when you see a psychologist?

"You can always find a reason to be sad, but you never need a reason to be happy," Lucas said.

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