#105 The Myth of Happily Ever After & Redefining Happiness with Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP, is a writer, well-being consultant, and international speaker who studies and writes about the science of happiness and how it affects relationships and health. She wrote the book Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts with her husband, James, which was named the best book of the year by Business Insider, Success Magazine, and the Greater Good Science Center. Suzann is also a columnist at Psychology Today, Live Happy, and the Newsletter of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). She’s been featured in publications like Time Magazine, INC Magazine, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Enquirer, and the London Times. Before becoming a relationship expert, Suzann was the VP of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick Worldwide and headed award-winning PR campaigns. Suzann currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and her son, Liam.

Today, Suzann shares the inspiration that led to her book, Happy Together, and how fairy tales have warped our expectations of relationships. She discusses her unique approach to strengthening relationships and how couples benefit from focusing more on positive emotions than negative ones. She describes how she approaches challenges in her own relationship, how she communicates with her husband, and the things she found adorable at the beginning of their relationship that is now a source of conflict. She also offers advice on why happiness is not the most important goal and how to recognize the other positive emotions we experience daily to redefine happiness.


“You don’t just meet a person, get in a relationship, get married, and that’s it. You have to build relational muscle.”
– Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


This week on In the Doctor’s Chair:

  • Suzann’s inspiration for writing her book, Happy Together
  • Why Suzann chose to focus on what can go right with relationships in her book
  • The role of positive psychology in relationships
  • Why it can be easier to notice the bad things in a relationship than the good
  • What people get wrong about relationships
  • What Suzann learned about communication through her relationship with her husband
  • How traits you initially loved about your partner can become the source of conflict
  • Why anger and sadness are just as important as happiness
  • Why suppressing emotions can be counterproductive to being happily partnered
  • How relationships are like your gym routine
  • The skills and strategies couples can use to keep their relationship strong
  • The importance of gratitude in relationships
  • How couples can learn to listen to each other
  • Why are people bad at receiving compliments
  • Suzann’s most powerful piece of advice for couples
  • Why the concept of soulmates is dangerous
  • Why it’s difficult for people in relationships to stay together and remain happy
  • How to redefine happiness
  • Ten common positive emotions that aren’t happiness
  • How to feel more serene in your day-to-day life
  • What Aristotle can teach us about making our partners happy
  • Suzann’s three takeaways for a resilient mind

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Suzann Pileggi Pawelski:


In the Doctor’s Chair

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