David Levy is a prolific author, professional psychologist, and former actor. His research in the field of psychology has been published in numerous scientific journals and he continues to share his knowledge with students at Pepperdine University as a professor. In addition to his extensive knowledge in psychology, David has had a stint in acting in Hollywood, but now serves as a media consultant.
His multifaceted outlook on the human experience is reflected in his book Life Is a 4-Letter Word: Laughing and Learning Through 40 Life Lessons. In this interview, he talks about his love for psychology, the experiences that led to the penning of his book, and his favorite memories as an actor. 
David is a graduate of UCLA, earning a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD from the university, and has also completed the coursework for an additional Master’s in Psychology from Pepperdine, as well. 

  1. When did you realize your passion for psychology?

When I was 9 years old, I checked out a book from our local library called So You Want to Be Psychoanalyzed.  Mind you, I don’t recall ever actually reading it…but that title piqued my interest and stays with me to this day.  During my undergraduate years at UCLA I was a theater arts major – but I was drawn to enrolling in a wide range of psychology classes over the course of those four years.  I think that’s when psychology really got its hooks in me. Eventually, when I left the entertainment field in my late 20s, it seemed like a natural progression to enter psychology as a career.  

  1. I understand that you have extensive experience in therapy, research, and teaching, but also in acting. How did these seemingly disconnected roles aid in compiling the wisdom and knowledge displayed in your book, Life Is a 4-Letter Word: Laughing and Learning Through 40 Life Lessons?

At first glance, it might seem like these various career pathways are strikingly dissimilar. But, what they all share in common is an exploration and expression of the human experience, as well as the search for meaning and truth. All of these factors came together in the creation of Life Is a 4-Letter Word.  

  1. On that note, I must ask: what was your favorite and most impactful role you played during your acting career?

I think my acting roles on stage had more of an impact on me than the work I did on screen.  Probably my most favorite were the roles of Akaky Akakievich in Gogol’s, The Overcoat and Arthur in Sławomir Mrożek’s Tango.  But honestly, I loved musical theater as well: The Pajama Game, She Loves Me, and many others. When acting is going right, it’s a truly immersive creative experience.  

  1. What moment or experience in your life sparked the idea for Life Is a 4-Letter Word: Laughing and Learning Through 40 Life Lessons?

Actually, I share that very experience in the book’s prologue. It involved having to face the terror of getting a shot, at age six, by the heartless Nurse Gabe. The life lesson I drew from that experience inspired me to collect a wide range of other personal stories throughout my lifetime.  Each one concludes with a nugget of wisdom that I believe everybody can relate to. But it all started with the trauma of that dreadful shot (which, not incidentally, I still hate!)  

  1. What is one “lesson” you took away from your experience in writing this novel?

The overall lesson I took away from writing these 40 essays is that meaning in life is always around us – we just have to actively search for it.  

  1. You mention that each lesson in your book stems from a personal anecdote, what was your process in extracting the ultimate moral from these experiences?

The anecdotes have always stayed with me. Some are humorous, some are sad, some are surprising.  But for me, it’s all about the “life lesson” that each provides. With meaning, almost everything in life is bearable and sometimes even inspiring; without meaning, well, there’s just no point.    

  1. Though each “sticky note” within your book is equally as important as the next, what is one ultimate parting message you hope readers take away from Life Is a 4-Letter Word: Laughing and Learning Through 40 Life Lessons?

My wish that this book will prompt readers to search for and find meaning in their own life stories!Rapid Fire Questions: 

  1. Favorite TV show? 

Three-way tie for first place:

  1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  2. Real Time with Bill Maher
  3. The Twilight Zone
  1. Favorite course you’ve taught? 

Psychopathology

  1. Favorite college campus? 

UCLA (Go Bruins!)

  1. Favorite ice cream flavor? 

Three-way tie for first place:  

  • Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream  
  • Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream  
  • Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream  
  1. Favorite era? 

The 1960s – when I was “coming of age.”  The music, the films, the politics…an awesome decade.

  1. Favorite book? 

Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl)

  1. Favorite color? 

Black and cobalt blue (superb combo!)

  1. Favorite album? 

Rubber Soul (Beatles)

  1. Favorite relaxing activity? 

Hiking in the Santa Monica mountains

  1. Favorite movies?

Midnight Cowboy, The Wizard of Oz, Catch-22, Midnight Run, The Producers (the original), and The Godfather (of course),  

  1. Favorite actor?

Alan Arkin


Life is a 4-letter word

Laughing and Learning Through 40 Life Lessons

Insights from a veteran psychologist: Dr. David Levy is a media consultant who has appeared on over 70 television and radio broadcasts, from CNN to National Geographic, to provide psychological perspectives on current events. His previous works have been published internationally, many of them becoming bestsellers. In this book, Levy approaches readers on a more personal level but carries the same expertise that he’s shared with viewers and listeners worldwide.

Scroll to Top