The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Happiness: The Key to Success.

If you work hard, you will be successful; once you are successful you will be happy. This is a common lesson, learned from a young age. Shawn Achor argues that this conventional wisdom is backwards – stating that people who start off happy are more likely to succeed than their counterparts who start off unhappy.

This conclusion comes from Achor’s own studies at Harvard as well as from scientific studies and supporting research from around the world. Achor is an advocate of positive psychology, which, unlike traditional psychology, draws lessons from successful people rather than the failures.

In The Happiness Advantage, Achor presents seven principles of happiness and success based on the research and his experience consulting companies around the world.

It’s All in the Mind

The first principle is also the title of the book: The Happiness Advantage. This principle says that people who are happy have a psychological advantage over people who are unhappy. One way to test this is through studies over time.

For example, college freshmen that were empirically shown to be happy had a higher income 19 years later than their unhappy classmates. Other experiments showed that happiness led to more creativity and greater vision.

The second principle, The Fulcrum and the Lever, talks about the power of a mindset. The fulcrum is the mindset of the person; the length of the lever corresponds to the potential power and possibility that person believes he or she has. If someone moves the fulcrum in the right direction by adopting a more positive mindset, the lever of possibility lengthens, which leads, as empirical studies have shown conclusively, to an eventual positive outcome.

The remaining five principles include:

  • The Tetris Effect: How to retrain your brain to spot patterns of possibility rather than patterns of failure.
  • Falling Up: How to find the mental path out of failure.
  • The Zorro Circle: In the face of overwhelming odds, how to fight off emotions and regain control by beginning with small manageable goals.
  • The 20-Second Rule: How to fight off the weakening willpower to be positive.
  • Social Investment: How to invest in friends, peers and family members to move forward in challenging times.

Achor describes these principles in full, and gives ideas on how to implement them into you life. These principles, combined with the seven steps to achieving happiness, can be combined to create lifelong success.  Your brain can only hold one conscious thought at a time – make it a positive one.

“A man is but a product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.”