The Happiness Advantage | Shawn Achor

Summary of: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
By: Shawn Achor


Embark on a journey of self-discovery and reimagine success through the powerful lens of positive psychology with ‘The Happiness Advantage’ by Shawn Achor. This book summary unravels the seven principles that can propel you towards greater happiness and remarkable performance at work. From understanding the deeply rooted impact of happiness on the human brain to discovering practical exercise to elevate your mood, you will uncover ways to tap into your hidden potential by cultivating positivity. The summary examines real-life examples, thought-provoking concepts, and research-backed strategies to inspire you to challenge the status quo and excel beyond the mundane average. Get ready to revolutionize your life and career with a transformative perspective on the pursuit of happiness.

Beyond the Average

Traditional psychology focuses on bringing people up to average levels of happiness or fulfillment, but this approach misses the opportunity to excel. Positive psychology, on the other hand, investigates what makes people excel and applies that knowledge to raise the average. Successful people have a specific interpretation of reality that sets them apart, and positive psychology seeks to understand and replicate those mindsets.

The Power of Happiness

Happiness has a subjective value defined by positive emotions that when experienced, causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals expand our thought process, optimize our ability to learn and recollect data, motivating us for a successful future. Negative emotions, on the other hand, restrict our ability to think, which impacts our performance and hinders growth. Happiness has a wide impact in our lives, affecting our health, relationships, and creativity. Several organizations like Google and Yahoo have taken steps to implement fun and relaxing activities in workplaces, resulting in better performance. The next part of the book delves into seven principles for increasing happiness, subsequently leading to better performance and success.

The Happiness Advantage

Feeling positive can fuel your performance and achieve success; anyone can achieve it through positivity exercises, including meditation and anticipation.

Have you ever noticed that work is easier when you’re in a good mood? It’s not just coincidence; our brains perform best when we feel positive, according to research. A study measured the initial level of positive emotions of 272 employees at the same company and compared it with their performance over an eighteen-month period. It found that those who started out happier received better evaluations and higher pay later on.

The successful people don’t see happiness as a reward for their accomplishments. Instead, they are successful because of their positive mindsets, which allow them to make the most of their lives. This is called the Happiness Advantage, the competitive edge gained by feeling positive, which fuels performance.

Some people believe that they’re just not happy people, and the benefits of positive emotions are lost on them. However, anyone can achieve the Happiness Advantage with positivity exercises. A good place to start is by showing appreciation for small crumbs of positivity scattered throughout life, such as short pleasant conversations with friends or watching a funny video.

Meditation is one such positivity exercise, and research shows that the brains of monks that spend years meditating tend to exhibit growth in the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for feeling happy. However, it only takes five minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing and increase happiness while reducing stress.

Additionally, anticipation is another positivity exercise. Research shows that thinking about something you’re looking forward to raises your endorphin levels by 27%. The most enjoyable part of an activity is not the activity itself but the anticipation. Achieving the Happiness Advantage is simply a matter of attitude and consistency anyone can achieve.

The Power of Perception

Our perception of the world around us is everything. It shapes our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors more than the actual events themselves. Our brains have limited resources, and we can choose to direct these resources towards pain, negativity, and stress or towards hope, optimism, and meaning. This is why a funny joke can distract from physical pain. Similarly, by changing our mindset, we can change our ability to perform, as seen in a 1979 experiment where 75-year-old men improved in physical strength, posture, perception, cognition, and short-term memory by living as if they were in 1959. A positive mindset can also lead to increased happiness and success. In essence, we have the power to shape our own reality by the way we perceive and react to the world around us.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Your mindset affects your perception of the world and can train your brain to view things positively or negatively. The Tetris effect is an example of how patterns can develop in your mind. The negative Tetris effect focuses on weaknesses while the positive Tetris effect looks for opportunities. Optimistic people set more challenging goals and work harder to achieve them. To cultivate positivity, make a habit of writing down three good things from the previous day, no matter how small. This consistent practice will increase the quality of your day and ultimately improve the quality of your life.

Choosing the Third Path

A single situation can have different perspectives that greatly affect our happiness and success. How we respond to adversity can be the difference between being frozen by failure and surging above it. The third path is using failure and adversity to become even stronger and more capable than before. Our minds create counterfacts after a crisis, and we must choose the ones that make us feel good and produce positive outcomes for the future. Success is not about never falling down, but rising after we fall. It’s important to remember that we are not defined by the events that happen to us, but rather what we make of those events.

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