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Our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG—to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work.

Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential. Among the principles he outlines:

• The Tetris Effect: how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see—and seize—opportunities wherever we look.
• The Zorro Circle: how to channel our efforts on small, manageable goals, to gain the leverage to gradually conquer bigger and bigger ones.
• Social Investment: how to reap the dividends of investing in one of the greatest predictors of success and happiness—our social support network

A must-read for everyone trying to excel in a world of increasing workloads, stress, and negativity, The Happiness Advantage isn’t only about how to become happier at work. It’s about how to reap the benefits of a happier and more positive mind-set to achieve the extraordinary in our work and in our lives.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307591549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591548
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Customer Reviews

A Year Later

239 people found this helpful.
 on March 4, 2014
By NCC
I saw Shawn Anchor’s presentation on PBS where he explained a simple 5 minute technique called ‘The 3 Gratitudes’.

Great Resource for those Mentoring Millennials

 on September 7, 2017
By Danita Bye
As mentors, coaches, and leaders of Millennials, it’s important to have an understanding of key principles that will help them contribute to the flourishing of the world…when it seems that they are surrounded by negativity and fear from every direction. By leveraging the principles Shawn outlines, we can become better at growing our businesses, maximizing the emerging leaders in our sphere of influence and realizing our leadership legacy. Since Millennials Matter to all of our futures, I highly recommend this book.

Find your orange advantage!

 on July 29, 2017
By J. WILSON
This is probably one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. It’s not a book that just tells you to think positive thoughts and your world changes. It’s a description of why mindset is so important in dictating your future rather than a byproduct of other outcomes. It gives you practical tactical tools to begin to develop your own happiness and additional resources to help you in your journey. Worth the time and effort to read, even if you don’t want to try out any of the ideas on your own.

An Excellent, Self-Helpy-Yet-Scientifically-Grounded Examination of Happiness

5 people found this helpful.
 on November 19, 2015
By Trevor Habermeyer
While it may read like “pop psychology” at times, The Happiness Advantage is a joy to read, full of scientifically-grounded ways to help us live “happier” lives. Achor strikes a nice balance between self-help and science, as he writes towards the beginning: “Books about how to get ahead in the workplace can be inspirational but are often full of unproven strategies. On the other hand, science can be fascinating but is often impossible to understand, much less translate into action. My goal in writing this book has been to bridge that gap” (pp. 33). I wish more self-help literature adopted this approach.

This book helped me snap out of more than a decade-long depression

4 people found this helpful.
 on January 9, 2014
By thegirlwhoreads
It’s true when they say that your thoughts dictate your actions. Reading this book has given me a great perspective on life. I was introduced to it when a friend shared Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk. The topic interested me and I decided to buy the book. It was a mind-opener. I don’t think it was intended to be a self-help book but learning about positive psychology really helped me think about more positive things, which eventually lead to a much better quality of life for me.

Buy it and read it often

 on January 10, 2015
By Nona
What is important in life? Happiness or Success? Out of the two listed above, which comes first? Happiness follows success according to primary belief. Is that true? Does success follow happiness or is it the other way around? Shawn Achor believes the latter is true. If you are happy, then you will eventually have success. How is happiness important? How can we achieve happiness? Shawn Achor uses this book to answer these questions.

Good book, but can use some improvements

6 people found this helpful.
 on September 21, 2015
By Sami
Book is acceptably well written and full of research references, but the author needs to chill about using “ground breaking research” every 3 pages. Many of the experiments he refers to are well-known and are used in other psychology “ground breaking” writings. His approach is fresh, but his “concrete” actions to create the happiness advantage aren’t really concrete. What I mean is that he uses his own unique names to explain his ideas (“Falling Upwards”, “The Fulcrum and the Lever”), but at the end of every idea you’re still wondering what it really meant, and what the concrete takeaways are.

Great book!

 on July 20, 2017
By James A. Trinka
After I read The Orange Frog book…highly recommended…I had to read this book by Shawn Achor. I wasn’t disappointed as this book is chock full of examples from life and work backed up be considerable psychological research. Great book!

Phenomenal Presentation of an Important Topic!

 on October 12, 2015
By Ethan
I am HUGE into positive psychology readings, and much of this book covers what I believe to be one of the most important areas of study in behavioral science thus far. It is applicable to both work life and personal life. Achor speaks about how success is fueled by happiness, not the reverse (which many of us have been taught to believe for so long). Without spoiling the book, he covers why so many companies (such as Google, Apple, and Amazon) are taking new approaches to enhancing the lives of their workers in order to fuel success. Achor gives seven key principles to promoting the general welfare of work in a way that is humorous, and even had me laughing out loud to myself in a couple of his jokes that he told in the boom. This book is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who is looking to improve their lives!

Yay for Happiness

 on April 8, 2017
By SpaceWeepul
I think this is a great book that everyone should read. Even if you’re a blue-blooded communist who has perfected the art of being dour, you should know how you can become happier and what the possible benefits might be. This book improved my life.