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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

201 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 information – and fun to read!

366 people found this helpful.
 on September 16, 2010
By stewart b clifford
I read a lot of business books. Most of them are filled with helpful information. Frankly, most of them are also a little on the dry. “The Happiness Advantage” is different. It is filled with fascinating research and great ideas, and it is also a hoot to read. I found myself laughing out loud as I read the book.

Excellent book for leaders, parents, and other humans.

5 people found this helpful.
 on November 26, 2013
By oldscoop
Well-done, Shawn. I have listened to the book twice on audio and bought the paperback to make sure I capture all the great references. I have printed out key points from the book and have them above my computer at work and on my mirror at home.

Read the book, change your life.

3 people found this helpful.
 on September 18, 2014
By M. Hoopes
Happiness is not a result of success, but a precursor, even a prerequisite to it. Happiness indeed begets influence, wealth, intellectual and social growth, and nearly every desirable thing in life. And—here’s the secret–happiness is achieved by small, consistent, conscious acts taught by nearly every religion and school of self-improvement: kindness, gratitude, smiling, social interaction, compliments, and (drum roll) actively looking for the positive.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book

One person found this helpful.
 on June 27, 2017
By Haley P
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had to read it for a graduate course I’m taking on administration and it really opened my eyes to some things I could do in my management role that would help me be a more effective leader. Not only that, but it helped me realize ways to increase my happiness and productivity in my personal life. I really recommend this to anyone who is looking to increase their positive perspective on work and life in general. Easy and fun to read.

this book really drives home the key points it trying to get across – empirical proof that happiness will drive success (not the

One person found this helpful.
 on November 1, 2016
By thebloker
Well written and entertaining, and as far as I can tell based in reality and very keen observations of human nature – i.e., it works. Unlike a lot of sales and motivational based literature which are more an homage to the authors overinflated sense of self worth, this book really drives home the key points it trying to get across – empirical proof that happiness will drive success (not the other way around), and here’s the groundwork to do so. Perfect book to read even if you’re just looking for more satisfaction out of your every day life…its not a prerequisite that you hate your job and/or co-workers.

Riveting research gets a little stifled by the author’s pride.

17 people found this helpful.
 on January 23, 2015
By Simple Citizen
Did you know Shawn Achor went to Harvard?

A great book to get you started on the power of positive psychology

4 people found this helpful.
 on December 26, 2012
By J. Schulte
We succeed because we are happy, not that we are happy because we succeed. A positive outlook and optimism helps us be more effective, creative and impactful. Being optimistic and happy is a learnable skill. This book presents the evidence and science behind the power of positive thinking, and provides seven principles to help guide the reader to a more positive outlook.

Happiness found in the book, seller, and my life after all…

2 people found this helpful.
 on February 28, 2015
By Sabby in Seattle
By a random fluke I caught an episode of Live Kathy & Michael episode, Shawn Achor was scheduled to appear but his presentation was cut short as they ran out of time. Not inducing happiness. But I found his energy so uplifting I went to the tv show live website where they promised to give him more time.

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.