The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor: Overview

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What can you learn from The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor? What are the key points?

Most people think that happiness comes after success, and that success comes after hard work. But we’ve had the equation all wrong: Happiness isn’t the result of success—it’s the cause of it. In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor introduces his formula for success, based on research in neuroscience and the relatively new field of positive psychology.

Keep reading for an overview of The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor offers insight as a leading expert on the connection between happiness and performance, an author of multiple books on the topic, and the founder of a research and consulting firm that optimizes people’s achievement through positive psychology. 

Using research and personal anecdotes, Achor covers the following seven principles in this book: 

  1. Reap the benefits of happiness: Happiness promotes productivity and success, and employers and managers can use these principles to achieve results in the workplace. 
  2. Leverage the power of a positive mindset: Your mindset affects your efforts and your actions.
  3. Train your brain to see the positive: When you develop a positive thinking pattern, you program your brain to focus on the positive and optimize the benefits of positivity. 
  4. Learn and grow through adversity: Adversity is inevitable, but, if you stay positive during challenging times, you will not only carry on, but also learn and grow through the process. 
  5. Stay in control through incremental achievements: Focus on small, manageable goals to keep you in control and build your confidence and motivation.
  6. Create positive habits: Maintain healthy behaviors by turning them into habits.
  7. Optimize the benefits of social connections: Social support raises your happiness and productivity.

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shows how happiness encompasses many advantages, including: 

  • Improved creativity 
  • Stronger relationships 
  • Better health
  • Increased energy

These benefits raise the quality of your personal life, and they also optimize your success at work. The principles of the Happiness Advantage have brought positive results even in the most stressful environments, including among big bank employees in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Whether your circumstances make it hard to be happy or you naturally have a lower happiness baseline, the seven principles explain how to be more positive and why it’s so essential to your success. 

Conclusion: Your Happiness Is Contagious

So, what does Shawn Achor conclude in The Happiness Advantage? The principles of the Happiness Advantage work in concert, meaning a little positivity snowballs to create even greater benefits. For example, when you train your brain to see the positive (Principle #3), you’ll see more opportunity for growth when faced with adversity, thus you’ll be better positioned to fall up, or find the Third Path (Principle #4). The more you implement the principles of the Happiness Advantage, the more your efforts will reinforce each other and create a virtuous cycle of positivity and success.

Additionally, your happiness creates ripple effects that benefit the people around you. Just one positive person on a team unwittingly infects her colleagues with positivity, which increases their individual performances as well as the collaboration and success of the group as a whole. In fact, emotional contagion is so strong that each workplace develops a distinct group emotion, or “group affective tone,” which creates emotion norms that are reflected in the office culture and behavior. For example, a company with an optimistic emotion norm will likely greet challenges with more confidence and enthusiasm than an office with a more negative norm. 

From entry-level employees to C-suite executives, anyone can use the principles we’ve described to raise their happiness baseline, and the positive effects will inevitably spread to the people around them. You have the power to be happier and more successful and to make the people around you happier and more successful, as well. 

This overview of The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor covers the key points of the book. Read our complete summary for an in-depth guide to these ideas.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor: Overview

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Shawn Achor's "The Happiness Advantage" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Happiness Advantage summary:

  • How happiness isn’t the result of success, it’s the cause of it
  • The benefits of happiness—from increased creativity to improved health
  • Strategies for adopting a positive mindset and raising your happiness baseline

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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