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The Happiness Advantage: Book Review & Insights

When I read The Happiness Advantage I was so eager to share what I was reading that I immediately made a video and started sharing what I could with my Facebook fans.  To say that I enjoyed this book is an understatement; I thought it was awesome!

The author, Shawn Achor, does a great job of interspersing research and facts with humor and real-world stories to explain each of the 7 Principles of Happiness he presents.  Before I started writing this review I started reading another book and it became so clear to me how easy a read The Happiness Advantage was; the stories and his naturally smooth writing style helped make it digestible and enjoyable.


What is The Happiness Advantage About?

What you think you become, what you feel, you attract, what you imagine, you create.If you ask me, the Happiness Advantage is a natural result of the many years of research and fact-finding Shawn Achor did while as a student and professor at Harvard.  He went on to develop and began sharing his 7 principles of happiness which leads to greater  performance and success to Fortune 500 companies.  He worked as a consultant traveling around the world teaching top executives how to boost their bottom line by learning what makes employees happier. He’s even shared his insights with TED audiences.

You see, the Happiness Advantage is essentially about turning the old paradigm of, “Work hard to be successful and then you’ll be happy” into “Get happy and then you’ll be more successful.

Achor shares study after study in the beginning of the book that reinforce that the happier we are the wealthier, healthier and higher performing we are.  While this book is primarily focused on how to be a more successful employee, manager or business owner, the underlying messages relate to all areas of life.  That’s why I love this book as a life coach who helps facilitate people thriving in their lives. Get happy!

The 7 Principles of the Happiness Advantage

I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.It’s so clean and convenient when a presenter or author summarizes their work in a nice little package of tips or secrets; in Achor’s case it’s The 7 Principles of Happiness.  As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed what I got out of this book, so I will be publishing a series of posts about the seven principles and will link them here when complete.  Below are my summaries of each of the 7 Principles of Happiness:

Principle #1 – The Happiness Advantage – success doesn’t lead to happy but happy leads to success, using positive psychology really can help us be happier now and ultimately that will carry through in our health, performance at work and in our relationships.

Principle #2 – The Fulcrum and the Lever – by moving the fulcrum (our mindset) in a positive direction we can access a lot more power from the lever.

Principle #3 – Tetris Effect – we can train ourselves to see opportunity and positive experiences in our environment instead of the negative with practice which allows us to act and seize opportunities.

Principle #4 – Falling Up – we have the opportunity to take three paths in every situation; same as before, go into negative/retract or “fall up” and grow from the experience. Positively minded people actually improve after major life setbacks.

Principle #5 – Zorro Circle – when faced with a crisis or threat we can maintain control of our emotions by focusing on manageable, small goals that we can handle now and then grow our circle outward as we gain confidence and feel more powerful.

Principle #6 – 20 Second Rule – when forming new habits or stopping old ones it’s a good rule of thumb to reduce the “activation energy” which are any steps we can take to make the habit easier OR harder to complete – depending upon whether we want to start or stop a habit.

Principle #7 – Social Investment – social support networks are the most important things in life and if we want to be happier and more successful investing in our relationships at work, at home and community are the most impact factor we can focus on.

In general, what you’ll learn from these additional posts, if you choose to read them, are more in-depth ways that you can cultivate happiness and therefore improve your performance in all areas of your life. I hope you’ll dive in and get started!

Big Take Aways from The Happiness Advantage

There is so much good stuff in this book I felt I wanted to create a series of posts for you.  To summarize some of the yummy quotes, here are some big take aways:

Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.

Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.

The most successful people, the ones with the competitive edge, don’t look to happiness as some distant reward for their achievements, nor grind through their days on neutral or negative; they are the ones who capitalize on the positive and reap the rewards at every turn.

Aristotle used: eudaemonia, which translates not directly to “happiness” but to “human flourishing.”

What I mean is that the more you believe in your ability to succeed, the more likely it is that you will.

What we expect from people (and from ourselves) manifests itself in the words we use, and those words can have a powerful effect on end results.

…if we are able to conceive of a failure as an opportunity for growth, we are all the more likely to experience that growth.

The most successful people see adversity not as a stumbling block, but as a stepping-stone to greatness.

Small successes can add up to major achievements.

We are mere ‘bundles of habits.’

The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets.


Re: activation energy – …the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction.  The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit.

“70 years of evidence that our relationships with other people matter, and matter more than anything else in the world.”

Learn more by starting with Principle #1 – The Happiness Advantage

With love and light,


Happiness Advantage Book