The Happiness Advantage Book Summary - The Happiness Advantage Book explained in key points
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The Happiness Advantage summary

Shawn Achor

The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work

4.5 (308 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor explains how happiness can fuel success, not the other way around. The book offers research-based practices to improve well-being and boost professional and personal achievements.

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    The Happiness Advantage
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    Traditional psychology focuses on the negatives without seeing the positives.

    Traditional psychology looks at averages: are people less fulfilled than average? Less happy than average? If so, traditional psychology aims to bring people back up to what is considered the average level of happiness or fulfillment.

    In addition, traditional psychology focuses on the negative, questioning what makes people fall below average rather than what lifts them above it.

    However, the problem with this approach is that, in our obsession with averages, we ultimately can’t move beyond that point into excellence. By improving only in the areas where you are lacking, you miss out on opportunities to surpass the average.

    Consider for a moment that four out of five Harvard students suffer from depression and consider their studies to be a source of stress.

    Looking at this data, traditional psychology would consider our four Harvard students to exhibit an average level of happiness. After all, they represent the clear majority! However, in doing so, they completely miss the one anomaly: the fifth, non-depressed student!

    This is important, because one student who isn’t depressed is also the one who’s most likely to succeed – both in school and later at work.

    This realization that we should focus on positives gave birth to the field of positive psychology.

    Positive psychology investigates what it is that makes people excel, with the ultimate goal of applying that knowledge and thereby raising the average.

    So, what makes that one Harvard student succeed where the other four failed?

    After living among Harvard students for 12 years and traveling all over the world trying to figure out what lifts people above average, the author found that successful people are successful because of their specific interpretation of reality.

    For instance, his experience of students in Soweto, South Africa revealed the vast majority to be delighted with their studies as they saw schoolwork as a challenge and a privilege. Compare this with Harvard students, many of whom see school as a source of stress.

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    What is The Happiness Advantage about?

    The Happiness Advantage looks into the origins of happiness and the positive effects that happiness has on our productivity. Based on extensive research in positive psychology, the book offers concrete tips on how to increase your own happiness and thus your chances for success.

    The Happiness Advantage Review

    The Happiness Advantage (2010) reveals the profound impact of positive psychology on our happiness and success. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • Packed with research-backed strategies, it teaches practical ways to leverage positivity and improve our well-being.
    • By highlighting the link between happiness and performance, the book shows how cultivating a positive mindset can enhance productivity and resilience.
    • With its engaging anecdotes and relatable examples, the book ensures that the subject matter never becomes dull, making it an enjoyable and educational read.

    Best quote from The Happiness Advantage

    Even the smallest shots of positivity can give someone a serious competitive edge.

    —Shawn Achor
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    Who should read The Happiness Advantage?

    • Anyone who thinks happiness is the reward for hard work
    • Anyone who feels too stressed to cope
    • Anyone who could use just a little more happiness in his or her life

    About the Author

    Shawn Achor is an American author who spent 12 years at Harvard studying what makes people happy. He is a leading expert on the connection between happiness and success and has worked with successful leaders all over the world. In addition, he has written a number of New York Times best-selling books, including Before Happiness, Ripple’s Effect and The Orange Frog.

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    The Happiness Advantage FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Happiness Advantage?

    The main message of The Happiness Advantage is that happiness leads to success, not the other way around.

    How long does it take to read The Happiness Advantage?

    The reading time for The Happiness Advantage varies, but it can be read in a few hours. The Blinkist summary takes just 15 minutes.

    Is The Happiness Advantage a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Happiness Advantage is worth reading because it provides actionable strategies and scientific research on the benefits of positive psychology.

    Who is the author of The Happiness Advantage?

    The author of The Happiness Advantage is Shawn Achor.

    What to read after The Happiness Advantage?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Happiness Advantage, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Before Happiness by Shawn Achor
    • Bring Your Human to Work by Erica Keswin
    • Four Seconds by Peter Bregman
    • Quiet by Susan Cain
    • The Power of Bad by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The Wealth Money Can't Buy by Robin Sharma
    • You, Happier by Daniel G. Amen
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma