Book Review: The Happiness Advantage

In Book Reviews by Antwuan Malone

Author: Shawn Achor
Review by: Antwuan Malone

Quick Take:

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work almost feels like a self-help, “the power is within you,” kind of book. And maybe it is. But reading it was very helpful. Shawn proposes that happiness is not the product of success, but that success is the product of happiness. He’s humorous, informative and practical. If you’re having a tough time with your work environment, your home life, or just about any else, this book has something for you. Recommended!

The Skinny:

We all believe happiness is just around the corner. If we just do this thing or have that thing, then we could finally be happy. We believe success is one of those mythical catalysts to happiness. Shawn Achor flips our thinking by positioning success as the product of happiness, not the other way around. In other other words, we succeed because we are happy, we don’t get happy after success.

While the book title promises to fuel performance at work, most of the principles and practices apply to multiple areas in one’s life. The Happiness Advantage is the secret to a better everything, it seems. Better work, better health, and better relationships. I’ve been interested in honing my leadership skills, and there was a lot here to help me grow in that area, which was a pleasant surprise. Turns out happiness, and developing a culture that promotes gratitude and appreciation of the small and big wins in the day, creates more productive and loyal human resources.

Shawn’s whimsical writing style makes the content easy to digest, which is precisely what it needs to be if you’re a disgruntled employee looking to find a way to be a better worker. The read is light and easy, with enough stories to keep the “rake the leaves” reader delighted, and enough notes and references to give the “dig for gold” reader a good start into further research.

I’ve added this book to my list of books to read with a future team I will lead. For the practical advice he gives alone, it’s worth your time.

Favorite Quotes:

“Thanks to this cutting-edge science, we now know that happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result. And that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement—giving us the competitive edge that I call the Happiness Advantage.”

“Remember, happiness is not just a mood—it’s a work ethic.”

“I often recommend that they keep one thing in mind: the number 2.9013. This may seem random, but a decade of research on high and low performance teams by psychologist and business consultant Marcial Losada shows just how important it is.47 Based on Losada’s extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful. This means that it takes about three positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative.”

“So if you are a leader, whether of 3 people or 300, remember that the power to affect results rests not just in who’s on your team, but how you leverage your team. Every Monday, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?; (2) Do I believe that my employees want to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?; and (3) How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?”

“Focusing on the good isn’t just about overcoming our inner grump to see the glass half full. It’s about opening our minds to the ideas and opportunities that will help us be more productive, effective, and successful at work and in life.”

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The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
Shawn proposes that happiness is not the product of success, but that success is the product of happiness. He’s humorous, informative and practical. If you’re having a tough time with your work environment, your home life, or just about any other sphere in your life, this book just might have something for you. Recommended!

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.