Book Review – The Happiness Advantage

Book Review – The Happiness Advantage

So many books to read on happiness and positive psychology; so little time to read them; and so few worth making the time to read.

But this one is worth making time for!

For those of you who’re well read in the positive psychology domain, and for those of you who’ve read at least some of the self-help or popular happiness books of the last few years, it has to be said that there’s not a lot you’ll learn from this; although you will learn something and you will, I’m pretty sure, enjoy the reading and learning.

Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage” may not break new ground in terms of radically new theory or earth shattering revelations but it does do a tremendous job of covering pretty much all of the recent research in this area in an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable way. It’s easy to read and as noted above, well worth reading if you’re new to this space or if you want a great review of the main principles.

Another point to note is that it is focused more on organisational contexts and work related scenarios. This may be a pro or a con, depending on where you come from, but even still, the core components of his “program” are relevant to any area of life, whether you’re a manager or not.

In short, Achor espouses “seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work” (and, I’d add, happiness). These seven principles include…

  1. The happiness advantage: or the power of positivity

  2. The fulcrum and the lever: or how to utilise a positive mindset

  3. The tetris effect: or how to ensure you focus on what’s helpful

  4. Falling up: or using failure and setbacks to “bounce forward” and grow

  5. The Zorro circle: or narrowing your locus of control so you can broaden your success and levels of motivation

  6. The 20 second rule: or how to make happiness and success as easy as possible

  7. And social investment: or remembering that you don’t have to do it all on your own but rather, you can (and should) build positive social support networks around you

It’s difficult to capture the flavour of Achor’s book in this short review because although he adroitly summarises pretty much all of the relevant research from the last decade or so he also, quite beautifully at times, brings this to life with real examples from his personal experience as well as wonderfully relevant case studies from companies and individuals with whom he’s worked.

In short, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who (1) is new to the study of happiness and positive psychology, especially in the workplace, (2) enjoys reading and learning more about this area even if they’re already familiar with the key constructs and/or (3) just wants a well written and practical re-cap!