The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work
Through this book, Shawn Achor has tried to explain how happiness is necessary for every stage of our lives. Happiness invites positive energy, and positivity leads to a healthier life. Psychological studies state that a positive brain has a biological advantage over a brain with negative or neutral thoughts. "The Happiness Advantage" encourages you to break the barriers of mediocrity and seize every opportunity that presents itself with the following three principles:
1. The Positive Psychology
2. The Seven Principles
3. The Ripple effect
- The Positive Psychology
Learn about positive psychology and its importance with the following points:
i. Introduction to positive psychology
ii. Discover the Happiness Advantage
iii. The Happiness Advantage at work
iv. Change is Possible
i.Introduction to positive psychology:
Achor has a firm belief in positive psychology. He compared traditional psychology with positive psychology to prove a point - happiness results from the hard work we put in and our journey to achieve it. Happiness and positivity lead to success and not the other way around. To become successful, you have to be truly happy first.
Positive thinking is a powerful force. The power of positive thinking makes you more open-minded and helps you inculcate new behavior and changes in the mindset. Many people find it hard to change their opinions about some things, for which they experience suffering and pain. A positive mind is always keen to learn about a different perspective which helps it grow.
ii. Discover the Happiness Advantage:
Happiness is a feeling of joy, well-being, and accomplishment. Happiness advantage is a concept of psychology that tries to connect personal happiness with professional success. Achor discovered the idea of happiness advantage during his 12 years at Harvard as a freshman proctor and teaching assistant. He noticed a significant difference between the successful and the average students. The successful students were happy and hence eager to learn with a positive mind. On the other hand, the average ones got discouraged at every setback, which resulted in them taking a negative approach towards their teachers and the curriculum. Positive thinking is not just thinking about the good stuff but acknowledging our past mistakes and learning from them.
iii. The Happiness Advantage at Work:
Traditional psychology says that success brings happiness and convinces people to work as hard as possible to become successful. Achor believes that the formula of traditional psychology is broken and unhelpful. Achor suggests putting happiness first and success second, whereas the majority of us tend to do the opposite.
A stressed brain is the most unproductive. Happiness and positivity help us to be most productive. If you are not happy with your profession or the career path you chose, you will never succeed as you will not give your hundred percent to it. And even if you do succeed, you will never be satisfied with it. First, make sure your decisions bring you happiness, then success will come automatically. The happiness advantage is not about the assumption that we do not need to change; it is the belief that we can.
iv. Change is Possible:
Keeping a rigid attitude and being resistant to change is never helpful. A person who socializes with others is more likely to be successful than an introverted person. The reasons being:
- Listening to different views and ideas makes you more open-minded and knowledgeable.
- Socializing even reduces stress and depression that helps in increasing efficiency and productivity.
A risk-taking attitude is essential. A person who always strives to reduce his risks finds himself stuck in mediocrity for eternity. To be unique and extraordinary, you have to think outside the box. People who put their heads down and await work to bring eventual happiness put themselves at an enormous disadvantage. At the same time, those who maximise positivity at every chance they get, come out ahead.
2. The Seven principles
Following are the seven principles of positive psychology that help us understand the Happiness Advantage better:
i. The Happiness Advantage
ii.The Fulcrum and the Lever
iii. The Tetris Effect
iv. The Falling up
v.The Zorro Circle
vi. The 20-Second Rule
vii. Social Investment
i. The Happiness Advantage:
“Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.”
Each one of us has a different perspective on happiness. For some, reading a book can bring happiness, while for others, it resides in the company of their friends or family. Our level of happiness fluctuates throughout the day where many times, we feel down and unproductive. There are various ways we can boost our mood -
- Meditation - A 5-minute daily meditation is enough. Meditation relieves stress and makes us feel calm.
- Exercise - Any form of exercise like jogging, running, swimming, Zumba, etc., rejuvenate our mood and improve our work performance.
- Have a purpose for the day - Not having to do anything for a whole day can sound relaxing, but eventually, you will end up frustrated and unhappy. As a result, make sure you have at least one purpose for the day.
- Acts of kindness - Committing acts of kindness like feeding a stray dog, etc., provides a feeling of contentment.
- Always radiate positivity - Having a positive personality benefits us and also the people around us. Always try to keep a positive attitude.
- Avoid watching dark or negative shows - Watching too many negative shows significantly decreases our happiness level and harbors negativity. Make sure you consume them in a limited amount.
Positive thoughts and emotions release dopamine and serotonin hormones in our brain. These hormones make us feel good and increase the learning levels of the brain, which helps us organise any new information and sustain it longer. They make us more skilled at complex tasks and increase our levels of creativity.
ii.The Fulcrum and the Lever:
“Happiness isn’t lying to ourselves or turning a blind eye towards negativity, but about adjusting our brain and thoughts in such a way so that we can rise above our circumstances.”
The fulcrum is the mindset, and the lever is the power. We see and experience a lot of negativity in our life which leaves a destructive impact on us. The principle of the fulcrum and the lever teaches us how to process negative experiences and adjust our reactions towards them to maximise our potential and overcome them.
The power to maximise our potential is based on 2 things:
- Length of our lever - The length of the lever is how much potential and power we believe we have in us.
- Position of our fulcrum - Position of the fulcrum implies the mindset in which we generate the power to change. It can either be positive or negative.
To increase our potential and turn negativity into positivity, we must change the position of the fulcrum of our mindset and increase the length of its lever. It’s not the weight and the tension of the world that determines what and how much we can accomplish; it's the result of our fulcrum and lever.
iii. The Tetris Effect:
“It's not the age or what you do for a living that counts. It is the skill and the consistency.”
Constantly inspecting our surroundings for negativity is not good. It takes a toll on our creativity and increases our stress levels, lowering our motivation and productivity. Instead, if we focus on the positive things in the surroundings, we stand to gain the three most important tools - happiness, gratitude, and optimism. The best way to maintain your focus on the positive is by writing down the good things about your job, career, and life. Make it a habit to write at least three good things that happened to you that day. This way, your brain will be forced to analyse the day’s potential positives, which will lighten up your mood. The best time to do this is before going to sleep. It will help you fall asleep faster as your brain isn’t stressed or worried about tomorrow.
iv. The Falling up:
‘Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but some people can make the best out of things that happen.’
After a negative experience or any crisis, there are three mental paths we can take -
- One where you circle back to where we started. The negative experience brings no change in us.
- One which leads to further negative consequences. It makes us far worse after the negative event. This path is the reason why we are afraid of facing challenges and conflicts.
- The third path is a positive one which makes us stronger after the setback or failure caused by the negative experience. We become even more capable than before.
Studies show that if we perceive failure as an opportunity to grow, we are more likely to experience that growth. We should always look for positive opportunities by rejecting the assumption that every setback will lead to even more failure. Instead of dwelling on failure and past mistakes, learn from them and don’t look back. Setbacks and failures are a part of success.
v.The Zorro Circle:
“Small successes can add up to major achievements. All it takes is drawing that first circle in the sand.”
Studies say that control is a very crucial aspect while working or doing any task. We feel confident when we know we are in control of the task(well aware of the task). Stress starts building up when we feel incapable of completing the task. In such situations, we start losing control which in the end affects the outcome. Achor suggests breaking down the complex task into smaller tasks and gradually expanding your horizon to achieve the bigger task. It simply means tackling one small challenge at a time to avoid losing control. Psychologists state that most people who are successful in work and life have an ‘internal locus of control.’ People with an internal locus of control believe that their actions directly affect their outcomes. They believe that they control their success and failure.
vi. The 20-Second Rule:
“It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that get us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them.”
William James, a philosopher, called creating good habits “daily strokes of effort.” Habits form in conjunction with our frequent daily activities. The 20-second rule teaches you how to replace bad habits with good ones by placing bad habits in a place hard to access and the good ones on easy access. Doing this will add 20 seconds more to finding those bad habits, eventually making them less desirable and hence easier to cut out of our life. If you are on a diet, try putting your snacks somewhere out of your reach. Here are some ways you can use the 20-second rule in your life:
- Put your gym clothes beside your bed so that when you wake up, that’s the first thing you see which will make you want to go to the gym.
- Always keep a water bottle on the desk or table you work on to ensure you drink enough water.
- Keep your vitamins next to your bed, so you don’t forget to take them in the morning.
When we look at our distractions or bad habits, we are tempted to waste our time on them. The 20-second rule is the best way to overcome this. By adding 20 seconds to your day, you will gain back 2 hours.
vii. Social Investment:
“The more social support you have, the happier you are.”
Over a thousand highly successful professional women and men were interviewed to find out their biggest source of motivation. Surprisingly, all of them placed work friendships over financial gain and individual status. Organisational psychologists have found out that friendships among colleagues fuel their performance in work significantly. Maintaining a healthy and friendly environment in an office is very important.
Also, the most successful people are the ones that invest in their family, friends, and loved ones. The kind of environment that surrounds you has a major impact on your performance. A good social support system is the key to acquire excellence and success.
3. The Ripple Effect
Learn how to create and radiate positivity around you:
i. Spreading the Happiness Advantage at work, home, and beyond
i. Spreading the Happiness Advantage at work, home, and beyond:
Our level of happiness depends a lot on our emotions too. Positive emotions generate positive energy and happiness. The happier you are in a specific environment - be it your house or workplace - the happier people around you will be. Happiness is very contagious, and so are positive emotions. Even the smallest moments of joy in the workplace can enhance efficiency and productivity in you and your co-workers. You can be in control of every aspect of your life by just learning how to be happy.