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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Having already read Tal Ben-Shahar's The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life as well as Jessica Pryce-Jones' Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, and having absorbed and digested what their authors share, I was curious to know what (if anything) new Shawn Achor could contribute to the on-going multi-logue and how well the material is organized and presented. My rating correctly indicates what I think he has accomplished. Others have their own reasons for admiring this book. Here are two of mine.

First, Achor introduces seven principles that serve as the foundation of what he characterizes as "the happiness advantage": positive brains have a significant biological advantage over brains that are neutral and an even more substantial biological advantage over brains that are negative. In fact, The Happiness Advantage" also serves as the first principle, followed by

2. The Fulcrum and the Lever: How a positive mindset (fulcrum) can leverage power to achieve success (however defined)

3. The Tetris Effect: How that same positive mindset can recognize can recognize patterns of possibility that leads to possibilities that would otherwise be missed

4. Falling Up: When experiencing a major crisis or encountering a major threat, how selecting the right mental "path" will reveal the best course of action to take

5. The Zorro Circle: When coping with crisis or threat, how to control emotions "by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve progressively bigger ones"

6. The 20-Second Rule: When willpower weakens or fails, how to make small adjustments of energy to reroute the path of least resistance with better habits and renewed willpower.

7. The Social Investment: When challenged or threatened, "how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence - our social network support."

These principles guide and inform Achor`s narrative as it proceeds to Part Three when he shares his suggestions about how to spread "the happiness advantage" at work, at home, and beyond.

I also commend Achor on his brilliant analysis of situations with which almost all of his readers can readily identify and then on his equally brilliant explanation of how to take full advantage of such situations by viewing them as opportunities rather than as threats. Almost immediately (in the Introduction, he establishes and then sustain a direct, personal, indeed conversational rapport with his reader. The tone of the narrative is enriched by a spirit I characterize as "There will definitely be some question s to answer and problems to solve but don't worry. Hey, we're in it together." Presumably the rapport that Achor establishes with his reader very closely resembles the rapport he established with Harvard students years ago. That is great news for readers, especially for those who in greatest need of what this book offers.

Almost 20 years ago in an commencement speech at Stanford and then in an article published by Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile offered the best career advice I ever heard: Love what you do and do what you love. Perhaps the greatest challenge for any company is to make certain that those who supervise its workers get what they do best and enjoy most in alignment with achieving the company's goals. Recent research studies by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and TowersWatson reveal that happy workers (i.e. who love what they do and do what they love) work harder and smarter, completing their work "faster, better, cheaper."

For business leaders in organizations of which that cannot be said now, Shawn Achor's book is a "must read."
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on 4 September 2012
Having watched the great TED talk by Shawn Achor I wanted to check out his book. I'm really glad I did. I was interested in the science more than the practical advice because I didn't feel I needed it. However, the book has reinforced my belief in habits that I already had and has added some great new ideas to try. I would recommend this book to anybody who... just anybody who can read. It's full of interesting concepts and practical ideas, backed up by research rather than anecdotes or the belief that the universe will realign if you wish hard enough.

I would highly recommend this book.
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on 2 January 2016
How many times have you read this; This book will change your life.

Ahem, well, actually this book will change your life if you let it. Building on the work of Martin Seligman at Penn State University, Shawn Achor is one of the new young turks in psychology taking the findings of positive psychology and applying them to business and everyday life. These ideas are quite revolutionary, as is the whole of positive psychology predicated as it is on using what we know about our brains to enable us to use them more effectively. Before positive psychology came along, the psychological effort of humanity was focused Eeyore like on the negative side of our mental lives, exploring all of the things that could go wrong with the complex human mind. Mental illness and psychology were basically synonyms, with the medical disciplines fetishising when brains go wrong over applying its understandings in a more balanced, life-affirming way. Positive psychology restores that balance, acknowledging that there's a lot we can do in weeding our own mental garden in a manner that means we live as happy a life as possible. In fact, the premise of Shawn's wonderful book is that - happiness doesn't follow success, it is the other way round. We are, Achor says (and he backs his assertions up with buckets of evidence and examples) more likely to be successful when we are positive and happy - up to 30% more successful - because brains in a positive state are more imaginative, responsive and flexible.

The book contains 7 basic principles which Achor calls the Happiness Advantage. He is a persuasive and entertaining writer and public speaker, his TED talk is here and as you can see his work is gaining a lot of attention (12 million hits and counting). The principles range from considering our everyday interactions with people through to re-setting our negative defaults to sift the environment for positive things that if our moods instead of simply worrying about what might or mightn't happen in the future. I have a copy of this book and also an audio-copy which I use in work and with some of the people I support.

The book is replete with fantastic insights and ideas. The 7 principles being;

1. The Happiness Advantage - Being happy gives you an edge or an advantage in terms of achieving success so happiness should be our focus, not success. Achor calls this the Copernican revolution in psychology, happiness leading to success instead of the mistaken beliefs we have about success making us happy.

2. The Fulcrum and the Lever - Re-calibrating our mental responses toward the positive will move our internal psychological fulcrum giving us much greater leverage with a brain singing with positive neurotransmitters rather than one paralysed by negativity, doubt and worry.

3. The Tetris Effect - Basically, this is neuroplasticity (the tendency of the human brain to change and adapt neural networks dependent on what we are doing) in action, we are what we repeatedly do. If we play Tetris for long enough everything block-like in the real-world can appeal to our Tetris habituated brain as a shape within the remit of the game and we can find ourselves trying to fit blocks together out in the real-world, blocks made of fences, walls, buildings or bricks just we happen to be passing. If we tip of brains response towards the positive we will see opportunity and creativity where before we might have seen challenge and stress. (On this point Kelly McGonigal in her wonderful TED talk makes a similar point.)

4. Falling Up - This is a fascinating chapter all about how we can reset our daily to defaults to maximise our happiness experiences, such pearls of wisdom here. Quick happiness wins we can all build into our daily experience to lift our subjective experience toward the positive.

5. The Zorro Circle - This is about being very clear and focused about what you want to achieve everyday and ensuring you do your very best by building the skills which enable you to achieve those daily goals.

6. The 20 Second Rule - This takes forward the examples from Principle 4 and gives many examples of how we can prime our default responses to ensure we overcome any inertia around changing bad habits, for example, if we want to jog first thing in the morning, go to bed wearing Gym clothes.

7 - Social Investment - As social animals this principle acknowledges the importance of making strong, supportive connections with others (colleagues and friends) in ensuring we maximise our happiness.

All in all one of the best development, self-help books I've read in a while. Heartily recommended and I will be spending several years implementing its suggestions in terms of leading and managing successful teams at my work-place and convincing colleagues to do the same.

***** (Five Stars)
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on 19 January 2014
This book was over too quickly! Really sound advice always followed up by experimental examples. Will be re-reading to ensure the maximum happiness advantage is gained!
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on 5 March 2015
This is a pretty good book with easy-to-implement tips for becoming happier. I think there are better books out there - Tal Ben-Shahar's "Happier" is good, and some of Paul McKenna's books are great too. The upside of this book is that it's funny, there are interesting examples, and it's all backed up with quite rigorous science. The downside is that, in my opinion, you can get the most important information from watching Shawn Achor's TED talk. Also I have to say, although this book contains a lot of good ideas, I haven't done much about them since reading it. Whereas with Rick Hanson's 'Just One Thing', which has 52 easy ideas for greater happiness, you can start them straight away, and I did. Last slight criticism - the emphasis in The Happiness Advantage is on being happier in order to be better at work and life... but I tend to think that being happier could really be an aim in itself, without it needing to be "if you're happier, you can process your emails faster". My advice is to watch the TED talk instead.
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on 24 December 2012
Having watched Shawn Achor on TED Talks I couldn't wait to read this book and it didn't disappoint. He is an amusing and informative writer. Lots of practical actions that readers can take to increase their happiness and develop the happiness habit. Useful for therapists who want to give tasks to clients.
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on 8 June 2013
This book makes good use of primary research to demonstrate how we can be trapped by our thoughts and actions. It provides simple but effective examples of how adjustments to our behaviours can improve every aspect of our lives by not seeing them as separate but connected. If you have read many self improvement books and become cynical about the messages they offer, give this book a try. You might find one thing about it that enables you to connect to yourself and others in a way that opens up a world of other possibilities in your personal and professional life.
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on 20 November 2013
I have just finished this book over a period of two days. I even noticed that I was already making positive changes after getting a good night sleep and completed things I have felt I have not had the energy to do. I do not know if I will carry on with these tasks and only time will tell but I feel positive. The book was an easy read even with all that 'science stuff' and the author is genuinely very funny and I found myself from time to time laughing out loud. I would definitely recommend this to a friend.
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on 16 May 2012
I bought this book off the back of an excellent TED talk by Shawn. I found it easy to absorb with plenty of practical examples for the points he is making. It also has plenty of scientific backing in terms of psychological/behavioural studies referenced but to me this is a little beside the point as if you search long enough you can find a study or 2 to back up most theories. To me it comes down to whether you believe in the core concepts of the book, which to me seemed to be that being happy and positive is good for you in many many ways and that for people who don't find this easy/natural, you can change. To get the most out of a book like this I think you need to read it through at least once and then revisit and reflect regularly and put as many of the principles into effect DAILY. There is little point just reading it once and then wondering why you don't feel happy and successful overnight.
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on 12 September 2013
I liked the fact that this book was heavily based on facts and research, helping persuade my 'show me the data' mind, that there really was something here that you could change, but then it also contained manageable bite size actions to help you drive he change. 3 weeks on and my inbox is still under control after years of trying, that for me alone was worth the purchase price, but I did take away a whole lot more.
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