The Happiness Advantage

Do you feel you could be happier and more productive at work?  Are you interested in maximizing your happiness potential?  Do you have 12 minutes and 21 seconds to watch a TED Talk video based on a book which describes ways to achieve, “The Happiness Advantage – how happiness gives your brain – and your organization – the competitive advantage?”(Achor, 37)  If yes, please read on.

Shawn Achor in his humorously written book, The Happiness Advantage, discusses simple proven actions you can put into practice to increase your positivity ultimately leading to peak work performance and increased happiness.

He says, “I started to realize just how much our interpretation of reality changes our experience of that reality.”( 7 )  By changing how your brain processes the world around you, you change the affect the world has on you.

“Seven principles of the Happiness Advantage.

The Happiness Advantage – because positive brains have a biological advantage over  brains that are neutral or negative, this principle teaches us how to retrain our brains to capitalize on positivity and improve our productivity and performance.

The Fulcrum and the Lever – how we experience the world, and our ability to succeed within it, constantly changes based on our mindset.  This principle teaches us how we can adjust our mindset (our fulcrum) in a way that gives us the power (the lever) to be more fulfilled and successful.

The Tetris Effect – when our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail.  This principle teaches us how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see- and seize – opportunity wherever we look.

Falling Up – in the midst of defeat, stress, and crisis, our brains map different paths to help us cope.  This principle is about finding the mental path that not only leads us up out of failure or suffering, but teaches us to be happier and more successful because of it.

The Zorro Circle – when challenges loom and we get overwhelmed, our rational brains can get hijacked by emotions.  This principle teaches us how to regain control by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve bigger and bigger ones.

The 20-Second Rule– sustaining lasting change often feels impossible because our willpower is limited.  And when willpower fails, we fall back on our old habits and succumb to the path of least resistance.  This principle shows how, by making small energy adjustments, we can reroute the path of least resistance and replace bad habits with good ones.

Social Investment– in the midst of challenges and stress, some people choose to hunker down and retreat within themselves.  But the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward.  This principle teaches us how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence- our social support network.” (18-19)

Applying the seven principles reverses the old formula for happiness and success, – If I work harder and achieve X status, I’ll be more successful.  But when you achieve X status you’re not satisfied with your success pushing the accomplishments benchmark forward therefore delaying your gratification for achieved satisfaction and happiness.  Positivity in the present, helps the brain function better.  Positivity and happiness stimulates dopamine which turns on the brains learning center increasing productivity, optimism and innovation.  Training your brain to focus on opportunities and strengths rather than weaknesses and challenges, promotes ripples of positivity leading to peak performance.  (Achor, Ted Talk)

TED Talk Video: The Happy Secrets to Better Work

“Follow these practices for 21 days to rewire your brain to adapt to the world around you in a different manner creating lasting results for positive change.” (Achor,

  • 3 Gratitude’s – “Writing down 3 new things you’re grateful for daily – brain retrains a pattern to scan for the positives vs. negatives.”
  • Journaling– “Writing about  one positive experience you had within last 24 hours forces your brain to relive the positive experience.”
  • Exercise – “Teaches brain that your behavior matters”
  • Meditation – “Overcome cultural ADHD through multi-tasking. Focus on task at hand.”
  • Random acts of kindness – “…send one email praising or thanking someone in your social support network.” ” …expressions of gratitude at work have been proven to strengthen both personal and professional bonds.” (Achor, (195)



 Achor, Shawn. The Happiness Advantage, The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work. New York: Crown Business, 2010. Print

 TED Ideas Worth Sharing. “Shawn Achor: The Happy Secrets to Better Work.” May 2011.

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