Having already read Tal Ben-Shahar's The Pursuit of Perfect, Happier, and Even Happier and 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."