Corporate consultant and author Shawn Achor’s bio is pretty impressive. His accolades include 12 years at Harvard, research on mindset that made the cover of the Harvard Business Review, 2 bestselling books, a TED talk that is one of the most popular of all time, work with a third of the Fortune 100, a positive psychology corporate training program that’s one of the most successful in the world, and even a 2-hour interview with Oprah. If anyone knows the secret to happiness, it’s him. He’s been studying it for a huge portion of his life. So I was curious, what is the secret?
Of course there’s not one, simple answer to that. When I finished reading Achor’s The Happiness Advantage in May there were no exclamations of, “Hey! I’m happy now! And super successful!” And even though there’s more to this philosophical question about the secret to happiness, this book does have tons of research and techniques on how to see your work and the world through different, more rose-colored glasses. Achor states that the ability to see the world in an optimistic light has the potential to lead to success, creativity, productivity, and more. Additionally, Achor rejects the idea that if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. He believes this is a broken formula and one we’ve been fed our whole lives. Happiness is the precursor to success, and he has the research to back that up.
In The Happiness Advantage, Achor mixes humor, research, and real life experiences to give the reader the tools to achieve more of what they want out of work and life. Ideas like “happiness causes success” and “change your mindset to change your performance” are scattered throughout, along with very real and usable tips on changing one’s habits. One of my favorites, and one that we encourage the team at Daylight to do, is to fill your workday with bursts of happiness - be that a game of foosball, a conversation with a coworker about last weekend’s adventure, or even a second to look at kitten videos on YouTube. These little bursts prime employees for creativity and innovation. Another factor to happiness is the importance of social support. The book states that the more you invest in your social cohesion, the better the results of your work. These and many other tips and tools are found in this bestseller.
It should come as no surprise that our society tends to focus on the negative. According to Forbes, last year 52.3% of people were unhappy at work. While we think that times and workplaces are progressing everywhere, an article like “Inside Amazon” comes out in the New York Times that depicts a cutthroat work environment and employees regularly crying at their desks. Granted, this is a journalistic perspective on Amazon, but being inundated with the worst of humanity via news and media all the time made The Happiness Advantage, and its focus on the power of positivity, a refreshing change of perspective and one that I now try to instill in my life everyday. Some other Daylighters have read the book and gave their thumbs up as well. While this book does not contain an actual secret formula to happiness, it most certainly is an enlightening read that is not just a bunch of feel-good words, but a well-researched and backed-by-science guide to changing your work and home life for the better.