2 Sentence Summary
Shawn Anchor in his book “The Happiness Advantage” explains how to use the brain to improve productivity and performance through positivity. It covers topics related to success, productivity & performance.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 272 pages
First Published in: 2010
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
Chapter 1 – The Happiness Advantage
“The Happiness Advantage” theory by Shawn Achor suggests that happiness is crucial for success. Instead of working hard to be happy, people should focus on being satisfied with their current situation in order to achieve their goals.
This idea may challenge the traditional belief that hard work leads to success. However, the principle does not diminish the importance of a strong work ethic. Instead, it argues that a person’s work ethic can be optimized when they are happy with their job.
The theory also suggests that those who focus on positivity and happiness have an advantage over those who simply wait for happiness to come from their work. By embracing positivity, people can improve their performance and increase their chances of success.
Chapter 2 – The Fulcrum & The Leverdictate
According to Archimedes, a person can move the world with the right mindset and belief. The mindset acts as a fulcrum, while the belief acts as a lever. By shifting the mindset and extending belief in what is possible, a person can magnify their ability to create what originally seemed impossible.
This is because the expectation of an event causes the same neurons to fire as if the event were actually taking place. This triggers a series of events in the nervous system that leads to physical consequences.
Therefore, we can dictate our happiness by recognizing roadblocks and identifying how to overcome them. Once the path to success is defined, it becomes easier to provoke change.
Chapter 3 – The Tetris Effect
The Tetris Effect is the brain’s natural tendency to scan for positive and negative outcomes. Like Tetris, our minds try to find the best fit based on our understanding of the situation. However, our brains can get stuck looking for only positive or only negative results based on past experiences.
To combat negativity, Shawn Achor suggests ending each day by looking for positive experiences. By training our brains to actively seek out positive outcomes, we can recognize possibilities and workarounds that we may have initially missed.
Chapter 4 – Falling Up
After a crisis or adversity, our minds map out three paths. One path keeps us stuck where we currently are, while another leads to further negative consequences. The Third Path, however, leads us from failure or setback to a place where we are even stronger than before.
Studies show that if we see failure as an opportunity for growth, we are more likely to experience growth. By scanning for positive opportunities and rejecting the belief that setbacks only lead to further downward spirals, we give ourselves the power to move up because of setbacks, not despite them.
Chapter 5 – The Zorro Circle
We find the best solutions when we can think clearly and creatively. However, during times of crisis, logic often goes out the window. The Zorro Circle represents our “circle of control”. When things are out of control, we can refocus on small, manageable goals and gradually expand our circle as we rebuild our confidence and control.
Experiments show that when people are distressed, the quickest to recover are those who can identify and put their feelings into words. By tackling one small challenge at a time, we can slowly expand our circle and realize that our actions do have a direct effect on our outcomes. We are largely the masters of our own fates.
Chapter 6 – The 20-Second Rule
The 20-second rule is a simple way to help you stick to your goals. All you have to do is remove any obstacles that might stop you from reaching your goal. Then, make it easy to take the next step toward achieving your goal.
To form new habits, you need to make them easy to do. And to break bad habits, you need to make them harder to do. By lowering the “activation energy” for good habits and raising it for bad habits, you can start making positive changes in your life.
Rules are especially helpful when you’re just starting out with a new habit. As you get used to the new habit, you can start to be more flexible.
Chapter 7 – Social Investment
Having strong social support makes us happier. In fact, when successful professionals were asked about their motivations, they said work friendships were more important than financial gain or individual status.
Shelly Gable, a leading psychologist at the University of California, has found that there are four different ways we can respond to someone’s good news. Only one of these responses is positive for the relationship. The winning response is both active and constructive. It offers enthusiastic support and follows up with specific comments and questions.
Interestingly, Gable’s research shows that passive responses to good news (e.g. “That’s nice.”) can be just as harmful to the relationship as negative ones (e.g. “You got the promotion? I’m surprised they didn’t give it to Sally, she seems more suited to the job.”) So, be sure to respond to good news in a way that supports and strengthens your relationships.