The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, is another book in a category that has become much more popular recently: positive psychology. Psychology historically has studied human nature in order to identify and address humanity’s brokenness and negative behavior, in order to try to correct it or fix it, but the relatively new category of research in positive psychology is focused on understanding positive and successful human behavior, in order to help others replicate it. The Happiness Advantage takes that route, with the premise that our brains are hard-wired to perform at their best when they are in a positive framework.
Achor explains seven principles that can be used to develop a positive state of mind, principles that when used will not only effect our individual attitudes and performance, but those of the people around us as well. These seven principles are:
- The Happiness Advantage – developing a positive outlook
- The Fulcrum and the Lever – believing in potential
- The Tetris Effect – learning to see opportunity
- Falling Up – growing through adversity
- The Zorro Circle – learning to build on small successes
- The 20-Second Rule – small adjustments that help to change behavior
- Social Investment – cultivating relationships that enhance effectiveness
The lessons and illustrations that Achor shares are useful for shaping your mindset, learning to think about and respond to life in a way that moves you forward and helps you grow. He writes in an engaging and enjoyable style, and backs up his ideas with research. And he is right – how you think about life and circumstances has a profound effect on how you live and how you grow.
As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and this book is no exception. Positive Psychology is being viewed as a relatively new approach to understanding human behavior, but the ideas here that speak truthfully about humanity are not new; in fact, those same ideas that are true are found in the Bible, given to us by God, which provides us with an understanding of who we are, how we think, how we act, and what God intended us to be. The only difference is that the Bible points out that our nature was given to us by God and then damaged by sin, and therefore God is the most credible resource and solution for understanding and addressing the needs and issues of humanity. So, I thought it was a great book, with helpful explanations and tools, but I also believe that there are foundational principles behind the ideas that we should recognize (and that is largely why I think it is a helpful book).