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The Happiness Advantage. By Shawn Achor.


  • You’ve probably heard the oft told story of the two shoe salesman who were sent to Africa in the early 1900’s to assess opportunities. They wired separate telegrams back to their boss. One read: “situation hopeless. They don’t wear shoes.” The other read: “Glorious opportunity! They don’t have any shoes yet.”

  • Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance.





















  • The most successful people, in work and in life, are those who have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”, the belief that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes. People with an external locus, on the other hand, are more likely to see daily events as dictated by external forces.

  • Humans are biologically prone to habit, and it is because we are “mere bundles of habits” that we are able to automatically perform many of our daily tasks—from brushing out teeth first thing in the morning to setting the alarm before climbing into bed at night.

  • If we want to create lasting change, we should “make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.” Habits are like financial capital—forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.

  • Every day, before he walked through the conference room doors, he had to think of one employee he could thank for something. Then, the second rule was: Before he started the meeting and anything else could get in the way, he had to publicly thank that person. A simple sentence would do, and then he could move on to the rest of the meeting as planned.

  • A popular manager at a top 100 law firm once told me that he set out to learn one new thing about a co-worker each day, which he would then reference in later conversation.

  • The power to spark positive emotional contagion multiplies if you are in a leadership position. Studies have found that when leaders are in a positive mood, their employees are more likely to be in a positive mood themselves, to exhibit pro-social helping behaviors toward one another and to coordinate tasks more efficiently and with less effort.












  • Managers who provide frequent recognition and encouragement see a substantial increase in their employee’s productivity and results.

  • Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world Archimedes

  • Our power to maximize our potential is based on two important things:

    • The length of our lever: how much potential power and possibility we believe we have

    • The position of our fulcrum: the mindset with which we generate the power to change

      • Fixed mindset: we are who we are and we can’t change

      • Growth mindset: we have enormous potential to grow, learn, stretch

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: just as your mindset about work affects your performance, so too does your mindset about your own ability. The more you believe in your own ability to succeed; the more likely it is that you will.

  • People act as we expect them to act, which means that a leader’s expectation about what he thinks will motivate his employees often end up coming true.

  • What identity are you wearing today? If you’re supporting self-doubt, you’ve undercut your performance before you even begin. So when faced with a difficult task or challenge, give yourself an immediate competitive advantage by focusing on all the reasons you will succeed, rather than fail. Remind yourself of the relevant skills you have, rather than those you lack. Think of a time you have been in similar circumstances in the past and performed well. Years of research have shown that a specific concerted focus on your strengths during a difficult task produces the best results.


  • Every Monday, ask yourself these 3 questions:

    • Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?

    • Do I believe that my employees want to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?

    • How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?

  • Consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to depressed, anxious, or lonely.

  • Gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes.

  • Expecting positive outcomes actually makes them more likely to arise.

  • The best way to kick start this is to start making a daily list of the good things in your job, your career, and your life. Write down 3 good things that happened today.

  • What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

  • Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but some people are able to make the best out of things that happen.

  • The most successful people see adversity not as a stumbling block, but as stepping stones to greatness. Indeed, early failure is often the fuel for the very ideas that eventually transform industries, make record profits, and reinvent careers.

  • Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. Robert Kennedy

  • Many venture capitalists will only hire managers who have already experience their share of business flops. A spotless resume is not nearly as promising as one that showcases defeat and growth. So instead of putting a wall around a failure as if it’s radioactive one consultant explains, companies should be having failure parties.

The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work

Author: Shawn Achor

236 pages


  • Key question the book answers: Does happiness come before success or success before happiness?

  • Answer: science & data proves; happiness before success

  • Happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result

  • Happiness and optimism actually fuel performance

  • Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%

  • Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.

  • When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.

  • The science of happiness by Martin Seligman; three measurable components of happiness; pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Meaning is most lasting.

  • Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.

  • 10 most common positive emotions; joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.

  • More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success. This isn’t just because fun is, well, fun. It’s because fun also leads to bottom line results. Richard Branson

  • Scientists once thought happiness was almost completely hereditary (dictated by a genetically determined “set point”). But thankfully, they have since discovered that in fact we have far more control over our own emotional well-being than previously believed. While we each have a happiness baseline that we fluctuate around on a daily basis, with concerted effort, we can raise that baseline permanently so that even when we are going up and down, we are doing so at a higher level.

  • Proven ways we can raise our level of happiness:

    • Meditate: take just 5 minutes a day to watch your breath go in and out.

    • Find something to look forward to: often the most enjoyable part of an activity is the anticipation. Put the vacation on the calendar and remind yourself about it often.


  • Commit conscious acts of kindness

  • Infuse positivity into your surroundings: make time to go out on a nice day

  • Exercise

  • Spend money (but not on stuff): spending money on experiences, especially ones with other people, produces positive emotions that are both more meaningful and more lasting.

  • Exercise a signature strength

Fuel Performance 


If we want to create lasting change, we should “make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.” Habits are like financial capital—forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.

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