The Happiness Advantage

Happiness makes you successful not the other way around. (((MIC DROP!))) I should have just written this book myself as it is a seemingly obvious concept. But, it is so much more than just that. (And please, don’t be offended Shawn Achor. I’m one of your biggest fans.)

In September, I started reading this book as part of a committee I am on at the school where I teach. I’m usually not a fan of forced, professional reading. Maybe my honesty is a bit salty. This book exceeded all my expectations and really is something that every person should read.

I am naturally a happy person. My mother used to call me “happy-go-lucky” as a kid. There are countless videos of me bouncing off the walls laughing, smiling, and just loving life. I’m still the same way. I bounce down the hallways at school proclaiming, “Good Morning!” to anyone who will make eye contact. (And even those who don’t.) That is who I am- no faking it. I am the person who moves at lightning speed from place to place, always smiling. I smile, because I am generally happy. I feel blessed to live the life that I do. (A life that is beautiful, but- by no means, perfect.)

I need to quote Shawn Achor, because, quite frankly- his words are life-changing: “When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive. This discovery has been repeatedly supported by research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the world.”

Cue 2016, please. The most challenging year of my life. This was the year that I lived, I loved, I lost, and then eventually I gained. I gained compassion for myself and the confidence to do what I needed to do in order to be happy. I grew as a person more than I knew possible. There were so many factors that contributed to this being a monumental year in my life, but I won’t get into that now. What I will say is this- I wish I read this book then, because it would have reiterated what I already knew to be true- happiness is everything. Happiness will get you through incredibly difficult times. Feelings are real. By no means am I saying that you should go through life with rose-colored glasses on. Some of us have incredibly horrific, unfair things happening right now. Please don’t mistake this post as a “rah-rah just be happy” type thing. You have every right to feel how you feel- angry, negative, sad, resentful, etc. Feelings are real and sometimes it is just impossible to find the happiness. I will say this- The Happiness Advantage empowered me. It made my reflect on 2016 and say, “I weathered that storm the best I could.” I had days where I felt worn down and physically sick, but I always approached those days with an exterior smile- that’s my coping mechanism. I’m lucky that this storm only lasted a year as some people deal with their storm much longer. If you’re in the midst of something, please know that you’re in my prayers.

Anyways, I’m back from my incredibly long tangent to break down the Seven Principles outlined in The Happiness Advantage:

1 The Happiness Advantage

Positive brains have a biological advantage. (It’s been proven in countless studies) Surround yourself with people who will fuel you to be positive. Not so challenging! For me, the challenging thing is this- ridding yourself of those who are negative.

2 The Fulcrum and Lever

Our mindset is the fulcrum, and our power is the level. This is constantly changing.

3 The Tetris Effect

Sometimes our brains can get stuck in a negative place. This fuels us to focus on stress, negativity, and then we set ourselves up to fail. Has anyone else been there, or am I the only one?

4 Falling Up

This is where our brains map paths to help us cope. This should make us feel empowered, strong, and resilient.

5 The Zorro Circle

Has your brain ever gotten hijacked and overwhelmed by negative emotions? This principle focuses on regaining control when we feel overwhelmed or like we have lost total control.

6 The 20-Second Rule

This principle focuses on willpower. At the end of the day, willpower often fails. How can we take the seemingly impossible and break it into manageable, sustainable tasks.

7 Social Investment

This principle is all about investing in your social support network in positive ways.

This book is all about how these seven principles helped Harvard students overcome obstacles and change bad habits. (Gasp! So impressed! Ivy Leaguers are into this!) Putting sarcasm aside, there is something in this book for everyone. I would love to know your thoughts on this book.

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xoxo Laura