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What We're Reading Now

11 April 2011

Rachel found herself smiling many times while reading The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor. For such a long and serious-sounding subtitle, the book makes a fairly simple point — happiness matters.

Tags: happiness

If we've ever had occasion to meet and chat for a while, you might venture a guess that I'm an optimist at heart; at times, I've even been accused of being a bit of a Pollyanna. Fortunately for me, lately there's been a groundswell of support from the collective unconscious and the scientific powers that be. We can now say fairly definitely that all those smiles and giggles and warm feelings aren't just frivolous fun or nice to have, but rather that they're critical ingredients to health, success and longevity. More significantly, now we not only have the proof that happiness matters, but we're learning more and more about how to create it.

In the twelve years since the American Psychology Association officially recognized 'positive psychology' as an area of study, there has been nearly explosive growth in the scientific and academic study of happiness. Meanwhile, medical research has explored the crevices of the mind, discovering the secrets of neural plasticity and shedding light on how we learn and change and grow throughout our lives. The Happiness Advantage takes all that goodness and examines what it has to do with the world of work.

Through compelling stories and pleasantly digestible summaries of scientific research, Achor, a former Harvard professor, challenges the age-old theory that success begets happiness and turns it on its head. Not only does happiness lead to success, he writes, but it also leads to better performance at work in pretty much every dimension: higher sales, improved engagement, reduced sick days, better retention, increased pay, more resilience, greater creativity. Happiness is a habit formed when people start looking for positive patterns and practice seeing opportunity in the midst of setbacks.

Make no mistake — happiness can be hard work, requiring discipline, practice and a little leap of faith. The Happiness Advantage provides some of the tactical advice you'll want for that journey and a good boost of inspiration to remind you that the effort is worth it. Stay tuned in the months to come for more resources to fill your happiness toolbox. There's good stuff ahead.



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