Actionable Book Summary of The Happiness Advantage

To better understand happiness, I picked up The Happiness Advantage — a book by Shawn Achor. To take that understanding of happiness one step further and put it into practice, I have identified the following action items or habits.

The action items are for each of the seven “positive psychology principles” shared in the book. I hope to put these habits into practice via journaling or personal experiments.

Principle 1 – The Happiness Advantage

Success orbits around happiness, not the other way around.

Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential. Happiness is not just the mood it’s a work ethic.

Action Items for The Happiness Advantage

  • Meditate – pray, breathe, be present, and take time to disconnect from focused state
  • Find something to look forward to – anticipating future rewards can light up pleasure centers. For example, meeting up with your friends on the weekend.
  • Commit conscious acts of kindness – greet strangers, make an effort to help others (it helps you too)
  • Infuse positivity into your surroundings – ensure that people you surround yourself with and the content you consume reinforces positivity
  • Exercise (with the belief that it is good for you) – helps with a sharp mental state and reduce negative emotions
  • Spend money not on stuff but experiences – stop spending money on only monetary things but spend it on experiences like family trips, adventure with your friends etc.
  • Use your signature strength – try to better understand your signature strenght and find ways to use it more in your work

Principle 2 – The fulcrum and the lever

Changing your performance by changing your Mindset

Every second of our experience is being interpreted by our brain. For example, when cleaning the house to socializing with your friends. Therefore, one must optimize the “mindset” to maximize the activity’s impact.

Action Items for The Fulcrum and the Lever

  • Understand and Give Meaning to (almost) all Events – when doing the dishes, helping your parents, or doing something you percieve as “unpleasant” try to focus on the positive.

Principle 3 – The Tetris Effect

Training your brain to capitalize on possibility.

Negative Tetris effect is focusing on problems and finding things to fix it. Positive tetric effect is to train your brain to scan the world for the opportunities and ideas that allow our success rate to grow (just like the tetris game).

Action Items for the Tetris Effect

Principle 4 – Falling Up

Capitalizing on the downs to build Upward Momentum

There are three paths of any situation – the same, the negative, the path up. Make a successful decision by clearly and creatively thinking about the situation.

Action Items for Falling Up

  • Capitalize on setbacks and adversity – view it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and better make decisions in the future.
  • Ensure Calm and Present Mental State – so that you view setbacks or adversity with a “falling up” (positive) state-of-mind.

Principle 5 – The Zorro Circle

Limit your focus on small, manageable, goals to expand your sphere of power

No matter what you may hear from motivational posters, coaches, and the like, reaching for the stars is a recipe for failure. Instead, start with self-awareness,then focus on things in your control and avoid things not in your control.

Action Items for the Zorro Circle

  • Break Large Goals into Mangeable Small Goals – “Don’t write a book, write a page”

Principle 6 – The 20-Second Rule

Turn bad happiness to good ones by minimizing barriers to change

Common sense is not common action so how can one maximize the chances of following through with a good habit?

Action Items for the 20-Second Rule

  • Identify and set habit loops – avoid junk food by not buying them or keeping them far away. Furthermore, make harder things easier to do. For example, having your gym bag and shoes ready so you can exercise within “20-seconds!”
  • Continously Reduce Resistance for Good Happiness (and increase resistance for Bad Happiness) – Good happiness is eating a healthy snack or reading a book that stimulates you. Bad happiness is watching TV, adult content online, or remaining sedentary.

Principle 7 – Social Investment

Social support is your single greatest asset

Action Items for Social Investment

  • Invest in Your Social Circle – Author identifies this as the “greatest investment” for your happiness advantage (principle 1 above). Thus, make an effort to maintain good relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.

 

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