Happier people are more successful

This week I completely devoured the book The happiness advantage by Shawn Anchor. I discovered this book at the end of an article that Ashley Hunsberger retweeted.

Shawn is very entertaining and injects humour into the storytelling and it is crammed with psychology and neuroscience studies. This is why I enjoyed reading it. It is based on facts. You can’t shy away from the evidence that points to the hypothesis that happier people are more successful and have higher levels of achievements. The book goes over positive psychology at work, seven principles and the ripple effect.

It has given me a pause of reflection about the ideas in this book to guide me both at work leading teams and in my personal life.

A section of the book talks about positive psychology in the workplace. The below quote sums it up.

“Companies/leaders who take measures to cultivate a happy workplace have more productive and efficient workers, less absenteeism and lower healthcare expenditures.”

In the book it talks about how there are companies that allow their employees to take their dogs to work, create places of social interaction or even grab a surfboard when you feel like it and run out onto the beach. The book mentions that companies don’t do this by accident. They do it on purpose to make their employees be more creative and engage in complex problem.

“Every time employees experience a small burst of happiness they get primed for creativity and innovation”.

What does your work do to increase happiness in the workplace? At my current workplace we can take 5 days across the year to volunteer for charity. This feels good. I get to bond with my co-workers and do something for the greater good, which in turn makes me feel happier.

I’m still digesting this book, however, here are my 5 personal takeaways from this book.

  1. Everyday I’m going use a gratitude journal and write down three things that I am grateful for. I never thought that there was anything in this, however, there is science to back this up. The example in the book tells you to close your eyes for 30 seconds and think of the colour red. Now open your eyes and look around the room. What do you see? I tried this and all I noticed were the red items around the room. So with this study in my mind, if I have a positive outlook, then all I’m going to see are the positives and the challenges I come across at work and in my personal life I will see as small setbacks and temporary.
  2. Happiness is not just a mood. It’s a work ethic. It isn’t about forcing yourself to be happy. I’ll have to work at it and create habits that will stick. On the scale I do have a positive mindset, however, there are things that I could work on to create better habits. There were a handful of ideas to boost your mood that I will try and incorporate even more than I do already: meditation, find something to look forward to, commit conscious acts of kindness, infuse positivity into your surroundings, exercise, spend money (but not on stuff) and exercise a significant strength.
  3. The Zorro circle. You may have heard of Zorro, a fictional character that defends people against corrupt officials or villains. How he trained was to learn to fight within a circle and then when he got better, he could expand outside the circle. This leads onto the idea to establish a small circle of success first and then gradually expand outwards.
  4. A task that I may do is to divide a page into two sections — what’s in my control, what’s outside my control. When I realise what’s in my control, then I can stop worrying about what I can’t change and take more action on what you can change.
  5. A last thought, is that the happiness advantage can affect all of the people around you — family, friends and co-workers. There were some really interesting studies where one person could affect the entire group. So implementing the ideas in this book will only lead to my own success, but rub off onto the people around me.

Overall, this is a practical book that is backed up with science. If you want to improve your team, be more successful or simply happier, then this book is for you.



Software tester writing to process her thoughts and learnings.

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