About the Happiness Advantage

Type: Article
Topics: Leadership Development, School Administrator Magazine

September 01, 2016

Our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard, we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy.

If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds or raise our test scores, then happiness will follow. However, recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward.

Rather, happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive at work and in the classroom.

Reprogramming Brains

This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, organizational management and educational studies, as well as the bottom lines of proprietary groups around the globe. In The Happiness Advantage, best-selling author and positive psychology expert Shawn Achor (who spent a decade researching and lecturing at Harvard University) draws on his own research in 42 countries — including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard — to fix this broken formula. We can reprogram our brains to become more positive to improve our performance and maximize our potential edge at work and in education, including our classrooms and communities.

Among the principles Achor outlines are:

 The Tetris Effect: how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility so we can see and seize opportunities wherever we look.

 The Zorro Circle: how to channel our efforts on small, manageable goals, to gain the leverage to gradually conquer bigger and bigger ones.

 Social Investment: how to reap the dividends of investing in one of the greatest predictors of success and happiness — our social support network.

Personal Discoveries

To create a culture of adaptive, proactive leaders at all levels, the power of positive is among the biggest learning opportunities available to create and sustain success. In short, I have made these personal discoveries by investing in this work: (1) Happy is a choice; (2) Happiness spreads; and (3) Happiness is an advantage.


Joel Pedersen