Author: Victoria Cohen

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work & In Life

Our professional development book club met this month to discuss “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. Overall, our team was captivated by the lessons in this novel and synonymously agreed that happiness is in fact, the center of life, and success revolves around it.


But first things first – what even is happiness?

Happiness can be defined as human flourishing, or the joy we feel striving after our potential. 

With that in mind, here are our top three takeaways to help you tap into your own happiness advantage:

1. Focus on the positive to capitalize on opportunities 

As a society, we’ve long been conditioned that success is a precursor to happiness in all aspects of our lives – from our careers, to our relationships, to even our goals and aspirations. This novel challenged this theory – making the claim that the inverse is actually true. Those who lean towards positivity and happiness are likely to see and capitalize upon opportunities, thus leading to greater overall success in their personal and professional lives.


Below are our favorite statistics from the novel to showcase how a positive mood leads to greater success:


  • Optimistic sales professionals outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%
  • Teams with encouraging managers performed 31% better than teams with managers who were less positive and delivered less praise
  • Doctors who were primed for happiness (by simply given candy!) demonstrated 3x more intelligence and creativity in diagnosing a case than doctors in a neutral state, and they made accurate diagnoses 19x faster

2. Be grateful

“Bad” things happen to everyone, but it is truly our mindset that leads to positive and negative reactions. In reality, all events are neutral – our perception of these events is what determines our experience of the world around us. Practicing gratitude allows you to rewire your brain and see the good in almost any situation. Instead of dwelling on the effects of a conventionally  “negative” experience, happy people tend to focus on the positives – whether that’s a new opportunity following suit, knowledge gained, or even gratitude for what you do have in the situation. 

3.   Social support is your single greatest asset


“Our relationships with other people matter, and matter more than anything else in the world.” – George Valliant


In the midst of challenges and stress, the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward. Relying on our social networks in the face of adversity enables us to expand our physical, intellectual, and emotional resources – thus allowing us to overcome challenges with far less taxation on our wellbeing. Not only is social support essential to happiness in our personal lives, it is also a determining factor of our satisfaction levels and performance at work. To no surprise, those who feel connected to their team members and supported by management display higher levels of engagement, productivity, and are much more likely to stay with the company long-term. 

By shifting our mindsets to capitalize upon the positive in life, we are able to tap into the greatest advantage of all – the happiness advantage. 

Have you read The Happiness Advantage?

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