Book Review: The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage

In the writer’s quest to understand ourselves (and thereby avoid extinction), reading about how to improve your mood and your productivity, thus increasing the odds that you’ll get things done (even better, done well) can be useful.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor is one in a long line of positive thinking texts that go back to Samuel Smiles in the 1800s (and probably earlier).

And it’s a good read. Lots of stories, well written.

The short version:

We do better when we feel better, and not vice-versa. Being on the alert for the good lets us actually see it and act on it, which forms a loop back to happiness as we are given more opportunities to use all of talents and abilities.

In other words, You don’t get happy because you’re successful…you get more successful when you operate from a generally positive and optimistic mindset.

On the practical level, I liked the 20-second rule, which says if you want to do something regularly, make it available within 20 seconds. That is, sleep in your gym clothes. And if you want to stop doing something, make it harder to do. That is, take the batteries out of your tv remote.

Relevant to writers:

So if you want to write more, look deep into your heart and identify your own attitudes toward writing.

Are you in flight-or-fight mode when you hit the desk? If you are, investigate ways to make that easier for yourself. Avoid the desk completely and go for a walk with your voice memo recorder. Hide a cookie in your drawer and don’t eat it until you’ve written 20 words. Take a course that will support you as you write.

Pick a behavior, experiment, and see what happens.