When I was a co-op student in high school, my employer led a training program developed around the principles employed at the Seattle Fish Market. One of the key messages was “Choose your attitude”, and when I left that role, she presented me with a gift, a framed image of a water droplet and ripples. The message read, ”Attitude: a little thing that makes a big difference."
The Happiness Advantage can be summed up in that one word too. If you need proof it’s worth changing, this book has it. If you need tactics to try and train yourself to be more positive, this book provides them. If you need validation that your success is more the result of your positive outlook on life, this book will give it. It pulls together that which we may already be implicitly aware.
For as much as the world throws its punches at us, we can choose how we respond and react to them. With some practice and training, we can bend our perception and see the opportunity to rise above and thrive in the face of adversity. We can seek the positive or we can be pulled down into the doldrums of the negative. It’s all in your attitude.
There are some super factoids in the book also. Like the Losada Line, which states 2.9013 positive interactions are needed to cancel out one negative. This made me think of business relationships and how complimentary and encouraging I am (or am not). If we are trying to develop a relationship and offering continuous feedback, ample positive reinforcement is essential.
I also love the part about moving the “fulcrum” (the balance point). I have made a conscious effort the past couple years to work on things I love and love the things I work on. We can’t always choose the projects we’re assigned or the teams we work with so when this happens, changing our mindset is a powerful way to still do your best work and get more out of the experience than if it feels like a chore. It’s also a great reminder for the ways you choose to spend non-work time. You must enjoy it or its for naught. I know this feeling well when I haven’t kept a positive frame of mind. It’s an empty feeling if I spend a weekend at the farm, as an example, and if there isn’t a task to throw myself into I sometimes feel like I wasted the time, which I so rarely get. I hate that feeling so I try to enjoy every moment I can, wherever I am, because ultimately, time is precious.
In all, there are 7 principles which Achor outlines to strengthen your “happiness” and take advantage of this positive mindset. We may do some of them already, but I suspect there is room for each of us to always improve in one area or another, so I liked the suggestions to develop each principle. Generally, they don’t seem difficult to put into practice so long as I can commit to them. For example, implementing the "20-second rule" and removing the barriers that cause procrastination will take some work and practice. To get motivated though, I decided to purchase a “gratitude journal” to start capturing at least 3 things everyday which I’m thankful for, another suggestion Achor makes to find the positive in our lives everyday.
At a recent Ag Women’s Network event, one of the women spoke of how she loves the energy the events give her and attending them is important for her personal wellbeing and motivation. This is partially the “Social Investment” I think Achor is talking about and our regular discussion around work-life balance fits well the emphasis he places on personal relationships. Our companies and industry will benefit if we can all find greater satisfaction by richer personal relationships.
Perhaps the coolest thing this book suggests is that leading by example truly works. In a workplace culture or an organization where the mood may be less than positive, a few employees can truly change the culture by changing their outlook. While it would be great for this to be led by management, employees can act in the interim to jumpstart the happiness ripple effect. At least until management can read this book! ;)
(Thanks to Christina Crowley-Arkley for loaning me the book and all its dog-eared pages. They were super helpful for writing this review!)