“ The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work ”

by Shawn Achor

Book Cover


The default scheme has us believe that success will bring us happiness: we’ll be happy once […]. In fact, happiness and positivity are a predictor of success rather than the opposite.

Therefore focusing on being happy and positive becomes a work ethic. There are 7 ways of being happier that can help success:

  1. Do small things that make you happy when stresses
  2. Interpret things under a positive light
  3. Observing all things under positive light helps other areas to be interpreted positively (e.g. life -> work)
  4. Learn from failures and see them as learning opportunities
  5. Small steps, focus on controlling what can be
  6. Habit
  7. Social support.

Reading notes

Orthodoxy has working hard to achieve success as the predictor to happiness.

Happiness and positivity is in fact a predictor of successes, not the opposite.

Happiness is a work ethic : you can become happier.

7 “principles” to leverage the happiness advantage

  1. Being happy provides an advantage in performance and success. Before big presentation or stressful event, do a small thing that makes you happier (funny video, song, etc). Anchor to happy thoughts (future vacation, good meal). Commit random acts of kindness. Exercise. Leverage a signature skill. Spend money on experiences. Look positive. Losada line- 3 positive to 1 negative interactions to get teams to be positive
  2. Fulcrum and lever - finite brain resources : means that you can change the brain to how it interprets the world. Move the fulcrum by priming yourself into having happiness, or changing the story you tell yourself. Lengthen lever by realizing your potential. Focus on strengths. Look for meaning in what your doing, be it for you or others. Always outline the meaning and the strengths of employees to get them to perform. Believe in their ability to succeed
  3. Tetris effect (after a study where participants played Tetris for 3 days then saw Tetris problems everywhere) - we build observation biases where we train our brains to see a particular set of things, particularly negative things that need fixing. Instead, train your brain to see the positive. Be careful about things you filter out (gorilla costume)
  4. Falling up - learn from failures, see the potential in dire situations, be careful of learned helplessness. Interpretation of things can be positive or negative, positive predicts happiness
  5. Control the small before the large. The mear feeling of being in Control brings happiness. Internal Locus of control. Feeling external control and pressure increases dissatisfaction and reduces performance
  6. Habit. Happiness comes from fulfilling things rather than inactivity. Activation energy is the energy it takes to start something. Lower activation energy for things you want to do. Path of least resistance. 20s rule: if it takes less than 20s to start it requires energy. Put things you want to do in the way and things you want to avoid far from reach
  7. Social support. In hardship, Hold on to people and don’t let go. Develop human connections at work. Emphasize real rapport

Emotions are physically contagious and so happiness is.

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.