Before Happiness: How Creating a Positive Reality First Amplifies Your Levels of Happiness and Success

Before Happiness: How Creating a Positive Reality First Amplifies Your Levels of Happiness and Success

Why are some people able to make positive change while others remain the same? In his international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard trained researcher Shawn Achor described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. This book is about what comes before both. Because before we can be happy or successful, we need to first develop the ability to see that...

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Title:Before Happiness: How Creating a Positive Reality First Amplifies Your Levels of Happiness and Success
Author:Shawn Achor
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Before Happiness: How Creating a Positive Reality First Amplifies Your Levels of Happiness and Success Reviews

  • Ayelet

    This book is filled with so many great tips for setting yourself for a happier work life. There was a lot I took away from this one- such as the importance of smiling just 3 extra times per day, and that you can't make up for one negative interaction with one positive one... you need 3 positive ones! While I recognized some of the studies referenced, such as the hospital that adopted the smile within 10 feet, say hello within 5 feet, but there was a lot of original research as well.

    There w

    This book is filled with so many great tips for setting yourself for a happier work life. There was a lot I took away from this one- such as the importance of smiling just 3 extra times per day, and that you can't make up for one negative interaction with one positive one... you need 3 positive ones! While I recognized some of the studies referenced, such as the hospital that adopted the smile within 10 feet, say hello within 5 feet, but there was a lot of original research as well.

    There were times when I felt left out that I didn't read THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE first, since that seems to have a lot more corresponding tips for life, as opposed to just work. I think I am going to have to read that one next.

  • Moon

    I am so happy to have won this as a Goodreads giveaway! This book has really changed the way I look at the world, and react to it... I am on my way for a second read (yes, it IS worth a second read) then, I might add more to this review... suffice it to say, even if you think you are positive and happy... this book will still make you think... and thinking is a good thing :)

  • Kristin Antosz

    I received a copy of Before Happiness courtesy of the publisher, but had a hunch I'd enjoy it (if you know me, you know all about my intrigue with the science of happiness). When I actually cracked it open though, I was most pleasantly blown away.

    Before Happiness is all about changing your perspective on life. By reshaping your environment and looking at a situation from a new perspective can give you the tools you need to make the most out of anything - a lofty goal, an unexpected c

    I received a copy of Before Happiness courtesy of the publisher, but had a hunch I'd enjoy it (if you know me, you know all about my intrigue with the science of happiness). When I actually cracked it open though, I was most pleasantly blown away.

    Before Happiness is all about changing your perspective on life. By reshaping your environment and looking at a situation from a new perspective can give you the tools you need to make the most out of anything - a lofty goal, an unexpected challenge, you name it! I read a lot about the science of happiness and goal-setting in my spare time, and after awhile, the analysis and advice starts to all blur together. Just by changing your outlook, however, Achor posits that you can radically change your performance and outcome and gives you the tools to do it, walking you though the process step-by-step.

    Sure, there are steps to achieving your goals that get reiterated time after time, and for good reason, but Achor approaches this whole "how to be happier" in a new way, offering up strategies that were new, even to me. Many of the strategies are active and framed as small activities, like drawing a map of your world (it sounds crazy now, but just try it!) and mapping your goals that are really helpful.

    And to top it all off, Achor brings some really hilarious stories to the forefront to illustrate his points. It's like reading about being happy was fun or something...

  • Cindy

    I love this book & am going to buy it. I thought it gave easy-to-understand ideas for changing the things we do to help increase our levels of happiness.

    My notes from the book:

    1. Choose the most valuable reality:

    -recognize the existence of multiple realities by changing the details your brain chooses to focus on.

    -See a greater range of realities by adding vantage points and seeing the world from a broader perspective.

    -Select the most valuable reality that is bo

    I love this book & am going to buy it. I thought it gave easy-to-understand ideas for changing the things we do to help increase our levels of happiness.

    My notes from the book:

    1. Choose the most valuable reality:

    -recognize the existence of multiple realities by changing the details your brain chooses to focus on.

    -See a greater range of realities by adding vantage points and seeing the world from a broader perspective.

    -Select the most valuable reality that is both positive and true

    2. Mental maps

    -identify and set better goals using markers of meaning

    -chart more direct routes to goals

    -map success routes before escape routes

    3. Success accelerants

    -zoom in on the target, make it seem closer

    -magnify the target size

    -decrease energy required

    4. Noise canceling

    -cancel negative or useless noise

    -learn the 4 criteria of noise

    -reduce overall volume of noise

    -learn to cancel out noise of worry, fear, anxiety, & pessimism by 3 waves of positive energy

    ---wave 1--I will keep my worry in proportion to the likelihood of the event

    ---wave 2--I will not ruin 10,000 days to be right on a handful

    ---wave 3--I will not equate worrying with being loving or responsible

    5. Positive inception

    -transfer positive reality to others

    -create easy to replicate positive patterns & habits & help them spread

    -take the power lead

    -appeal to emotion & craft shared, meaningful narratives

    -create renewable, sustainable source of positive energy that motivates & energizes those around you

    p. 91-92

    ...fundamental attribution error, which is the human tendency to judge our own behavior based on context but to attribute others' behabior to their character...We need to give others the same benefit of the doubt that we give ourselves. Not doing so is a counterproductive error that results from putting ourselves on the center of our maps. But by consciously choosing to reorient our maps so that we try to explain others' behavior on the basis of context rather than character, we can slowly begin to expand the borders of our mental universe.

    p. 175

    1. How often has this negative event happened to me in the past?

    2. How often does this negative event happen to people in my situation?

    p. 189

    The 10/5 Way involves just a few behavioral rules: If a guest walks by a Ritz employee within 10 feet, the employee should make eye contact and smile. If that guest walks by within five feet, the employee should say "Hello."

    p. 192

    Our personalities may be distinct and unique, but our brains are highly interconnected; they are linked on a wireless mirror network.

    ...our thoughts and perceptions are what dictate our nonverbal actions

  • Natali

    There is a lot of good stuff in here. Achor makes an effort to include new research on positive psychology and I appreciated that. He presents academic research along with actionable tips on how to create positive momentum in your life.

    I found myself implementing his tips without even thinking about them. Particularly those about positive interactions, meaning markers, and using your email inbox for good. A very worth and fast read. Read it!

  • Jane Dugger

    This is a great resource for incorporating new activities to promote happiness & success in your life. There is also easy to understand science & data to explain why these things work.

    What are the 3 most interesting things I learned from this book?

    1 - Using this question to help keep your focus on non-fiction reads. This idea encouraged me to listen more acutely and analyze what I was hearing. Often causing me to ask the question, would this work in my life?

    This is a great resource for incorporating new activities to promote happiness & success in your life. There is also easy to understand science & data to explain why these things work.

    What are the 3 most interesting things I learned from this book?

    1 - Using this question to help keep your focus on non-fiction reads. This idea encouraged me to listen more acutely and analyze what I was hearing. Often causing me to ask the question, would this work in my life?

    2 - Use the power lead. The first person to speak in a conversation sets the tone of the entire encounter. This can be used at work or home. Leading off interactions with something positive like a compliment, etc.

    3 - Incorporate the 10/5 Way. This is the basis of the Ritz Carlton hotel's fantastic customer service. If you are within 10' of someone, acknowledge & smile at them. If you are with 5' of someone, greet them. I *LOVE* this concept. I am a big greeter & good morning-er (much to my other half's chagrin). I practiced this at work and it was great.

    Why was reading this important?

    There is always room for improvement. I was raised very much in this outlook but I learned some new techniques and how this is all supported with science.

    Well done.

  • Kate

    I mostly liked Before Happiness. For the most part, Achor addresses different clinically-strategies for leaders as they attempt to create positive organizations and teams that are likely to succeed. Most of this is extremely useful and applicable to many different types of groups.

    I am a little creeped out by the "inception" portion, in which we can supposedly manipulate people to be more productive and happy. That feels a little icky to me--especially when one of his main examples ar

    I mostly liked Before Happiness. For the most part, Achor addresses different clinically-strategies for leaders as they attempt to create positive organizations and teams that are likely to succeed. Most of this is extremely useful and applicable to many different types of groups.

    I am a little creeped out by the "inception" portion, in which we can supposedly manipulate people to be more productive and happy. That feels a little icky to me--especially when one of his main examples are low-wage WalMart employees. Apparently, WalMart hired Dr. Achor to help with the intractable problem of their impoverished employees who are, for SOME reason, not as happy as they ought to be. Meanwhile, the Waltons sit on their stacks of billions, and it doesn't occur to them that maybe a decent living wage is a contributor to happiness . . . But, anyway, aside from that chapter, the rest of the book? Really, really helpful.

  • Jen

    I received a pre-publication galley of this book as part of a GoodReads giveaway. The author Shawn Achor is a young Harvard-trained researcher in the field of positive psychology. The writing style is breezy. His voice is enthusiastic and full of phrases that sound more suited for the marketing world than psychology. I find helpful some of the criteria in the "Noise Canceling" chapter. "Noise" is information that comes to us through the news, email, radio, conversations and any other source that

    I received a pre-publication galley of this book as part of a GoodReads giveaway. The author Shawn Achor is a young Harvard-trained researcher in the field of positive psychology. The writing style is breezy. His voice is enthusiastic and full of phrases that sound more suited for the marketing world than psychology. I find helpful some of the criteria in the "Noise Canceling" chapter. "Noise" is information that comes to us through the news, email, radio, conversations and any other source that does more to distract us than help us towards our goals. He lists four criteria for incoming information. If the information fits any of the four criteria, it's probably noise. 1) If it's unusable and I won't alter my behavior because of it. 2) If it's untimely and I'm not going to use it before it ceases to be applicable. 3) If it's hypothetical. 4) If it distracts me from my goals.

    Related mostly to criteria 1 and 4, I have a tendency to get caught up in sad news that I am powerless to change. Achor gives me permission to spend less time (even five minutes a day less) focusing on these issues and events so that I may turn my focus to what I can control.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    If you tell me a book is about happiness, I’m gonna check it out. I just am.

    This one was not a disappointment. Here are the ideas I took away:

    “...in the working world the most valuable reality is one in which there is at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions….Below this ration, engagement plummeted and turnover rates shot up. In fact, Losada found that the highest-performing teams had a 6:1 ration.”

    “...Dr. Loretta Malandro names some of the most common b

    If you tell me a book is about happiness, I’m gonna check it out. I just am.

    This one was not a disappointment. Here are the ideas I took away:

    “...in the working world the most valuable reality is one in which there is at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions….Below this ration, engagement plummeted and turnover rates shot up. In fact, Losada found that the highest-performing teams had a 6:1 ration.”

    “...Dr. Loretta Malandro names some of the most common blind spots that hold us back in our careers. The primary one...is an inability to rely on other people: when most executives face a massive challenge or stressor, they try to figure out how to solve the problem alone….The second most common blind spot among business leaders is...the ability to see the effect their decisions will have upon their teams. Leaders with this blind spot assume that everyone will view their decisions and choices in the same way they do, or they downplay the importance of feedback; as a result, their perspective on problems or challenges is limited. The final common blind spot is…”bottling it up,” or concealing emotions….”

    “...we need to change how we judge people…the human tendency to judge our own behavior based on context but to attribute others’ behavior to their character.”

    “...if you take the power lead (simply by being first to speak) and start with the positive...you can rewrite the script of the entire interaction.”

  • Becky

    I picked this book up after hearing Shawn Achor speak at a conference. He is a truly engaging and humorous speaker, and I felt very motivated by what he had to say about the relatively simple choices we can make to be happier and more successful. I've even taken up exercising more and gratitude journaling after hearing him speak... and have noticed a bump in my mood.

    The premise of this book is that if we do simple, practical things every day to change our perspective to a more positi

    I picked this book up after hearing Shawn Achor speak at a conference. He is a truly engaging and humorous speaker, and I felt very motivated by what he had to say about the relatively simple choices we can make to be happier and more successful. I've even taken up exercising more and gratitude journaling after hearing him speak... and have noticed a bump in my mood.

    The premise of this book is that if we do simple, practical things every day to change our perspective to a more positive one, we will be more successful and capable of solving real problems. This idea makes lots of sense, and, particularly as I am getting more involved in political organizing, there are some good tips to increase effectiveness.

    So why did I give this book only three stars? Because Achor's philosophy can be used to justify oppressive systems by telling the people being crushed by those systems that the problem is simply one of their perspective. A prime example is Achor's own work at Walmart (for which I am sure he was paid handsomely). Here is how he describes his partnership with Walmart in his own words, "...when Walmart came knocking in 2012, wondering how to create a happiness movement for their 1.5 million associates--- many of whom do not have much education, are at the poverty line, have relatives in prison, are single parents, don't have much time away from the floor for training, don't have access to computers, work part time, and are overweight... my company, Good Think Ic., partnered with Walmart visionary David Hoke and Jamie Brunner at B & B to help design a program where we went into stores to get to get employees to create sustained positive habits around domains of their lives: family, fitness, food, and money." (p. 211)

    What Achor discretely leaves out of this lovely description is that Walmart employees "don't have much time away from the floor" because they are at times locked in the building in order to keep them on the job. At least a large part of Walmart employees' problems with money stem from the fact that their salaries are so low that many still qualify for food stamps and Medicaid, and that they are at least in part in poor health because working conditions in many Walmart stores are unsafe, and the company provides extremely cheap and low quality health coverage.

    Furthermore, given Walmart's obsession with busting unions, and the recent deluge of class action lawsuits filed against the company by their associates (for a whole range of issues including discrimination against pregnant workers and associates with disabilities) one wonders if their "Happiness Initative" isn't actually an effort to just shut people up.

    I am not trying to say that using positive thinking strategies is a bad thing or something Walmart shouldn't be doing. But, from an ethical perspective, if you are a "happiness consultant", shouldn't you advocate for corporations to do the basics of providing a living wage and decent health insurance to their employees before paying you big bucks to organize a "happiness initiative"? Otherwise, aren't you essentially colluding with that corporation to implicitly blame vulnerable people who are being mistreated for their circumstances and perpetuating a corrupt and unjust system?

    I still like Achor's message, and I will still apply many of the tips he shares in his book. I would still even recommend this book to colleagues and friends for its practical advice and easy writing style. But I would recommend reading this with a grain of salt. Yes, our perspective is important, And yes, regardless of your life station, there are things you can do to improve your lot. But real change happens when we hold the changes we can make in ourselves as individuals in balance with recognizing actual societal problems and working to create more just systems. And it's easy to forget that systems part if you're accepting hefty paychecks from horrible, corrupt businesses like Walmart.

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