Positive Psychology Part 2: The Happiness Advantage
In Positive Psychology Part 1, we analyzed elements of positive psychology and the ways it can improve both your personal life and your leadership role in the executive world. Today I want to introduce you to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, a book I highly recommend on the topic of positive psychology.
I love to watch Shawn Achor because he has an uncanny ability to take ideas that were previously inaccessible to the general public and relay that information in a way that is easy to understand.
His relatable anecdotes capture the essence of psychology while remaining both humorous and relatable.
The first time I saw Achor was in a TED Talk. He was telling a story about playing with his sister as a child. She was pretending she was a unicorn. While they were playing, she fell down and started crying. Worried that he would get in trouble for not looking out for her, he quickly told her, “Oh, you can’t be hurt--you’re a unicorn.” He essentially used positive psychology to keep his sister from blabbing to mom.
The Happiness Advantage is full of other anecdotes that make the reader laugh while representing important elements of positive psychology. He weaves these stories together with a functional practice of his ideas, allowing you to apply the understanding without having to study psychology for years or read dense manuals.
Happiness As a Goal, Not a Byproduct
In this book, Achor explores the idea that happiness is the precursor to greater success, not the result. We often believe that when we achieve a certain goal, such as a promotion, a relationship, or losing weight, we will attain happiness.
The focus of Achor’s book is allowing your emotions to be independent of your circumstances. Rather than working toward a goal in hopes of becoming happy, you can instead choose your emotional response to your situation. By selecting healthy thoughts that are forward-looking and expansive, you invite success.
I frequently meet clients that are on the treadmill of success, running endlessly towards it. They spend their lives searching and working towards external goals, and when they reach the goals, they are surprised to find that they are left feeling hollow and unfulfilled.
The truth is that you can be wealthy at any income, you can be happy in any situation. The more happy you choose to be, the more likely you are to attract other high-performing individuals, resulting in more success in your business and your life.
Success is a Moving Goalpost
Another element from The Happiness Advantage that resonates with me is that success is often a constantly-moving goalpost, particularly in the corporate world.
For example, while working for a company, you might get promoted to director. Suddenly you receive feedback that you were great as a senior manager but your expectations have risen and now you are underperforming as a director. You might work harder and push yourself more to be a better director, and then you are told you need to raise yourself even higher if you want to become a vice president.
That’s the problem with putting the focus on success to achieve happiness; what is successful in our lives changes constantly. In the corporate world, we are strung along and sub-optimized by what people tell us as they pull us in the direction they want us to go.
If we instead put emphasis on finding happiness in whatever our current life situation is, we grow more appreciative and introspective, and we are able to optimize our own lives for success.
Locus of Control
One of the most important ideas from The Happiness Advantage is choosing an internal locus of control.
In an internal locus of control, you believe that your behaviors matter and help create your life outcomes. When you maintain an external locus of control, you are letting circumstances outside of yourself define your outcomes.
If you were to enter a restaurant and walk through, listening to conversations, you would probably overhear many people complaining...about traffic, the weather, their spouses...these people have an external locus of control. They have given up control of their happiness to the external world.
Instead, Achor encourages his readers to take an internal perspective and ask, “How do I make the most of this situation?” You can’t control the outside world, but you can control your reactions, emotions, and perception of reality.
Who Can Benefit from the Book?
The Happiness Advantage is a universally beneficial book. Whether you are looking to introduce positive psychology in your personal life or hope to gain insight into how to improve your professional interactions and leadership, this book can help you introduce steps in your life to reframe your mindset and achieve happiness through your own choices and actions.
Through The Dieckert Group’s coaching programs, clients study The Happiness Advantage and other notable works, as well as receive personal guidance in positive psychology. Using tools to reframe your mindset, change your outlooks, and move towards your goals, you can bring happiness into your life, and success along with it.
Schedule your free strategy session with us today.