A happiness researcher investigates why some people can embrace positivity while others are mired in pessimism.
Expanding on the theories he presented in The Happiness Advantage (2010)—primarily, that a “happy brain” can lead to greater professional and personal success—Achor now turns his attention to the question of how people learn to accept the possibility of happiness in the first place. Happiness, the author claims, is not the same as blind optimism but rather the ability to focus on the positive aspects of a situation while not becoming overwhelmed by the challenges. Yet how do those prone to negativity train themselves to have a more positive outlook? Achor breaks it down to a five-step process: learning to see the most “valuable reality” in a given situation; planning or “mapping” a course that will lead to success; using tools to view a goal as more achievable; cancelling out negative “noise”; and sharing or “franchising” this newfound happiness with others. Achor’s unnecessary use of invented jargon (“reality architecture,” “success accelerants,” “meaning markers”) makes the book seem more convoluted than it is. By far, the most helpful components are not his theoretical arguments but his examples and applications. Drawing from his stint in the Navy and at Harvard, as well as his experiences as a business speaker, Achor is able to offer specific instances to support his claims. Of course, the concept that positive thinking can lead to a better life is not news, but Achor takes it a step further by offering easy-to-follow activities that can help one view life more positively. While business leaders may have an interest in the author’s research, the book seems less applicable to organizations than to individuals, especially those navigating the current economy.
Advice that goes beyond generalized assertions by providing a set of useful tasks designed to inspire a happier outlook on life.