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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Ridenour

Book Review: The Happiness Advantage

Recently I have been re-examining my life and in particular, what makes me happy. Years ago, a previous employer (thanks Paul) provided all of its employees with the book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. We were given this book for two reasons. One, Shawn Achor was the guest speaker at our upcoming symposium and two, that employer believed in the exploration of finding one's own happiness. Fortunate as I was, I did not take advantage of reading the book at that point in my life. However, as I've been looking at my life, I thought that the book would be a great guide for me as I continued my reflections on what makes me happy.

The main premise of the book is to look at happiness differently. Happiness does not necessarily come from success, however, success can come from happiness. The key though is to redefine what happiness means to you. What you think makes you happy may not be at the core of what truly makes you happy.

While I have been going through these musings, a phrase keeps coming up for me: "Let go of what you think success looks like." Even though this simple phrase has been going around in my head for a while, I feel like it is still rolling around up there for continued reflection. Still trying to find my way and what makes me happy.

However, The Happiness Advantage has been a good guide along this journey, providing great insights and focus when needed. The seven principles of happiness that are discussed are not only great concepts but provide valuable ways to have some sort of action associated with them. For me, I tend to be action oriented and sometimes need a way to focus my thoughts on something to move items forward.

I did note down some "nuggets" that appealed to me and thought I would share them.

  • If we study merely what is average, we will remain merely average.

  • The competitive edge is available to all who put in the effort.

  • For me, happiness is the joy we fell striving after our potential.

  • Even the smallest shots of positivity can give someone a serious competitive edge.

  • Remember – happiness is not just a mood – it’s a work ethic.

  • We care not only about our personal success but also the success of others.

  • If we have a long enough lever and a good place to stand – a fulcrum point – we can move the entire world.

  • The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.

  • Pygmalion Effect – our belief in another person’s potential brings that potential to life.

  • But armed with positivity, the brain stays open to possibility.

  • We are freed by our choices.

  • Robert F. Kennedy: "Only those who dare to fall greatly can ever achieve greatly."

  • Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves.

  • Small successes can all add up to major achievements.

  • Common sense is not common action.

  • In life, knowledge is only part of the battle. Without action, knowledge is often meaningless.

  • Yet the action required to follow through on what we know is often the hardest part.

  • Our social support can prove the difference between succumbing to the cult of the average and achieving our fullest potential.

  • The person we have the greatest power to change is ourselves.

I would highly recommend reading this book for anyone who wants to rethink what makes them happy and to look at ways to explore possibility.

Check out my live review of The Happiness Advantage on Twitch at or on YouTube at

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