The Happiness Advantage: How A Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life

Very often people think that if you work hard enough you will become successful. Once you're successful you'll be happy, right? Actually science showed it's the other way around: Happiness fuels success.

The Happiness Advantage: How A Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life

Very often people think that if you work hard enough you will become successful. Once you're successful you'll be happy, right? Actually science showed it's the other way around: Happiness fuels success.

There is very little research done about what makes us happy. It turns out that our brains are hardwired to perform at their best when they are positive. This book explains seven principles that focus on how to be positive.

1. The Happiness Advantage — The author describes The Happiness Advantage as the advantage we have in all parts of our life when we think positively and be happy. Happiness is "the experience of positive emotions-pleasure combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose." It's the positive mood you have today and a positive perspective of the future. You can be happy in several ways e.g. by meditation, finding something to look forward to, commiting conscious acts of kindness, infuse positivity into your surroundings or exercise. You can learn to be structurally more happy every month, so even when you're down you will be more happy than a couple of months ago.

2. The Fulcrum and the Lever — How we experience the world, and our ability to succeed within it, constantly changes based on our mindset. This principle teaches us how having a positive mindset (our fulcrum) can fuel your power (the lever) in our daily life. You can't change reality but shifting your focus to look at everything positively will bring you more in life than looking at everything dismissively.

3. The Tetris Effect — When our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail. An accountant for example always looks for mistakes during a tax audit scan. This will not stop at work. After a certain time your brain will be wired to always look for mistakes instead of looking for the good things in life. This is literally our brain wiring itself to the things we do repeatedly. So how can we use The Tetris Effect to our advantage? The author recommends to write down three positive things every day so that you are forced to scan your last 24 hours for positive things. You'll be happier and less depressed. I wrote an article about explaining why writing down your goals do work.

4. Falling Up — Even when you fail, you can learn from your mistakes. So falling down gives you the leverage to stand up more powerful. There are always multiple failures behind a success. So even when you fail, try to look at things from the bright side. It will give you hope and help you get up again. I know it's hard to look at thing from the bright side, maybe the ABCD model will help you:

  • Adversity: Sometimes we can't change things, it is the way it is.
  • Belief: This is about our reaction to the failures. Is it temporarily or premanent? Are there any solutions to solve your problem?
  • Consequence: We can learn from the failure and give it a positive consequence.
  • Disputation: Arguing with yourself that what you think is a belief and not a fact and search for alternative hypotheses that could help with process the failure.
“Success is about more than simple resilience. It’s about using that downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction. It’s about capitalizing on setbacks and adversity to become even happier, even more motivated, and even more successul. It’s not falling down, it’s falling up.”

5. The Zorro Circle — This principle teaches us how to regain control by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve bigger and bigger ones. Having the feeling that you have something under your control will give a boost to your well-being and performance. When we lose control we will react emotionally instead of thinking rationally before taking action. Small successes can add up to major achievements. Start small, narrow your scope of action and focus your energy on one small task at a time.

6. The 20-Second Rule — This principle is actually very similar to one of the principles in Atomic Habits. It's about removing friction from good habits to make it easier to adopt to it. Make it as easy as possible for you to adapt to your good habits. Also make it as hard as possible for you to do negative things. Willpower is not the way to change your bad habits. You will lose in the long run.

7. Social Investment — Humans are social creatures. We will not be happy without social contacts. Social contacts will need investment in both time and energy. Maintain all your social contacts with friends, family and colleagues. This is a big part of your happiness. It's also important to keep in mind that you are the average of the people you hang out with. If you hang out with negative people, it will have an immediate impact on your happiness. Gather positive people around you so you will be more positive too.

Final Note

You'll be both more happy and more successfull when you're positive. These seven principles help you in being a more happy human being.

Happiness fuels success. Not the other way around.