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Happiness Advantage – The Connection Between Lollipops and High Performance

Happiness Advantage Summary

Author: Shawn Anchor

The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at WorkGoodreads Link

I’ve been meaning to read The Happiness Advantage for a few years. I read it in January, the “least productive month of the year”, making it the perfect time to learn how positive psychology fuels success.

I strongly recommend this book for someone looking to inspire peers and have a positive impact inside work teams. The author offered far more management and leadership advice than I expected.

The following summary of the Happiness Advantage from Shawn Anchor highlights the top ideas and best stories from the book.

How can Lollipops and Jell-O increase performance at work and in life?

Negative emotions put blinders on us to hone in on fight or flight mode, but positive emotions open us up to more ideas.

In a study of four-year-olds asked to complete learning tasks, they showed the power of positive thinking by asking one group to remember something that makes them happy.

At their young age, the children mentioned things like “my jell-o lunch” and afterward outperformed the control group.

Even in a study with experienced doctors, they saw similar results. When running through medical school exercises with hypothetical patients half the doctors were given a gift of candy before the questions (to eat later).

This group identified the correct diagnosis twice as fast as the control group and showed half as much anchoring, meaning they more easily let go of their initial diagnosis.

Ok ok, maybe you’re extending zero-sugar January for another month. But you’re in luck – just imagining a happy moment can improve your creative outputs and how much you see / observe.

“One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie raise their endorphin levels by 27 percent.”

Maybe you can’t go out to see a movie or a concert tonight, but you could put something on your calendar for the next few weeks. Whenever you need a bit of extra happiness, remind yourself of that event!

Invest in your Signature Strength

For Shawn Anchor this is learning, and when he’s on the road 300 days a year it’s difficult to invest in this. So he makes it a point to learn one historical fact about each place that he visits.
And this makes him much happier because he is continuing to do the thing he feels he does the best.

Losada Line for Interaction Sentiment

The magical line of positive to negative interactions necessary to maintain a successful team is 2.9013. So it takes three positive comments to offset a negative one!

Tetris Effect and Optimism

If you spend a few hours playing Tetris, it will take over your brain and you might find yourself imagining how everything could fit together like a Tetris game in real life.

This also happens with optimism (or rose-tinted glasses), which carries over to how you remember the events of a challenging day or the way you approach other problems

Studies have shown that optimists set more goals (and more difficult goals) than pessimists, put more effort into attaining those goals, stay more engaged in the face of difficulty, and rise above obstacles more easily.

20 Second Rule

By making good habits accessible within 20 seconds we train ourselves to do them often.

On the other hand, we can make bad habits more difficult, for example by setting the batteries to the tv remote over 20 seconds away from the couch by the TV, thus deterring the act of watching tv.

Good Manager Practices

One Employee thank you
Shawn advised one executive with two simple rules. Before walking through the conference room doors, he had to think of one employee he could thank for something. Then the second rule was that as soon as the meeting started he needed to verbally acknowledge that person’s contribution. Even just a simple sentence was enough.

A popular manager at a top 100 law firm says he tries to learn one new thing about a co-worker each day, and then they reference that in later conversations. The social capital investment paid off in many different ways.

Ask team members “what’s on the other side of your business card?”
Maybe it’s “big picture thinker” or “educator” or “calm under fire.”
How someone identifies themselves is a great indicator of their values.

Top Quotes

“We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes, or even staggering defeats along the way. We are freed by our choices.” — Jim Collins

“Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but some people are able to make the best out of things that happen.” — Tal Ben-Shahar

“To be excellent we cannot simply think or feel excellent, we must act excellently.” — Aristotle
Yet the action required to follow through on what we know is often the hardest.

“Humans are biologically prone to habit and it is because we are mere bundles of habits that we are able to automatically perform many of our daily tasks.” — William James

“Don’t write a book, write a page… don’t expect to be a great manager in your first six months, just try to set expectations well.” — Martin Lindstrom