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The Happiness Advantage

Posted: March 29, 2011, 7 p.m., EDT

"Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have big libraries.” -- Dan Kennedy

While this quote may come across as a bit harsh, I like the main message. Reading is critical to growing both personally and professionally and without a doubt, the most successful people I know read multiple business and personal growth books each month. It’s easier than ever to make that happen with the proliferation of e-books and audible books, and the ease of ordering product through sites like
Speaking of reading, I am a huge fan of the book "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work” by Shawn Achor. Shawn spent more than a decade living, researching and lecturing at Harvard and this book is a result of one of the largest studies on happiness ever conducted. I wish every business leader and manager would read this so they will understand how very important having a positive workplace environment is to the success of a business. I have always said that running a retail pet store has to be one of the most stressful jobs anywhere (and I speak from experience). This book will give you entertaining, practical, easy tips on how to reduce not only your stress but, just as importantly, the stress of those who work for you.

The basis of the book is this: Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology, neuroscience, management studies and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

Every single business outcome increases when people are positive. Students that are positive score better on their tests. Corporate culture that emphasizes positivity will result in three times greater levels of creativity and employee retention.

Research shows that unhappy employees take more sick days, staying at home an average of 15 extra sick days a year. That’s a huge difference and one that definitely should get your attention. Not to mention how much more fun it is to go to work in a positive environment. The Happiness Advantage is why cutting-edge companies such as Yahoo have an in-house massage parlor and why Google engineers are encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Having fun isn’t just about having fun; it also leads to bottom-line results. The book covers many different ways that people can achieve happiness--it is available to everyone if they just shift their mindset and attitude. Cool stuff.

The Happiness Advantage isn’t only about how to become happier at work. It’s also about how to reap the benefits of a happier and more positive mind set in all areas of our lives. On a personal note, I am an avid runner. I notice a huge difference in my energy levels when I am thinking positive thoughts while running versus focusing on something negative. I’m sure there is an area of your life that you would notice the same type of difference.

I am recommending The Happiness Advantage for all of my clients and I highly recommend it to you and your staff.

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