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Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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*Starred Review* There have been many books published on happiness, an elusive goal for many of us. And there will be many more added to shelves after Achor’s second book (the first being The Happiness Advantage, 2010). Yet, truly, there was no primer on how to factually, practically achieve positive genius until this former Harvard researcher zeroed in. The concept is fairly simple: change is possible only when we link our lives to others. That positivity, in turn, results from applying five factors to change your reality: (1) choose the most valuable reality, (2) map your meaning markets, (3) find the x-spot, (4) cancel the noise, and (5) create positive inception. In layperson speak, consider these points: do something prosocial—i.e., for others—and shift your attitude. Use a treasure map, a way to chart your success path. Keep your eyes on the beach, not the rocks. Exercise—to eliminate noise and distractions from your life. And use humor everywhere. Every one of his suggestions is accompanied by personal anecdotes, others’ stories, psychological research, and just plain facts and figures. It’s an extraordinarily compelling argument to actively work on changing mindsets. --Barbara Jacobs


In this remarkable book, one of the leading thinkers in the field of positive psychology digs deep into the science to find practical techniques for unleashing your genius for happiness. So forget about cheap gimmicks and gooey affirmations. Instead, listen to Shawn Achor -- and prepare to take notes!"
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of DRIVE, TO SELL IS HUMAN, and A WHOLE NEW MIND

“Shawn Achor, one of our greatest positive psychologists for the workplace, has done it again. With his characteristic blend of academic rigor and twinkle in the eye, Achor will change your view of happiness, of reality -- and of yourself.” 
--Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Before Happiness 
is the book that positive psychology fans have been waiting to read. Shawn Achor, the leading light in bringing the science of happiness to work, offers his signature blend of eye-opening research insights, entertaining stories, and infectious enthusiasm. This fresh, uplifting book is filled with ideas for improving our organizations and our lives.
 -Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take

"Shawn Achor is a positive genius who is capable of taking complex academic research and making it come to life in companies and schools across the globe."
-Tony Hsieh, bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of, Inc.

In Before Happiness, Shawn Achor provides simple, scientifically sound strategies built around three key factors most of us undervalue: where we choose to put our attention, how much social support we build into our lives, and whether we view stress as a challenge rather than a threat.  
--Tony Schwartz, best-selling author of The Power of Full Engagement and Be Excellent at Anything

“Read this book before you buy any other self-improvement title. For anyone who wants to find more meaning, achievement, and joy in life, this is the single best place to start."
-Tom Rath, Bestselling author of StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Eat Move Sleep

"Achor infuses Before Happiness with empirical evidence, anecdotes and studies showing that even a simple adjustment in thinking impacts our outlook and how we’re perceived. ...The book offers insights and ideas for adjusting your angle of vision so you open the door to happiness and success." -Success Magazine

-"A must read" - The Washington Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770436730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770436735
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shawn Achor is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. Shawn has become one of the world's leading expert on the connection between happiness and success. In 2012, Shawn's research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his TED talk is one of the most popular all time with over 3.8 million views, and he has a new lecture airing on PBS called "The Happiness Advantage." Shawn is currently leading the Everyday Matters campaign with the National MS Society and Genzyme to show how happiness remains a choice for those struggling with a chronic illness.

In 2007, Shawn founded Good Think to share his research with the world. Subsequently, Shawn has lectured or researched in 49 countries, speaking to CEOs in China, school children in South Africa, doctors in Dubai, and farmers in Zimbabwe. He has spoken to the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi, doctors at St. Jude Children's Hospital, and worked with the U.S. Department of Health to promote happiness.

Shawn graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Masters degree from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics. For seven years, Shawn also served as an Officer of Harvard, living in Harvard Yard and counseling students through the stresses of their first year. Though he now travels extensively for his work, Shawn continues to conduct original psychology research on happiness and organizational achievement in collaboration with Yale University and the Institute for Applied Positive Research.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By John Chancellor TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you Google "Investment advice" you will get over one hundred and fifty million different sites to check out. If you were to investigate just a few, you would find much conflicting information. Do the same for "happiness" and you get even more sites and more conflicting information. One of the problems we have today is that we are bombarded with information - but so much of it is conflicting. Most of us are lacking an objective method of separating the helpful from the noise.

Shawn Achor, the author of Before Happiness, is a highly acclaimed positive psychologist. He is also the author of a previous book - The Happiness Advantage. His passion is the study of happiness - discovering what really leads to happiness and also discovering those things that block our way.

In Before Happiness, he gives us 5 key methods to better understand how we can create more happiness in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

The first key is to understand that we create our own reality by what we focus on. We can choose to focus on the negative things in life or we can choose to take a more positive approach. He is not advocating irrational optimism - which he says is delusional. "Your reality is a choice; what you choose to focus on shapes how you perceive and interpret your world."

The second key is the meaning we assign to things in life - Mr. Achor calls them meaning markers. You will learn how to set better goals based on what is meaningful to you and your life.

The third key is what he calls the X-Spot. This concept is best illustrated by the kick a marathon runner gets when they see the finish line in sight. They get a burst of energy to finish the race.
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92 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Nancy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I've gotten older, I've become more focused on doing what makes me happy and fulfilled, rather than doing what others' think I should be doing. This is the second book that I've read about happiness, the first being Gretchen Rubin's, "The Happiness Project." I didn't care for Gretchen's book because I felt it was all about Gretchen whining. I am happy to say that I loved this book!

I really enjoyed this book. Here's why:

* Shawn's practical advice and exercises on how to think about your happiness. Sure, I've read lots of self-improvement books, but this was one of the few where the exercises really resonated with me. He breaks it down into 5 steps or skills:

1. Choosing the Most Valuable Reality
2. Mapping Your Success Route
3. Finding Success Accelerants
4. Eliminating Negative Noise
5. Transferring Your Positive Reality to Others.

* Shawn makes the concepts reality by his concrete examples. For example, I love the idea of mapping your life, e.g. your current workplace or city. It forces you to really think about your environment and what is important to you.

* The nice mixture of research showing happiness factors and Shawn's personal stories. It makes Shawn appear very sincere. He obviously believes in this stuff.

* The down to earth style. It's as though Shawn is sitting down and having a conversation with you about happiness.

* It inspired me to dig deeper. Of course, I'm going to read Shawn's first book, "The Happiness Advantage." I'm also going to read the other books he suggests. I just love it when one book leads me to a lot of others on the same topic.

I'm glad that I read this book before his first book, "The Happiness Advantage," since this book gives a good framework for finding your true happiness.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to lead a more fulfilling life.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By O.S. on April 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll start with the disclaimer that I've read Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage several times before coming to this book, and my rating is largely based on the differences between the books. The Happiness Advantage provides a slew of research and tools which are easy to implement and highly effective. You can adopt any of these at any point in your life and start seeing immediate results. I consider it one of the best books on understanding happiness and finding more of it in your life.

Before Happiness takes a different approach. It lays out and recommends a more structured plan to follow that looks a lot like other success formulas - understanding your values, setting goals, and then using various techniques to reach them. This is a much broader and bigger picture approach designed to shape your life around the things that really matter. While this approach has value it's much harder to implement for many people (including myself).

The books approach the subject very differently, and some people are more likely to get more out of the first book. So don't be fooled by the title - read the earlier book and decide for yourself!
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By taaj VINE VOICE on July 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've read several books on positive psychology. It's a rather simple concept so I didn't expect this to be particularly ground breaking. It's actually quite brilliant. It seems as though Achor observed, "Hm, this positive psychology stuff doesn't work for everybody. Why?" or perhaps, "There is something more here. I wonder what it could be?" then set out to find the answers. The book is about the reality shift that comes before happiness and success are possible. It explains (to me) why some people can express gratitude, sleep, exercise, attend to relationships and do all the things that are supposed to lead to success and happiness, but don't actually get there.

This book provides the missing link and removes the mystery. It gives concrete steps to changing the mindset that makes happiness possible. It has expanded my way of thinking and made me more effective in work and in life. It's a great resource for everyone. Highly recommended!
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