Customer Reviews


378 Reviews
5 star:
 (266)
4 star:
 (80)
3 star:
 (13)
2 star:
 (9)
1 star:
 (10)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


214 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information - and fun to read!
I read a lot of business books. Most of them are filled with helpful information. Frankly, most of them are also a little on the dry. "The Happiness Advantage" is different. It is filled with fascinating research and great ideas, and it is also a hoot to read. I found myself laughing out loud as I read the book.

Shawn Achor explains the latest research he...
Published on September 16, 2010 by stewart b clifford

versus
46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of filler, not much substance
I tend to rate things based on how much I use the book after I read it. I didn't find this book particularly interesting. In the methodology of academics everywhere, the book spends a lot of time promoting its own promises of self-fulfillment (you can change your life! just read this book!), bright orange cover and little or no time actually telling you what to do...
Published 17 months ago by folderoo


‹ Previous | 1 238 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

214 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information - and fun to read!, September 16, 2010
By 
stewart b clifford (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
I read a lot of business books. Most of them are filled with helpful information. Frankly, most of them are also a little on the dry. "The Happiness Advantage" is different. It is filled with fascinating research and great ideas, and it is also a hoot to read. I found myself laughing out loud as I read the book.

Shawn Achor explains the latest research he and his colleagues in the field of positive psychology have conducted. The results are fascinating:

1) Our brains work better when they are "happy."

2) There are concrete things we can do to make our brains "happier."

3) We can also overcome our inclination to procrastinate and put off these exercises. (I found this section to be particularly interesting since I am a procrastinator).

4) When our brains are at "happy" that positivity will ripple out to others and can raise the productivity.

Give this book a look. The research shows that we (and our colleagues at work) can be more productive. And, if we are "happier" our boss will also perceive us as more positive, trustworthy, sincere and successful. Wow! And who wouldn't want to be happier at work - and at home?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


168 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good insights, October 20, 2010
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
When I was invited to review this book, I must admit I was afraid it would be the standard "happiness" pitch. To my surprise and relief, this book turned out to be truly exceptional, beginning with the author's own story.

To be sure, much of the info in this book will be standard fare for anyone who's familiar with the life coaching industry. However, it's packaged in a way that appeals even to left-brained skeptics like me. The author cites research studies to back up each point. Some of the suggestions were totally new to me, and I thought I was deeply familiar with the field.

Just a few highlights that I enjoyed:

p.55 - Work with a signature strength. This recommendation makes lots of sense to me. The book includes a link to a long online survey; I took the survey and found it surprisingly accurate. I'm a little baffled by the authors suggestion to "use it in a new way each day for a week."

p. 67: I loved the discussion of Ellen Langer's research with "senior" men. Langer asked them to imagine themselves as they'd been 20 years earlier. They improved on physical as well as mental measures.

pp 72-73 - Great discussion of leisure. I really resonated to the notion that we tend to think any non-work activity is worthless. This belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

p. 121 - A startling experiment asks people to estimate how "fortunate" they would be if they were wounded in a bank robbery. Great comment about interpretations of Wall Streeters!

p. 139 - Solving small problems can lead to big wins.

p. 163: Add 20 seconds to your day and gain several hours.

Highly recommended. I'm glad I got this book to keep instead of borrowing from the library. I want to read it a few more times.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


118 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Unique, September 26, 2010
By 
Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
I've read a lot of "happiness" books and frankly when I chose this book I was a little pessimistic about learning anything new. I couldn't have been more wrong. This book, while building on a lot of prior research, is full of new insights and presentation that is refreshingly insightful and helpful. I learned a lot and it was a compelling and convincing read. There is a wealth of useful and practical takeaways from the material. The author works in the real world and doesn't just write from a position in academia and thus has a lot more practical real-world experience than you often find in these types of books mostly written by psychology professors. I consider this one of the best I've read and I highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review Title: The power of positive psychology in all dimensions of human experience, April 11, 2011
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
Having already read Tal Ben-Shahar's The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life as well as Jessica Pryce-Jones' Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, and having absorbed and digested what their authors share, I was curious to know what (if anything) new Shawn Achor could contribute to the on-going multi-logue and how well the material is organized and presented. My rating correctly indicates what I think he has accomplished. Others have their own reasons for admiring this book. Here are two of mine.

First, Achor introduces seven principles that serve as the foundation of what he characterizes as "the happiness advantage": positive brains have a significant biological advantage over brains that are neutral and an even more substantial biological advantage over brains that are negative. In fact, The Happiness Advantage" also serves as the first principle, followed by

2. The Fulcrum and the Lever: How a positive mindset (fulcrum) can leverage power to achieve success (however defined)

3. The Tetris Effect: How that same positive mindset can recognize can recognize patterns of possibility that leads to possibilities that would otherwise be missed

4. Falling Up: When experiencing a major crisis or encountering a major threat, how selecting the right mental "path" will reveal the best course of action to take

5. The Zorro Circle: When coping with crisis or threat, how to control emotions "by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve progressively bigger ones"

6. The 20-Second Rule: When willpower weakens or fails, how to make small adjustments of energy to reroute the path of least resistance with better habits and renewed willpower.

7. The Social Investment: When challenged or threatened, "how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence - our social network support."

These principles guide and inform Achor`s narrative as it proceeds to Part Three when he shares his suggestions about how to spread "the happiness advantage" at work, at home, and beyond.

I also commend Achor on his brilliant analysis of situations with which almost all of his readers can readily identify and then on his equally brilliant explanation of how to take full advantage of such situations by viewing them as opportunities rather than as threats. Almost immediately (in the Introduction, he establishes and then sustain a direct, personal, indeed conversational rapport with his reader. The tone of the narrative is enriched by a spirit I characterize as "There will definitely be some questions to answer and problems to solve but don't worry. Hey, we're in it together." Presumably the rapport that Achor establishes with his reader very closely resembles the rapport he established with Harvard students years ago. That is great news for readers, especially for those who in greatest need of what this book offers.

Almost 20 years ago in an commencement speech at Stanford and then in an article published by Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile offered the best career advice I ever heard: Love what you do and do what you love. Perhaps the greatest challenge for any company is to make certain that those who supervise its workers get what they do best and enjoy most in alignment with achieving the company's goals. Recent research studies by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and TowersWatson reveal that happy workers (i.e. who love what they do and do what they love) work harder and smarter, completing their work "faster, better, cheaper."

For business leaders in organizations of which that cannot be said now, Shawn Achor's book is a "must read."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of filler, not much substance, November 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
I tend to rate things based on how much I use the book after I read it. I didn't find this book particularly interesting. In the methodology of academics everywhere, the book spends a lot of time promoting its own promises of self-fulfillment (you can change your life! just read this book!), bright orange cover and little or no time actually telling you what to do.
Lots of anecdotes about the author lecturing companies about how happiness changes you for the better. Lots of studies saying happiness makes you more efficient, more effective, more productive, more of a team player, more successful. It's like the difference between a marketing piece and an owner's manual. This is a marketing piece. Lots of verbiage dedicated to how great happiness is and how much it will help you to succeed, complete with studies, research, anecdotes and so forth.
I got to a certain point the in the book where it finally occurred to me. The author has little or nothing to say about what actually to do to achieve these outcomes. This book is all about promotion, more precisely promoting the author's point of view.
On the positive side, the research is right on the money, these principles are correct. But if you were hoping to figure out how to apply them in your life from reading this book, sorry, look somewhere else.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happier++, December 7, 2010
By 
Srikanth (Greater New York, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
Shawn Achor considers Tal Ben Shahar as a mentor and refers to his groundbreaking book, Happier (Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment) several times in the book. Both are from Harvard and Tal Ben Shahar teaches the famous course on positive psychology there. If you haven't read Happier, it definitely is a great starting point.

While my first impressions of this book were that it is just the same principles packaged differently, I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected. Happier is very conceptual, while Happiness Advantage is more practical (even if a little formulaic/ prescriptive at times).

Shawn Achor's main contention in the book is that happiness is not an outcome of success but a precursor to success. Happiness causes success, if we focus on being happy, we will achieve more as well.

Another important point brought forward by the book is this: Contrary to popular perception, our natural tendency is not to pursue happiness - our default response is inertia - We continue doing what we are doing even if that won't make us happy (remember the last time you wasted a whole day in front of the television even though you had plans that would have given you more happiness and meaning). This principle is well addressed in Marshall Goldsmith's Mojo (Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It), a book that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Happiness is not always a function of the situation, our way of looking at the situation is extremely important. Drucker writes (see The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done) about Stonecutters - when three of them were asked what they think they were doing one replied, "I am making a living", the second replied, "I am doing the best job of stonecutting in the entire country" and the third said, "I am building a cathedral". How you perceive what you do makes a big difference in your happiness levels - a point Shawn brings out very well.

I found the book quite engaging, well researched, well written and extremely useful. I would recommend this to every friend, colleague or a family member.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All hat and no cattle, May 24, 2013
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
Mr. Achor repeatedly trumpets his Harvard ties so I wanted to learn more about his background. What I found was both disappointing and quite surprising. Mr. Achor refers repeatedly but obliquely to his decade of "research at harvard" and implies that he has scientifically proved that happiness leads to success, while leaning heavily on the harvard name to lend credibility to his claims. Yet for all the pages spent on chummy stories about harvard, he never actually gets around to telling us, specifically, what research he did, how he did it, or what the data revealed. A casual reader might not even notice that sleight of hand. He just refers to it in generalities. Ok. Let's search Google Scholar to see what Mr. Achor has published on the link between happiness and success. Surprise! There are zero publications. Mr. Achor has never published a single solitary scientific paper in his life! At this point I'm feeling just plain lied to.

How could this guy be a Harvard professor? Well, a quick search of the internet tells us that Shawn is not and never was a harvard professor, and has no current affiliation to harvard at all. In fact, he seems to use every trick he can to get us to think he's a famous and popular professor without ever quite claiming that he is (I'm guessing Harvard's lawyers would have a field day with him otherwise, or maybe they already have). He's treading a very careful and deceptive line to inflate his qualifications far beyond the reality. He *was* once a student at Harvard (it looks like he got a master's degree in divinity -- not a science, the last time I checked). Even the lowliest faculty job at a mediocre university (much less Harvard) would require a PhD, which Shawn does not have. Shawn refers obliquely in his book to his decade of "research at harvard" but, as I noted above, if you search Google Scholar, you will see he has never published any credible scientific research at all. Zero. Nothing. It is unclear whether he has ever had any scientific training of any kind, or if his "research" involved anything other than sitting around in his dorm room. He says he is a "harvard-trained researcher" but a master's in divinity isn't scientific training and, again, there is no record of his participation in any actual research and no mention of the actual scientists he worked with. He certainly hasn't done any credible scientific research proving that "happiness leads to success." What he does appear to have done, and I say this as a petty, jealous graduate student scraping by on a tiny stipend, is make a lot of money. Selling himself as a harvard scientist (which he is not), he appears to charge huge speaking fees (as in, more for one speech than I make in a year) to hear about his "research." That sounds to me like someone chasing success, not happiness. I am hugely sympathetic to the ideas this book contains, but given how much the author is distorting his own qualifications for personal gain I worry that he is distorting the science as well.

UPDATE in response to comments:

@DSC46

I agree completely. If he had just let the content speak for itself, I would have no complaints. Plenty of people without special qualifications write decent books. The book is easy to read, easy to understand, and has useful points even if I don't find much of it to be truly new. Based on the average review here on Amazon, people seem to feel like they are getting value out of it. That's great.

With the way he harps on harvard over and over, and implies that he is a famous and popular professor at harvard who has done legitimate scientific research, however, it just feels slimy to me and like he is trying to fool his readers. It sounds like you have confirmation from connections at harvard that he is inflating his qualifications. Very interesting.

@Winter Park

I can assure you that I have read the book quite carefully. If I ignore the author's self-inflation, it's largely a decent book. If you're asking me to evaluate the content of the book, I will admit that I do find much of Happiness Advantage to be fairly derivative once I scratch below the surface. That's actually why I bothered to look into Mr. Achor's qualifications in the first place. I was expecting a harvard professor to be talking about his cool original research that I wouldn't have heard about elsewhere, but then I read through the whole book and realized that even though he kept referring to his research he never actually presented ANY data from his own original research. That seemed fishy to me, and so I bothered to look into who this guy was, and my review is the result.

The overall narrative is novel -- happiness is the key to success (but success doesn't make you happy). I don't know enough to determine if he's correct, but it's an interesting idea. But once you get to the supporting details, it's largely (though certainly not entirely) a rehash of other people's ideas. No other book talks about the "Zorro Circle," but plenty of books talk about starting daunting tasks with small doable steps (the same thing but without the fancy name). Plenty of books talk about the power of habits in determining our behavior or the value of social relationships for happiness. Mr. Achor even talks in the book about reading other books to get content for his book. But whether the ideas are derivative doesn't matter if the ideas are new to you. The content of lots of books are derivative and people still read them and get value from them. Heck, there is value is hearing the same idea a bunch of times because maybe, eventually, it will really sink in. In any event, the author does a good job communicating these ideas, and his overarching narrative is more original. If it weren't for the dishonesty, I'd probably give the content of the book 3 stars. It's not terribly original, but it's well-written, practical, and a quick, easy read.

I just think he's being dishonest about his qualifications and the basis for his ideas in order to sell more books and charge higher speaking fees. It rubs me the wrong way and I think his readers are getting tricked, as are the companies that are paying big money to hear him speak about his "research." What's sad is that it's unnecessary and I think the deception will catch up with him eventually. For better or worse, there are plenty of authors who write bestsellers without any real qualifications, and they don't feel the need to lie about it.

If you can find any actual evidence that Mr. Achor (a) has a PhD (b) has ever been the actual instructor for a class at Harvard -- i.e., the one actually teaching the class, not just a teaching assistant (c) conducted ANY peer-reviewed scientific research that is cited in Happiness Advantage or (d) was ever a Professor at Harvard, I will stand corrected. Mr. Achor may have done a good job in making you think that some or all of these things are true, but if you dig a little deeper I think you will find that they are all false.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good As Far As It Goes, February 27, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
Up until the late nineties psychology was overly focused on the "sickness model" and treating mental illness. In "The Happiness Advantage" Shawn points out "as late as 1998, there was a 17-to-1 negative-to-positive ratio of research in the field of psychology. In other words, for every one study about happiness and thriving there were 17 studies on depression and disorder." The shift from sickness to wellness in the past 10 years has been dramatic. Search Amazon for books on happiness and you'll find over 22,000!

I am torn on how to review and rate this book. I was originally drawn to the book by its sub-title, "The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work." I am constantly looking for evidence of how "soft skills" produce hard results. As in my book, The Leader's Digest: Timeless Principles for Team and Organization Success we use this in our retreats and workshops to go through the heads of "hard-nosed and results-focused" operational executives and managers to get at issues of the heart.

"The Happiness Advantage" does have a fair bit of strong research showing the positive impact of employee happiness/satisfaction on organizational results. For example, Shawn produces powerful evidence that social support and nurturing relationships are major happiness factors. This is followed by an MIT study where researchers followed 2,600 employees at IBM for a year and showed that people with the strongest social connections had the highest performance. He also cites research showing that it takes a ratio of 2.9013 to 1 positive to negative interactions to make a team successful. A ratio of 6 - 1 creates optimum teamwork. When a global mining company was coached to increase their ratio from 1.15 to 3.56 positive to negative interactions production and performance increased by 40%!!

However, "The Happiness Advantage" is primarily aimed at increasing personal happiness. With Shawn's conversational writing style, solid research base, and plenty of engaging examples (such as his years helping his students at Harvard increase their happiness) the book is very useful. The Seven Principles form the book's core chapters and is a good framework:

The Happiness Advantage - retrain our brains to capitalize on positivity and improve productivity and performance.

The Fulcrum and the Lever - adjust our mindset (fulcrum) to give us the power (lever) to be more fulfilled and satisfied.

The Tetris Effect - spot patterns of possibility to see and seize opportunities wherever we look.

Falling Up - finding the mental path that leads up and out of failure and teaches us how to be happier and more successful from it.

The Zorro Circle - regain emotional control when overwhelmed by challenges by focusing on small manageable goals and gradually expanding our circle.

The 20-Second Rule - by making small energy adjustments we can reroute the path of least resistance and replace bad habits with good ones.

Social Investment - avoid retreating within ourselves during tough times and invest more in building our social support network to propel ourselves forward.

But as the old proverb teaches, "it's good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough." The field of positive psychology is rapidly moving beyond happiness to well-being and on to flourishing. This is a much deeper, lasting, and ultimately more fulfilling place. Happiness is a byproduct of well-being and flourishing but not the end goal. The founder of Positive Psychology (and the field's rock star), Martin Seligman's book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being is at the forefront of this radical rethinking of the flood of happiness research. Another excellent book that's more toward well-being and flourishing and surpasses the personal growth advice in The Happiness Advantage is Barbara Frederickson's Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life.

If Amazon allowed it, I'd rate "The Happiness Advantage" 3.6/5. It doesn't quite live up to its sub-title and deals with one dimension of our emotional health and well being. On the other hand, it is an entertaining summary of happiness research and applications. And its seven principles are well proven methods for dealing with life's setbacks, navigating difficult change, building resilience, and increasing optimism and happiness.

In reading and reviewing "The Happiness Advantage," I was struck - once again - by the point that whether for our own personal growth or leading others, it's not what we know that makes us effective. It's applying that knowledge that matters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very "Heady", June 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
If you are looking for a book on the analysis of Happiness. This is it.
If you are looking for getting into the "feeling" of happiness and moving
forward in your life. Don't buy this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Happiness is a work ethic", September 17, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Hardcover)
We all like being happy, but most of us don't realize how much we actually need to be happy. It's easy to continue to move ourselves down to the bottom of the priority list in order to take care of all the other things that matter in our lives. And yet as we continue to push our own health and happiness to the side, our performance, not to mention our sanity, often becomes an afterthought. The Happiness Advantage builds a very solid case that how we take care of ourselves significantly impacts our business. It is clearly the responsibility of anyone who wants to perform at high levels to pay attention to the benefits that come to them when they not only chose to be happy, but they make "happiness a work ethic". Thank you Shawn for bringing this information to us in a way that is easy to understand and apply to our daily routine. This is truly a fun, informative and life inspiring message.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 238 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xd98ad798)

This product

Only search this product's reviews
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.