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Before Happiness
Cover of Before Happiness
Before Happiness
The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change
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Why are some people able to make positive change while others remain the same? 

In his international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard trained researcher Shawn Achor described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. This book is about what comes before both. Because before we can be happy or successful, we need to first develop the ability to see that positive change is possible. Only once we learn to see the world through a more positive lens can we summon all our motivation, emotion, and intelligence to achieve our personal and professional goals.

In Before Happiness, Achor reveals five actionable, proven strategies for changing our lens to positive:
 
- The Most Valuable Reality: See a broader range of ideas and solutions by changing the details on which your brain chooses to focus 
- Success Mapping: Set goals oriented around the things in life that matter to you most, whether career advancement or family or making a difference in the world
- The X-spot: Use success accelerants to propel you more quickly towards those goals, whether finishing a marathon, reaching a sales target, learning a language, or losing 10 pounds
- Noise-Canceling: Boost the signal pointing you to opportunities and possibilities that others miss
- Positive Inception: Transfer these skills to your team, your employees, and everyone around you 
 
By mastering these strategies, you’ll create an renewable source of positivity, motivation, and engagement that will allow you to reach your fullest potential in everything you do.
Why are some people able to make positive change while others remain the same? 

In his international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard trained researcher Shawn Achor described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. This book is about what comes before both. Because before we can be happy or successful, we need to first develop the ability to see that positive change is possible. Only once we learn to see the world through a more positive lens can we summon all our motivation, emotion, and intelligence to achieve our personal and professional goals.

In Before Happiness, Achor reveals five actionable, proven strategies for changing our lens to positive:
 
- The Most Valuable Reality: See a broader range of ideas and solutions by changing the details on which your brain chooses to focus 
- Success Mapping: Set goals oriented around the things in life that matter to you most, whether career advancement or family or making a difference in the world
- The X-spot: Use success accelerants to propel you more quickly towards those goals, whether finishing a marathon, reaching a sales target, learning a language, or losing 10 pounds
- Noise-Canceling: Boost the signal pointing you to opportunities and possibilities that others miss
- Positive Inception: Transfer these skills to your team, your employees, and everyone around you 
 
By mastering these strategies, you’ll create an renewable source of positivity, motivation, and engagement that will allow you to reach your fullest potential in everything you do.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book the power of positive genius

    Before I was born, my father, who was a neuroscientist at UCLA at the time, made me an unwilling subject of one of the very first EEG experiments conducted on an unborn child. He and his colleagues hooked up electrodes to the belly of my very pregnant (and clearly very patient) mom to see if they could detect and analyze my brain wave patterns. The tests failed (I’m not sure what that says about my brain), but some influences in our lives run deep. Even before birth, I was wired for a love of psychology and science.

    A mere six years later, I willingly volunteered for another neuro­science experiment, which, though of course I had no way of knowing it at the time, would ultimately lead to the writing of this book. By that point my father was a professor at Baylor University. All of my babysitters happened to be students from his introductory psychology classes, and I was in love with all of them. But as I slowly started realizing that my relationships with them weren’t going as well as I’d hoped (for instance, my parents had to pay the girls at the end of the date), I decided—after observing the successes of Ariel in The Little Mermaid—that I would need to become part of their world. So I asked my dad if I could be part of one his classroom demonstrations. He was so excited that his son might be following in his footsteps that he didn’t stop to wonder if I had ulterior motives—as indeed I did.

    Regardless, he brought me to Baylor University for one of his famous lectures. I remember sitting in the bulky, brown brain wave machine in front of the class as he attached electrode after electrode to my scalp with conductive jelly. I didn’t care; I was just happy because all of my girlfriends’ eyes were on me.

    But in his excitement about having his son in class, my dad made a simple mistake. He forgot to ground the wire and left it lying across a copper strip on the floor. When he turned on the machine, the current passed right through me—it was as though I had stuck my finger in a socket. To this day, I don’t blame my dad for shocking me. I do blame him for laughing along with the entire class as I angrily pulled off all my electrodes and strode off with as much indignation as a six-year-old could muster.

    Not surprisingly, I never did get to date any of his students. But I am grateful to my dad nonetheless for hooking me up to that torture machine, because his experiments gave me a lifelong fascination with studying how the brain perceives the world. That evil instrument was a primitive evoked potential machine, a device that records the electrical activity along the scalp, thus allowing neuroscientists to measure and record levels of activity in the brain as it processes stimuli from the external world.

    Look around at the people in your office, on the subway, sitting across from you at the cafe. Have you ever wondered if the world you see is the same one they see? Have you worked with a stressed manager who constantly points out only the flaws and none of the good, or spent time with a relative during the holidays who complains about everything despite being surrounded by love, and thought to yourself: How could they possibly see the world that way?

    The reason some people see the world so differently from others is that the human brain doesn’t just take a picture of the external world like a camera; it is constantly interpreting and processing the information it receives. Every time the world provides us with information, whether the report of a down stock market, a stressful e-mail, or a smiling coworker, our brains expend energy...
About the Author-
  • Shawn Achor, a member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, 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. His research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his TED talk is one of the most popular all time with over 7 million views, and his lecture airing on PBS has been seen by millions. Shawn teaches for the Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, and collaborates on research with Yale and Columbia University.
     
    In 2007, Shawn founded Good Think to share his research with the world. Subsequently, Shawn has lectured or researched in 51 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. In 2012, Shawn helped lead 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. 

    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.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2013
    A happiness researcher investigates why some people can embrace positivity while others are mired in pessimism. Expanding on the theories he presented in The Happiness Advantage (2010)--primarily, that a "happy brain" can lead to greater professional and personal success--Achor now turns his attention to the question of how people learn to accept the possibility of happiness in the first place. Happiness, the author claims, is not the same as blind optimism but rather the ability to focus on the positive aspects of a situation while not becoming overwhelmed by the challenges. Yet how do those prone to negativity train themselves to have a more positive outlook? Achor breaks it down to a five-step process: learning to see the most "valuable reality" in a given situation; planning or "mapping" a course that will lead to success; using tools to view a goal as more achievable; cancelling out negative "noise"; and sharing or "franchising" this newfound happiness with others. Achor's unnecessary use of invented jargon ("reality architecture," "success accelerants," "meaning markers") makes the book seem more convoluted than it is. By far, the most helpful components are not his theoretical arguments but his examples and applications. Drawing from his stint in the Navy and at Harvard, as well as his experiences as a business speaker, Achor is able to offer specific instances to support his claims. Of course, the concept that positive thinking can lead to a better life is not news, but Achor takes it a step further by offering easy-to-follow activities that can help one view life more positively. While business leaders may have an interest in the author's research, the book seems less applicable to organizations than to individuals, especially those navigating the current economy. Advice that goes beyond generalized assertions by providing a set of useful tasks designed to inspire a happier outlook on life.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2013
    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 prosociali.e., for othersand shift your attitude. Use a treasure map, a way to chart your success path. Keep your eyes on the beach, not the rocks. Exerciseto 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • The Washington Times "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"
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Before Happiness
Before Happiness
The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change
Shawn Achor
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