Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change

Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change

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by Shawn Achor

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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


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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

Kirkus Reviews
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.

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The Crown Publishing Group
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Random House
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3 MB

Meet 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
all these ratings posted on September 10?, Hmmmm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
X marks the Spot: this book is a treasure.  Shawn Achor revolutionizes the ways we pursue goals with the application of research from the field of positive psychology.  Shawn writes about a concept called the X-spot, where the brain literally kicks into overdrive as it nears a goal.  He gives several strategies for training the brain to accelerate towards goals faster, and I can only imagine the number of manager, coaches and teachers who will find these strategies invaluable and indispensable to their work.  Kudos on another great book Shawn!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is Genius!  Shawn Achor has written another mind-blowing book that is certain to challenge your notion of the world.  A must-read for anyone serious about pursuing success. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From his TED talk, I think that Shawn Achor must be a funny guy. And in this book he keeps that same sense of humor and presents the concepts of positive psychology in a fun and easy to understand manner. I've read his first book THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE too and wasn't sure what else he could add in a second book. He calls this a prequel to that first book and I really enjoyed getting inside his head to see why he felt the need to write a second book (beyond the publish or perish mentality). Knowing that he feels "research is useless unless it is lived" brought the stories and studies in this book to life. My favorite part was about distinguishing what the noise is in our's hard to figure out what that is, but I have my hand written notes on that section posted above my computer to help me keep his tips in mind and hopefully have a better daily focus. I recommend this book if you HAVE already read his first book or if you HAVEN'T, I think it's a great read for anyone looking to have a better outlook on life. ....or even those that aren't (yet) looking to be happier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being HAPPY is so much important and this book tells how to get you that straight. Shawn talks (yes this book is almost as though he talking to us like in his TEDs. You never feel you are reading) about having a view ahead but with possibilities not impossibilities in mind. Nice read. Recommend to all those 'attempting' (not trying) something new in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm only halfway through the book, so the end verdict is still out. At this point, I am still struggling to understand some terms he uses, like "meaning marker." From what I gather, it means the meaning you give to your goals, why they are important to you. He talks about mapping a lot. One of his tips is to take this map you've drawn of everything in your world and rearrange it. I'm not sold that this will make me see things in new ways. It just seems like a workshop exercise, not anything that would give you real insight. Still, I'm, picking up some good ideas about positive thinking and evidence-based practice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must admit I fully I expected this book to be chock-full of scientifically validated research and evidence supporting Achor’s book principles.  His latest book did not disappoint.   However, as dry and uninteresting most books are in this field, my expectations were surpassed with how enjoyable this book was.  Achor has an uncanny ability to make this subject not only interesting but also fun.  I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how this book is written with studies and facts. He sticks to the facts and doesn't speak overly opinionated. Author also has good sense of humor:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hardcopycards More than 1 year ago
This book is an absolute pleasure in addition to being a treasure chest of information. A true eye opener that will assist you in opening doors you thought were beyond your reach. I highly recommend it to any one who wants to improve their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all kinds of self help, and I feel like I've heard it all. Maybe cause of his teaching background from Harvard, but Achor was able to weave in all this interesting info from psychology if never come across before. This book is really good. Lots of great ideas to implement with kids too. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE and I love BEFORE HAPPINESS just as much.  Shawn Achor completely delivers on the promise to  show us  that positive change is possible.  The strategies provided include success mapping, success accelerants, and how to transfer these skills to your teams and employees - all of which will provide improved business results in any  organization. I highly recommend this book to .everyone looking to increase success for themselves and their employees.