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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Happiness Advantage: it's so good I almost don't want to share it!


"Fresh Air" with Terri Gross is one of the best interview programs on radio. She interviews a wide and interesting variety of guests. Several weeks ago she interviewed a Harvard trained psychologist named Shawn Achor on his new book "The Happiness Advantage." What caught my attention was his persistent reference to hard research data on the productive value of happiness in the workplace and in life. His field of study is an emerging field of "positive psychology" that focusses less on the dysfunctions than on positive asset development: what works and how can it work better.
I ordered the book as soon as I got back to church and within a few days it arrived. I could not put it down. His argument is almost evangelistic: people can change their brains. Grumps do not need to resign being grumps. We can choose happiness. (Note: Achor began his studies at Harvard Divinity School!?!).
Achor proposes seven principles that can be immediately applied to bring more happiness (and productivity) into the reader's life (and work...and church).
1. The Happiness Advantage: he deconstructs the American myth that hard work brings success and success brings happiness. Happiness is the launching pad for success (sounds like grace!)
2. The Fulcrum and the Lever: our mindsets have an overwhelmingly powerful impact on our social reality
3. The Tetris Effect: what you "scan for" is what you see. If we are primed to see negative, it will "bleed" into every other relationship, so too with positive.
4. Falling Up: failure can be transformed into "post-traumatic growth"
5. The Zorro Circle: recovering small areas of control when life gets out of control
6. The 20 Second Rule: learning to leave passive leisure for active leisure, finding places for genuine reuvenation
7. Social Investment: the real power of being in relationships and healthy connections with others (a great argument for the value of small-group ministries!)

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