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Before Happiness

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Before Happiness

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


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

If you are open to happiness, you can take five steps to create lasting positive change.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Best-selling author Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches and conducts education-related research at Harvard University, discusses five basic skills you need to make sustainable positive changes in your life. He explains that happy people live longer and enjoy better health, higher productivity and greater success. These people generally see obstacles as temporary, while unhappy people tend to see roadblocks as permanent. Achor describes how to create an environment conducive to personal happiness that fosters lasting, satisfying change. He offers thorough data to back up his main points and most of his text is interesting, though some readers may find it somewhat academic. Nonetheless, presenting five concrete steps toward achieving happiness is a great practical achievement. getAbstract recommends Achor’s method to busy people who seek actual measures they can take to become happier.


To become happier, create a “positive reality” that encourages and enables happiness. Your levels of happiness and success derive from “your perception of your world.” No matter what is going on in your work or personal life, your positive reality opens the door to achieving positive change and becoming more content. When you consistently assemble your “cognitive, intellectual and emotional resources,” you will experience “positive genius…the greatest precursor of success, performance and even happiness.” Increase your aptitude for the positive genius that leads to happiness by developing five skills:

Skill 1: “Choose the Most Valuable Reality”

Being productive requires selecting the most valuable reality from the multiple realities available to you. Author Shawn Achor first learned this lesson in the US Navy. When his captain ordered him to make his submarine “dive,” suddenly the deck beneath his feet shifted to a steep 60-degree angle. He realized why the chairs were bolted to the floor! This “Angles and Dangles” drill is a common exercise for new recruits aboard Navy submarines.

The 2008 economic recession turned out to be a real-world angle-and-dangle drill...

About the Author

Shawn Achor wrote the international bestseller The Happiness Advantage. He spent 12 years at Harvard studying happiness. Achor travels the world lecturing and researching. His TED Talk on happiness has 14.6 million views.

Comment on this summary

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    T. G. 6 years ago
    Great summary. Bought the book.
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    D. C. 6 years ago
    In reply to Ashish Agarwal, I guess the authority tried to highlight the fact you can always see things from a different angle, and it is in your hands to pick up a positive reality that is present in every circumstances.
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    j. w. 7 years ago
    #30DaysOfSummaries "create a positive reality" is what I feel most of this summary, and it can be an effective way to approach success and happiness.