97th Floor recently met again for our monthly book club meeting. This month, we read and discussed The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor. Achor is the founder of GoodThink, co-founder of The Institute for Applied Positive Research (with his wife Michelle Gielan), and advocate for the field of positive psychology.

After a meal of Greek kebabs and salad, we dove into the discussion. In his book, Achor lays out seven different principles of positive psychology:

  1. The Happiness Advantage
  2. The Fulcrum and the Lever
  3. The Tetris Effect
  4. Falling Up
  5. The Zorro Circle
  6. The 20-Second Rule
  7. Social Investment

While we would have loved to dive deeply into each one of these principles, we knew that time would be a constraint, and so those participating decided on a few specific points to focus in on:

The 20-Second Rule discusses the concept of making the things you want to accomplish easier to access, and making behaviors you want to avoid more difficult. Adding or removing as little as 20-seconds worth of effort has an impact on how likely or unlikely you are to engage in an activity.

The Tetris Effect cites a study in which people who played the popular puzzle game Tetris for prolonged periods of time would begin to see the world through that lens—imagining ways to rotate real-world objects in ways that they would fit together. The principle explores how people are able to train themselves into different mindsets. This includes viewing things in a positive light or a negative one. As you try to recognize positive circumstances, it becomes easier, and eventually, it becomes natural.

The Zorro Circle refers to a training method seen in the film The Mask of Zorro, wherein the student is placed within a series of concentric circles. The first circle is particularly small, but the student is instructed to consider his entire world to be contained within that circle, excluding everything outside of it. As the student masters that inner circle, he then progresses to larger and larger circles. As we master our own spheres of influence, not focusing on the things that we cannot change, then that sphere of influence grows. Rather than despairing of the things we cannot change, or the overwhelming amount of work ahead, we can take each step as it comes, and eventually reach our goals.

Social Investment was the last principle we were able to discuss before separating. Too often, when faced with trouble, people will isolate themselves from others. This principle discusses the detrimental nature of this tactic, as social investment often is what gives us the energy to follow through with our work. Genuine connection with other people fuels our work, while isolation taken to extremes often leads to loneliness and despair, both in our personal and professional lives.

Overall, there was a very positive response to the book, and we definitely recommend it. You can also view the author’s TED Talk.

Due to the holidays, we will be reading our next book over the course of December and January. This time, we will be reading Drive, by Daniel H. Pink. As always, you can follow the #97thbookclub hashtag on Twitter for updates.

Previous Book Club books:

Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull

REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson