Thursday, February 10, 2022




“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” 
— Albert Schweitzer

Life means your health. The healthier you are, the more life you experience. Better health not only lets you live out all the days of a longer life, it also lets you live more life in each and every one of those days. Poor health is like a cloudy, smoggy day: it cuts off the sunlight. Let your health get bad enough, and you lose your life altogether.

If you don’t have money handled, you don’t live free. Financial health gives you freedom; freedom to follow your passions, chase your pursuits, develop your skills and talents and gifts, to fulfill the promises of life itself.

How you realize happiness is by doing some simple things, and doing them every day.

Success doesn’t lead to happiness — it’s the other way around.

One of the most radical and remarkable things about the happiness research is the discovery that doing things that make you happy doesn’t just make you happier. It also makes your life work better.

Extensive research since 2000 has shown that people who are happier also:
  • have fewer strokes and heart attacks
  • have less pain and inflammation
  • have greater immune function and more resistance to viruses
  • develop more resilient personalities and handle adversity better
  • have better work performance and more professional success
  • have more fulfilling and longer-lasting marriages
  • have larger and more active social spheres
  • are more involved in their communities
  • are more altruistic and have a greater net positive impact on society
  • are more financially successful
  • live longer
Once you do what it takes to raise your everyday level of happiness, then you will become more successful, then you’ll become healthier. The more you raise your own happiness level, the more likely you’ll start achieving all those things you want to achieve.

“Be happy, and the reason will appear.”

The personal development movement has been driven largely by individual people’s personal experience and the teachings of compelling teachers, people like Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, and Jim Rohn. The happiness movement has a completely different genesis: it has been driven largely by scientific research. When you show up with the intellectual weight and credibility of academia and all this well-documented research in your back pocket, it opens doors you never could get through with personal development.

People really want to be happy. Far more people have a strong desire to be happy than a strong desire to develop themselves to a fuller potential. “Personal development” sounds to most people like work, and who wants to work harder than they are already working? But “happiness” doesn’t sound like work. It sounds like… well, it sounds like being happier.

For years I’d taught that your philosophy determines your attitude, which determines your actions. And those actions are what produce your results. For people to get the results they wanted, they simply needed to do the right actions. That’s the how-to’s. But you’re not going to do the right actions, day in and day out, unless you have the right philosophy, in other words, unless you fully grasp the importance and the power of simple daily actions: the slight edge philosophy. Once you have the slight edge philosophy, then you have the key to how to do the hows.

I knew how the equation worked: the right philosophy → the right attitude → the right actions

But there was this in-between step, this stepping stone from philosophy to action. This thing called attitude. Your attitude is the thing that translates your abstract understanding (philosophy) into your concrete actions. It’s like a gigantic synapse, where a nerve impulse has to make a biochemical leap from one nerve ending to another — and your attitude is what determines the quality of that leap.

Happiness. The perfect workout partner for the slight edge.

Happy habits don’t just make you happier. They also create exactly the attitude you need to make that synaptic leap from the slight edge philosophy to slight edge actions. 

In other words, now those actions start working for you. In every aspect of your life. Put the slight edge philosophy together with happy habits, and before long all the other how-to’s start working in your life, too. The better eating habits, the workout schedule, the attention to smarter financial habits, the greater learning and personal development, the stronger, healthier relationships, the progressive development of a life of powerful, positive impact — all of it. 

Here’s the equation: slight edge + happy habits = success 
It’s that simple.

Shawn teaches a set of five simple things you can do every day that, if you do them consistently over time, will make you significantly, noticeably, measurably happier. They are slight edge actions for happiness: happy habits.

1. Each morning, write down three things you’re grateful for. Not the same three every day; find three new things to write about. That trains your brain to search your circumstances and hunt for the positive.

2. Journal for two minutes a day about one positive experience you’ve had over the past twenty-four hours. Write down every detail you can remember; this causes your brain to literally reexperience the experience, which doubles its positive impact.

3. Meditate daily. Nothing fancy; just stop all activity, relax, and watch your breath go in and out for two minutes. This trains your brain to focus where you want it to, and not get distracted by negativity in your environment.

4. Do a random act of kindness over the course of each day. To make this simple, Shawn often recommends a specific act of kindness: at the start of each day, take two minutes to write an email to someone you know praising them or thanking them for something they did.

5. Exercise for fifteen minutes daily. Simple cardio, even a brisk walk, has a powerful antidepressant impact, in many cases stronger (and more long-lasting) than an actual antidepressant!

According to Shawn, if you do any one of these things faithfully for just three weeks, twenty-one days in a row, it will start to become a habit — a happy habit. You will have literally begun to rewire your brain to see the world in a different way, and as a result, to be happier on an everyday basis.

Other happiness researchers have different lists, including things like:
  • Make more time for friends.
  • Practice savoring the moment.
  • Practice having a positive perspective.
  • Put more energy into cultivating your relationships.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Engage in meaningful activities.
  • Practice simple acts of giving.
They all share similarities, and they are all drawn from the same body of research. Because I place a high value on personal development and learning, my list would include: Read at least ten pages of a good book daily.

Do these simple things consistently, every day, and in time — a lot less time than you might expect — you will become a significantly happier version of you. And that will make everything else in your life work better, too.

Essential Points from Chapter Seven

* Happiness is created by doing some simple, easy things, and doing them every day.

* Success does not lead to happiness, it’s the other way around: more happiness creates more success.

* Elevated levels of happiness create elevated levels of health, performance, social involvement, marital fulfillment, financial and career success, and longevity.

* Greater happiness is key to making the slight edge work in your life.

Shawn Achor’s five happy habits:

1. Every morning write down three new things you’re grateful for.

2. Journal for two minutes a day about a positive experience from the past 24 hours.

3. Meditate daily for a few minutes.

4. At the start of every day, write an email to someone praising or thanking them.

5. Get fifteen minutes of simple cardio exercise a day.

Slight Edge | Chapter 6

Slight Edge | Chapter 8

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