So, when I came across the new release "Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys To Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, And Sustaining Positive Change" by Shawn Anchor I knew this was one I just had to review.
This useful book comes in just over 270 pages but really strikes a balance not being too deep and unwieldy nor too light and fluffy. I was able to get 80% of the value out of this book in 2-hours on my first read, but certainly getting through it in detail may take you a week or more as there is much material here to benefit from.
The book is structured into 5 Keys, each covered via multiple chapters to explain different aspects of the keys to happiness.
The 5 Keys with a brief breakdown are:
1. Choose Your Most Valuable Reality
Anchor revisits the common initial step to any change in life which is the introspective exercise of questioning your assumptions of what is real. He gives a great example of his time on a submarine where your brain gets used to right-side-up, not until he performed a maneuver that made the submarine tilt did everything previously thought "real" was flipped on its head.
Of course the challenge here is always for us to have enough motivation (or sometimes even no choice due to tragedy or extreme circumstances in our lives) to alter our reality and present new potential.
Anchor does realize this and offers some very useful tips on how to both disrupt our current semblance of reality AND makes the very important point that we must choose from many realities in our lives to identify the realities that are most important and aligned with our goals moving forward.
2. Re-orient Your Path – Meaning Makers
This is the section I'm guessing you will relate to the most, I certainly did. Anchor talks of many different "meaning makers" that we use to prioritize meaning and thus make choices each day…there are thousands of meaningful things each day – but that often these meaning makers we choose are the wrong ones, or at least, not the most important ones.
His suggestion is to learn to recognize those meaning makers that have the biggest emotional impact for you…that gives you a big clue on what your priorities should be.
Anchor also delves into some intro-level neuro science in this section as he talks about the role of the "jerk" (the emotionally driven amygdala portion of your brain) and the "thinker" referring to the front cortex of the brain that represents logical thinking – helping to explain why we need to tap into and control our emotional brain power to drive our logical instead of the other way around.
People will love this section – as we are all constantly looking for ways to speed up our path to getting what we want in life – get information quicker, gain instant satisfaction, eat in a rush, looking for the faster, easier techniques. This section is a very good study into how you can accelerate the pace of change in your life.
Specifically, he goes into 3 areas where you can accelerate your path to becoming happy 1) clarity and specificity of your target 2) make your targets perceived as larger and easier to obtain 3) alter your perception of the effort required to reach your target
This section of Before Happiness by Shawn Anchor is worth the price of the book (and more) alone…these are tips you can use immediately to speed up reaching any goal you have in life in areas of life, relationships, finance or overall emotional happiness.
4. Stop The Noise
As is the case with any work that helps people improve their lives, you must deal with resistance. In this case, Shawn Anchor refers to the most dire form of resistance as noise – hard not to agree with him there.
What I particularly liked about this section was not only did the author make the point about how disruptive and negative noise can be on making progress, but he goes further teaching us how addicted we can become to that noise to the point where we literally become programmed to live in a constant state of noise where making substantial progress on becoming more happy is nearly impossible. Thankfully, he offers some very practical tips for snapping out of this "addicted to noise" mindset
5. Sharing, Transferring and Making A Social Difference
In this section of the book Anchor chooses to make the point that once you make substantial change in your own life, become happier and know how to apply principles 1-4 that you can then "franchise" that system for helping to make substantial change in your own world.
Some may see this section as a rather substantial leap from where they are today and perhaps not even necessary to the point of this book but I choose to view it as absolutely essential both as a description of how someone can impact the world in a positive way by first focusing on getting their own life in order AND as a commentary on how the sum of unhappy, mis-aligned individuals equals the same in wider society explaining some of the more negative aspects of today's social situation.
My final rating is definitely a 4 out of 5 start review…"Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys To Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, And Sustaining Positive Change is well worth the read and is one of those rare books that does a great job of balancing information with practical tips that you can apply to making significant change in your happiness level immediately.
If you have read the book and would like to comment, we would love to hear from you.