I have an unhappy friend. She has been unhappy for decades. Until now I've had a hunch (and I know I was wrong) that she was proud of her unhappiness and needed it. She's brilliant, runs a successful business, has good friends and clever men who adore her. It's been impossible for me to truly understand her or for her to understand happy people. She firmly believes most people are luckier than she is, and that a few bad choices have ruined her life forever. She has rejected out of hand any alternative view of her life.
Now I've read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. It brings together research in psychology, neuroscience and business, exposing the false premise most people live by. It's not a self-help book, but one of those short, popular business books, subtitled The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work.
Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we'll be happy. But in fact it's the other way around, says Achor: happiness fuels success. It is a strong predictor of success in business as well as health, longevity, good relationships and more. What's more, we can change those destructive habits and mind-sets that perpetuate our misery.
Lately I've sensed that my friend really does desperately want to walk away from her unhappiness. So I am going to suggest we work our way through this book chapter by chapter, examining how it applies to our own lives. I think she might be pleased with this project, and it will be rewarding for me too.