Book Category: Leadership, Motivational,

Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change (book summary)

Author: Shawn Achor
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Universally applicable, great takeaways
cons: Occasionally simplistic
overall rating

QUICK SUMMARY: Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change provides a simple, yet profound, five-step process for developing a perspective on life that emphasizes positives over negatives. Supported by research and anecdotes, Before Happiness confirms that a positive outlook is the foundation necessary for a happy and successful life.

We recommend Before Happiness to anyone who wants to transform their entire life, from the inside out.


1. In order to be happy and successful, you must believe that happiness and success are possible.

2. A positive outlook is not the same as delusional optimism.

3. A positive outlook is the belief that change is possible.

4. The human brain can only process a tiny percentage of the sensory information it receives.

5. Creating a positive outlook involves consciously selecting the most valuable information to absorb.

6. Pessimists see a half-empty glass, optimists see a half-full glass, positive geniuses see a pitcher on the table to refill glass.


1. Choose the most valuable reality: See multiple realities and select the one that leads to positive growth.

2. Map meaning markers: Chart the best route to accomplish goals, including mile-markers (meaning markers) to track progress.

3. Find the X-spot: Once a person gets 70% done with a goal, adrenaline and other accelerants kick-in. Celebrate the 70% point in projects.  Set mini-goals for more x-spots.

4. Cancel the noise: Boost the signal that points to greater opportunities, possibilities, and resources by limiting the amount of non-essential information.

5. Create positive inception: Amplify the effects of a positive mindset by transferring a positive outlook to others. Body language is contagious. When appropriate, be the first to speak in a conversation because the first to speak often sets the tone of the conversation.


Happiness is not about being blind to the negatives in our environment; it’s about believing we have the power to do something about them.

Success, then, is not just about how much intelligence you have; it’s about how much of your intelligence you believe you can use.

Interested? Buy the book here!