We post these questions as a starting point for your discussion.
Printable versions of each guide are available on the right.
1) In Before Happiness, Shawn discusses how our prior notions of reality can often cloud our perceptions of what is possible. What were your notions about happiness before reading this book? What changed after reading
2) Which of the five hidden keys resonated the most with you? As a group, can you think of specific life examples that prove each point?
3) In the concluding chapter of Before Happiness, Shawn provides examples of geniuses who came up with their revolutionary ideas while NOT focusing on a problem. Can you think of a time when you did this successfully? How can you find time to allow your unconscious brain to find solutions?
4) The University of Virginia study Shawn cites suggests that weights become heavier and hills appear steeper when we are negative. What hills are you facing that you see differently based upon this book?
5) In the “Angles and Dangles” story, Shawn shared how he had to learn to reorient his perspective of reality on a submarine. Do you ever feel like you are trying to stand up straight in a crooked world? Discuss what patterns you feel exist in the world that make standing up difficult.
6) Shawn introduces Michelle Gielan’s concept of a Power Lead: starting a conversation on a positive note to sustain positive change in your life. Have you attempted to use the power lead in your life since reading the book? If so, how has it worked? Did you notice subtle responses from those with whom you were talking?
7) How do you get someone who is resistant to positive change to become open to hearing this research?
1. Which of the 7 principles resonated the most with you? (And which didn’t?)
2. What are three quick things you could do to prime your brain to be positive before attempting a difficult task during your daily routine?
3. Do you practice “frequent praise and recognition” with your employees (or family)? And when you do praise someone, do you focus only on the outcome, or on the process as well?
4. What kind of tone do you usually use when delivering instructions to your employees (or family members)? Have you noticed whether that makes a difference in their performance? How might you adopt a more positive tone, that still feels authentic to your own personality and motivational style?
5. Have you ever gotten stuck in a negative Tetris Effect? How did that affect your life and work? The next time this happens, what are some ways you might get out of it? Are there things you and your colleagues/friends could do to help each other avoid this trap?
6. Does your work team (or family) function above the Losada Line? In other words, do you have at least a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative in your team interactions? Have you noticed how your ratio correlates to your team’s success? What are some ways you could raise the ratio?
7. Did Shawn mention a positive habit in the book that you have already made an important part of your life? (Could be exercise, meditation, gratitude, journaling, etc) What benefits do you receive from this positive habit? Share your habits with each other, as well as your tricks for making sure they stick.
8. Pick one positive activity that Shawn mentions in the book that you’d like to turn into a habit over the next 21 days. How could you use the 20 Second Rule to lower the “activation energy” of that activity?
9. Now think of one negative habit that you’d like to curtail. How might you raise the “activation energy” required for that activity, so that you’re less likely to do it?
10. All 7 principles are important, but research has shown that the 7th one–Social Investment–is perhaps the most crucial to long term happiness, health, and success. How socially cohesive is your work team (or volunteer group, mom group, etc.)? What is one way you might increase the number of high-quality connections you have during your daily routines?
11. Does your work (in the home or out of the home) allow you the time and energy to cultivate meaningful relationships? What is one (small) thing you could in your daily life to strengthen one of these relationships?