One of the most incredible things about happiness is that many people are still searching for it despite there being a wealth of knowledge on the subject. In fact, one of the large portions of self-improvement books could easily be devoted to happiness books—books about being happier and living a happier life.
While that could be a testament to how many of the books aren’t that helpful, there are definitely some diamonds underneath all of these books. Below I’ve sifted through the numerous happiness books and put together a list of books that are popular and cover this topic in the best way possible.
Before getting to this list of happiness books, here are the criteria that we’ve used to sift through the numerous books on happiness.
- Perspective – Because there are so many happiness books to pick from, perspective is one of the most valuable pieces here. Every person’s views of happiness and living a happier life vary, so it’s vital to find books that are outliers to traditional positivity books and blogs. This list will offer unique perspectives from many different people.
- Realistic Thinking – When people think about happiness or happy life, one of the first things to come to mind is visions of large houses or fancy cars. This way of thinking is old as many of the more prominent happiness books focus on a meaningful existence. A good way to think about this is that a good happiness book will get you to think realistically.
- Explorative – A happiness book will get you to look deeper at yourself and your way of thinking. It shouldn’t shy you away from that possibility or distract you with something else.
1. 10% Happier
One method that many people suggest when looking for happiness is meditation. Many people have sung praises about how meditation has changed their lives, and it is the one habit they encourage other people to do.
While meditation is great, many people still don’t quite understand it or can’t wrap their heads around it. This is where this book comes in. Dan Harris’s 10% Happier is an excellent book that provides a unique take on meditation. Instead of focusing on what many other bloggers have tried to explain in posts, Harris talks about meditation in a unique way.
2. The Happiness Project
One of the best happiness books you can pick up is this New York Times bestseller. It definitely deserves it as the author, Gretchen Rubin, spent an entire year of her life testing out various theories on what it means to improve your happiness.
Based on the year-long results, she begins to record her findings in this book to show what actually works and what doesn’t. It’s remarkable because when it comes to advice, we know there is a lot out there to sift through. And while Rubin isn’t going to be able to cover all of it, her insights may help you in finding more happiness in your own life.
Arianna Huffington, the owner of The Huffington Post, is a remarkable woman when you look at what she’s had to go through. In her book, Thrive, she shares her own medical and emotional crisis that pushed her to make a massive change in her own life.
Oftentimes, to be happier, it’s important to handle problems constructively. Whether you are in a rut or not in your life, there are definitely some problems that are nagging at you. This book could provide you with a new perspective on those problems and help you thrive.
4. Present Over Perfect
There are many blockades to people’s happiness, of course, but more often than not, they’re barriers that we place ourselves. One of the most common ones is perfectionist tendencies. Sometimes, you won’t make a move unless you are guaranteed to succeed. Or maybe, you spend too much time working on something to ensure it’s perfect in your own eyes.
These tendencies can get in the way a lot of the time and Shauna Niequist is all too familiar with it. It’s why she wrote this book. She had these perfectionist tendencies like many of us, and she spends a lot of time helping those in this situation live in a completely new way.
Of course, it’s not easy. As Niequist explains, the change requires courage, simplifying your life, and saying no to a lot of things. But through this book, the process can help you get in touch with your own self and mitigate these tendencies from your life, too.
5. The Art of Happiness
Published in 2009, this book was written by Dr. Cutler based on the interviews that he conducted with His Holiness the Dalai Lama—arguably the happiest and most loved individual in the world.
The interviews Dr. Cutler did back then lasted an entire week, and the two talked about the Dalai Lama’s personal sense of peace and happiness in the book. Through these interviews, the goal of this book is to help readers reach that same level—or get some new perspective on happiness.
On top of that, Dr. Cutler puts forward his own science-based views along with the Dalai Lama’s teachings, providing a fresh insight into what it means to be happy.
6. Authentic Happiness
Written by Martin Seligman in 2004, this book is still relevant to the matter of living a life with more happiness. Seligman is a psychologist and best-selling author who puts forward the idea that happiness is not a result of having the right genes or having to be lucky to achieve happiness.
According to Seligman, true and enduring happiness stems from paying attention to your own strengths rather than your perceived weaknesses. While that sort of advice is thrown around a lot—don’t focus on the bad, but the good—this book goes beyond stating the obvious and provides practical advice that is backed by psychological research.
Through the book, Seligman shares 24 strengths and virtues that form our own psyche. He then explains how to identify the ones that each person has and how to leverage them in every area of your life. By doing this, you can find yourself living happier and more authentic happiness.
7. Stumbling on Happiness
Written by Professor Daniel Gilbert, this is a happiness book that is both interesting and funny to read. The main focus of this book is based on the fact most of us don’t really know how to make ourselves happy.
For his research, he pulls from various fields of psychology, neuroscience, economics, and philosophy to explain why that’s the case and how we can stumble on our happiness through that information. He also explores other areas in this book that not many other happiness books will look into—human motivation.
8. The Happiness Trap
Dr. Russ Harris has a medical background with a major focus on stress management. He trains coaches, psychologists, doctors, and many other health professionals around the idea of mindfulness. Based on his own experiences, Dr. Harriss released this book in 2013.
In this easy-to-read self-help book, he provides practical and empowering methods to happiness in the form of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). In fact, ACT has been adopted as an approach to psychotherapy and has been getting plenty of research done on its effectiveness.
Beyond that, Dr. Harris explains the various myths and popular ideas around happiness and suggests that these are all misleading and inaccurate. He goes as far as saying those ideas and myths actually cause more stress, anxiety, and depression.
9. The Happiness Advantage
A lecturer at Harvard University and co-designer of Harvard’s ‘Happiness’ course, Shawn Achor reveals 7 core principles of positive psychology based on the largest studies of happiness and human potential ever—surveying over 1600 students.
Because the sample size is so large, it’s easy to see this book as a practical guide on legitimate ways to become happier.
10. Happiness Is an Inside Job
Written by Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., this book starts with two key questions:
- How is it possible to remain engaged with life day after day?
- How can we keep our minds in a happy mood and continue loving when life itself is complicated, challenging, and frequently disappointing?
Based on those two questions alone, you can tell this is an inspiring book that provides detailed advice and offers plenty of wisdom. Boorstein explores that despite all of the odds being against us, we can still find our own sense of happiness. This book is also based on over three decades of her work and offers sound advice on how we can live happier lives.
11. The Happiness Hypothesis
Written by another psychology teacher, this book is the first one written by Jonathan Haidt that’s available for a general audience. This book is particularly interesting in that it draws inspiration from both science and philosophy.
What the book aims to do is connect old ways of thinking to current beliefs and how that can impact our own happiness. For example, messages like “what doesn’t kill you make you stronger” or “happiness comes from within” could’ve been passed down from family member to family member.
The thing is, we often don’t question those truisms and we cling to those things among other ways of thinking. Examples are when we will feel truly happy if we earn more money, find our true love, or achieve some kind of big success. This book looks at all of this traditional wisdom and adds modern science to it in a unique way.
12. The Happiness Equation
Awarded an MBA from Harvard, Neil Pasricha is a prominent TED presenter and founded the Institute for Global Happiness. In this book, he reveals nine secrets of happiness and shows readers that to have everything you want in life, you should want nothing and do anything to achieve it.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this book for its counterintuitive way of thinking. However, it is refreshing to see a book that takes common ideals and presents them in a completely different light. All the while, the book provides good humor and wise practical advice along with it.
13. The Happiness Factor
The final book to cover is The Happiness Factor. Published in 2008, Kirk Wilkinson offers practical advice that is still relevant to this day.
For example, on page 33, Wilkinson writes, “Change the way you look at things… and the things you look at change.”
This quote alone provides some perspective on what this book has to offer—a perspective on how you can cope with adversity and overcome it to figure out true and lasting happiness. This book goes to great length to show us that we’re not all defined by the circumstances or problems that we face.
Despite the glut of happiness books available for reading, there are all kinds of unique perspectives on what it means to be happy. Many of these books will get you thinking more about what it means to be happy while providing sound advice to guide you through your own sort of issues. By doing that, perhaps you’ll find yourself getting closer to living a happier and more fulfilling life.
More Happiness Books
- 15 Positive Thinking Books You Need for a Happy Life
- 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life
- 14 Books That You Should Read When You Feel Lost In Life