7 books that will teach you how to be happy
“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.” — Valerie Bertinelli
If you ask anyone what they want out of life, most people will say that they want to be happy.
I bet that you want to be happy too.
In a recent survey Kathy Caprino found that happiness is the number one thing that people want out of life.
So, if happiness really is a choice…
and we all want to be happy…
why don’t we choose to be happy?
Can it be that we don’t know how to be happy?
Is happiness even a skill that we can learn?
I have found that one of the best way to learn a new skill is by reading books written by experts in the field, and I think is true for happiness too.
So, with that in mind here is my list of the seven best books to help you learn how to be happy.
Gretchen Rubin had an life changing realization one rainy afternoon on a city bus. She realized that she was not focusing on the things that mattered most.
This realization lead to her decision to spend the next year testing ideas about happiness from ancient times, the latest scientific research, popular culture, and common belief.
“Work harder to appreciate your ordinary day.” ― Gretchen Rubin
What she found was that you don’t have to quit your day job and move to Thailand to be happy. Simply making a series of very small changes can make a big difference in your life and your level of happiness.
Everyone should read The Happiness Project — it will teach you how to be happier without making huge changes in your life.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a 1-on-1 conversation with the Dalai Lama. To be able to ask him the most pressing questions of your life.
Why are so many people unhappy?
Why don’t people choose to be happy?
How can you be happy with your life?
Well this is exactly what psychiatrist Howard Cutler did. In a series of interviews, he asked the Dalai Lama howhe achieved inner peace, calmness, and happiness.
“We need to learn how to want what we have NOT to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness”― Dalai Lama XIV
What the Dalai Lama taught him was that you need to learn to be happy with what you have and not want what you don’t have.
Happiness should be the purpose of your existence, and there is a definite path that you can follow to achieve it.
The key is to identify the things that lead to both your suffering and your happiness. Then, eliminate the things that cause your suffering and develop the things that lead to your happiness.
3. 10% Happier
A decade ago, Dan Harris was was an ABC News television anchor reporting from war zones and anchoring national broadcasts.
After a panic attack on national television, he decided that it was time to find some answers. This led to a long journey into the science of stress and mindfulness.
Along the way, he interviewed Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Jewish Buddhists, and even the Dalai Lama before reluctantly giving in and trying meditation.
Investigating meditation as a reporter, he studied the neurological research and learned that meditation was being used in both the corporate world and the military to improve focus and clarity.
“There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.” ― Dan Harris
In this book, Dan shares his journey to find peace and balance through the power of meditation.If you have never tried meditation, this book is perfect for you.
It is a why to meditate and not a how to meditate that takes a purely scientific, down-to-earth approach to meditation and tells you why you should try it.
Do you know what makes you happy?
Daniel Gilbert would bet that you think you do, but you most likely would be wrong.
In this book, Gilbert, a Harvard professor, reveals how our minds work, and how the limitations of our imagination may get in the way of your ability to know what happiness is.
“People want to be happy, and all the other things they want are typically meant to be a means to that end.” ― Daniel M. Gilbert
In this 2006 New York Times bestseller, Gilbert tries to help you become more self-aware of these tricks your brain plays on you, so you can avoid them in the future and create your own happiness.
Conventional wisdom says that if you work hard, you will be more successful, and if you are more successful, then you’ll be happy.
The theory is that if you can find a great job, win a big promotion, and lose ten pounds, you will be happy. But recent research in the field of positive psychology shows that this formula is actually backward.
Happiness leads to success, not the other way around.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor uses data from his work with thousands of international executives to show you how you can reprogram your brain to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge in the world.
This book is a must-read for anyone trying to excel in a world of increasing workloads, stress, and negativity. It will teach you how to reap the rewards of a happier and more positive mind-set and to achieve extraordinary results in your live.
If you want to read only one book on this list — pick this one.
It is the most thorough analysis of how you can find happiness in our modern society, and it is backed by scientific research, real-life examples and it will even provide you with a formula for happiness.
Using the wisdom from the world’s greatest civilizations as a foundation, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt comes to terms with 10 “Great Ideas,” and views them through a modern filter to learn how you can apply their lessons to your life.
I personally liked the metaphor of a wild elephant and the rider that he uses to describe how our brain works. In it, Haidt describes the limbic brain as a wild elephant, with your neocortex being the rider, trying to control the elephant.
Unhappiness comes from the rider and the elephant disagreeing, and Haidt uses this metaphor to show you what you can do to close the gap between the two. As a bonus, Haidt will show you how to find meaning in your own life.
Until now, I have only shared books with you that show you how to be happy based on positive psychology. This book is different. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck does away with positive psychology and offers you a no BS approach to life.
Mark Mansonmanages to cut through the BS to show you that if you quit trying to be “positive,” you will actually become happier.
“F*ck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f*cked and we have to live with it.”
In his book, Manson advises you to get to know your limitations and accept them. Once you know your limitations, you can stop avoiding the painful truth and find the courage to improve your life.
Call To Action
If you want to be extraordinarily happy and create the life of your dreams, check out my checklist.
(P.S. I have included some Amazon affiliate links to help defray the ridiculously high cost of my daughter’s education)
This story first appeared on Medium.com