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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

13 Best Happiness Books For Living A Happier Life

13 Best Happiness Books For Living A Happier Life

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.

    Buy 10% Happier here.

    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.

      Buy The Happiness Project here.

      3. Thrive

        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.

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        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.

        Buy Thrive here.

        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.

          Buy Present Over Perfect here.

          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.

            Buy The Art of Happiness here.

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            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.

              Buy Authentic Happiness here.

              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.

                Buy Stumbling on Happiness here.

                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.

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                  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.

                  Buy The Happiness Trap here.

                  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.

                    Buy The Happiness Advantage here.

                    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.

                      Buy Happiness Is an Inside Job here.

                      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.

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                        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.

                        Buy The Happiness Hypothesis here.

                        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.

                          Buy The Happiness Equation here.

                          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.

                            Buy The Happiness Factor here.

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                            Final Thoughts

                            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

                            Featured photo credit: Josh Felise via unsplash.com

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                            Published on May 18, 2021

                            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                            We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

                            The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

                            Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

                            Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

                            Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

                            There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

                            Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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                            Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

                            We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

                            Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

                            A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

                            The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

                            Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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                            Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

                            Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

                            Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

                            While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

                            Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

                            These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

                            Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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                            Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

                            Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

                            Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

                            Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

                            Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

                            Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

                            As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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                            This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

                            Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

                            Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

                            These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

                            Actions Speak Louder Than Words

                            Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

                            Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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                            Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

                            More Tips Improving Listening Skills

                            Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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