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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

13 Best Happiness Books For Living A Happier Life

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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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                            Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                            How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                            How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                            You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                            Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                            Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                            Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                            1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                            According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                            “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                            Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                            Warming up

                            If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                            If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                            Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                            1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                            2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                            3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                            Stay hydrated

                            Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                            To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                            Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                            Meditate

                            Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                            Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                            Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                            Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                            2. Focus on your goal

                            One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                            Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                            Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                            Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                            If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                            3. Convert negativity to positivity

                            There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                            ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                            It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                            Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                            Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                            Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                            4. Understand your content

                            Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                            However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                            “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                            Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                            Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                            One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                            5. Practice makes perfect

                            Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                            In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                            Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                            6. Be authentic

                            There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                            Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                            Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                            To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                            With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                            Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                            7. Post speech evaluation

                            Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                            Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                            We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                            You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                            Improve your next speech

                            As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                            Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                            • How did I do?
                            • Are there any areas for improvement?
                            • Did I sound or look stressed?
                            • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                            • Was I saying “um” too often?
                            • How was the flow of the speech?

                            Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                            If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                            Reference

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