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7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life

7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life

These days, it seems like there’s a new spirituality book that comes out almost every other day. The problem with some of these so-called “spirituality” books, is that they only make sense to the author… because more often than not, these types of books are filled to the brim with enough pseudo-science and psycho-babble to shoot a sci-fi film.

And if you’re reading this article, I’d venture to guess that you’re not looking for fictional books about spirituality. That said, today we’ll be outlining a powerful list of 7 science-backed books about spirituality that will (hopefully) help you make some positive strides in the spiritual department.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

#1. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

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science-backed spirituality books

    If you’re a skeptic by nature, then this is the book for you. 10% Happier was written by news anchor, Dan Harris. In the book, he chronicles his run-ins with over-the-top self-help gurus (like the quacks behind The Secret)—and cross-references their claims with science to determine whether they held up or not. Along the way, he uncovers the intersection of where science meets spirituality.

    #2. Waking Up by Sam Harris

    science-backed spirituality books

      Waking Up is a book that attempts to position itself as the guide to spirituality without religion. Written by a controversial atheist-neuroscientist named Sam Harris (no relation to the guy from the book above)—the author provides a nice mash up of personal storytelling to back up his heavy-hitting—science-backed—arguments about why spirituality isn’t something fluffy… but rather, when one seeks spirituality in the proper context (ex: practicing mindfulness), science has proven over and over that it has a dramatic improvement on the quality of an individual’s life.

      #3. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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      science-backed spirituality books

        My wife is a professional dancer and choreographer, and ever since the day I met her, she’s sworn up and down that she feels like she’s closest to her Creator when she immerses herself in the world of dance. To her, it doesn’t matter whether she’s performing on stage herself, or if she’s choreographing a number for her students… every time she’s doing something related to the art of dance, she ends up in this peak state of consciousness — where hours fly by like minutes, and everything is happening exactly the way it should be. This is known as flow. And anyone can cultivate it—including you—regardless of what you do for work. Get the book to learn how.

        #4. Real Magic by Dr. Wayne Dyer

        science-backed spirituality books

          You might be wondering how in the world it could make any logical sense at all to include a book titled Real Magic in an article about science-backed spirituality books. If I were you, I’d be asking questions, too. So here’s the deal with why this book made the list: it’s grounded with mountains of research that prove the efficacy of the ideas presented by the author, Dr. Dyer. Ideas about the power of meditation and mindfulness. And how much of an impact they can have on our overall well-being and happiness.

          #5. Uncovering Happiness by Elisha Goldstein

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          science-backed spirituality book

            Uncovering Happiness is a book about a more compassionate approach to dealing with the ever-expanding number of psychological ailments that pervade modern society… Depression and anxiety are at an all time high, and our doctors are behaving like legal drug dealers — trying to solve these psychological ailments with prescription after prescription, which of course, act as nothing more than short-term solutions for long-term problems. In this book, author Elisha Goldstein pulls back the curtain and helps us uncover our happiness — not with pills and prescriptions — but with self-compassion and mindfulness… and the best part? Dr. Goldstein’s got the scientific research to prove the efficacy of this treatment for long-term health, happiness, and wellbeing.

            #6. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

            science backed spirituality books

              Optimism plays an essential role in getting your spirituality game together. This is because optimism leads to happiness… think about it: how many angry + unhappy spiritual people do you know? Personally, I can’t really name any off the top of my head (and “religious” people don’t count). The reason behind this is because they’ve learned to cultivate optimism in their lives — which happens to be closely tied to faith—not religion—but faith. Learn more in Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism — it’s crammed with nearly three decades of science-backed research on the power of optimism and the role it plays in developing happiness, meaning, and spirituality in our lives.

              #7. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

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              best science backed spirituality books

                Meditations is filled with Stoic wisdom that’s just as applicable to the world we live in today, as it was when it was when it was first written 1,800 years ago! The remarkable thing about the advice in this book, and the reason it shows up on this list, is because a vast portion of the spiritual principles that were practiced and written down so many centuries ago, have since been confirmed by science to be effective on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Find out more by picking up a copy of this age-old text to see if you can bring a little old-school Stoic wisdom to the 21st century.

                Which book will you read first?

                Now that you’ve got this list of 7 science-backed books about spirituality — there’s only one question left… Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? Or should you take a lifetime to read them? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

                • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashBooks to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
                • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
                • If you’re in a rush, try Audio books, or Audio summaries.
                • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                More by this author

                Dean Bokhari

                Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

                How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life 7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) How to Avoid Procrastination and Get Your Work Done 11 Ways to Be Productive And Happy At Once 10 Best Career Books To Help You Do Work You Love

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                Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                Feeling tired all the time?

                Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                Unfortunately, yes!

                Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                Symptoms of fatigue include:

                • Difficulty concentrating
                • Low stamina
                • Difficulty sleeping
                • Anxiety
                • Low motivation

                These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                2. Exercising regularly
                3. Using stressbusters
                4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                L — Living Healthy

                Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                1. Unplug

                Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                2. Unwind

                Do something to relax.

                Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                3. Get Comfortable

                Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                E — Exercise

                Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                That’s what happened in my case.

                But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                That made sense to me.

                So, I decided to swim.

                I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                A — Attitude

                Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                Breathing.

                But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                N — Nutrition

                Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                The Bottom Line

                If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                • Regular Exercise You Love
                • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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