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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

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                Last Updated on November 9, 2020

                10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

                Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

                Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

                If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

                Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

                1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

                Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

                Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

                Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

                2. No Motivation

                Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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                This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

                If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

                3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

                Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

                A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

                A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

                The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

                4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

                One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

                We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

                Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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                You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

                5. Upward Comparisons

                Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

                The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

                These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

                Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

                6. No Alternative

                This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

                Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

                Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

                Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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                7. Stress

                As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

                When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

                We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

                If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

                8. Sense of Failure

                People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

                Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

                Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

                If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

                9. The Need to Be All-New

                People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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                These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

                10. Force of Habit

                Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

                Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

                These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

                Final Thoughts

                These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

                There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

                More on Breaking Bad Habits

                Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
                [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
                [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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