Best Books on Happiness Cover

The 33 Best Books on Happiness for 2020

Each year a group of experts gets together with the support of companies like Gallup to identify the current global state of happiness. It’s called the World Happiness Report and it comes out yearly on March 20, the International Day of Happiness.

This sounds like a positive thing, but examining trends since 2005 we find that happiness is decreasing and negative feelings like sadness and anger are on the rise. What’s worse is that we’re seeing a rising trend in younger people experiencing mental illness, addictions, and their aftermath. 

You know too well what makes you unhappy, and the evidence from this research is clear that you’re only getting more of it. You probably already know how tough it is to stay afloat mentally with everything going on in the world these days. It’s no wonder that you crack when the slightest problem arises. And yet, you feel bad for not knowing how to handle it all and slip further into a state of sadness. 

How do we harness the power of happiness to fight our common enemy of unhappiness?

Is the art of joy lost forever?

Luckily there are dozens of books to teach you about happiness from the perspective of science, history, philosophy, and mindfulness, just to name a few.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 700 books, so we know a thing or two about the best books on happiness and we want to help you get the information from these authors to find out what you can do to have more joy in your life. 

There are plenty of experts and other experienced individuals who have shared their findings and stories on the subject. We’re here to help you find them so you can use their tools to become happier too. 

Whether you’re feeling desolate or just disappointed by life’s inconveniences, these books are going to change your life forever!

Table of Contents

Best Books on Happiness Overall

1. Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat

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The Book in One Sentence

Solve For Happy lays out a former Google engineers formula for happiness, which shows you not only that it’s our default state, but also how to overcome the obstacles we face in remaining in it.

Why do we like it?

What could be a better way of understanding what it takes to be happy than going through something tragic and still deciding to be happy? Mo Gawdat’s first-hand experience with suddenly losing his 21-year-old son Ali, then choosing happiness instead of sadness is just one reason we love this book. But what made Gawdat’s choice an obvious one was the formula that he and Ali had been working on for years: “Happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life minus your expectation of how life should be.” This incredible book shows you why your perspective, more than anything else, determines your happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your inner voice is not the real you.
  2. Many cognitive filters prevent you from seeing the whole world around you.
  3. No matter if life is good or bad, staying in the present always makes you feel more content with it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Stumbling On Happiness by Dan Gilbert

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The Book in One Sentence

Stumbling On Happiness examines the capacity of our brains to fill in gaps and simulate experiences, shows how our lack of awareness of these powers sometimes leads us to wrong decisions, and how we can change our behavior to synthesize our own happiness.

Why do we like it?

This book is cool because it looks at happiness from a different angle-examining how your brain tries to lie to you, specifically regarding what will happen in the future. Dan Gilbert’s years of research identifies just how our minds trick us into worrying, which makes us unhappy with our decisions even before we make them. It turns out that a big key to happiness is figuring out how to tell the difference between fact and fiction!

Key Takeaways

  1. Your brain is really bad at filling in the blanks, but it keeps on trying.
  2. You should always compare products based on value, never on past price.
  3. Bad experiences are better than no experiences.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

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The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Advantage turns the tables on happiness, by proving it’s a tool for success, instead of the result of it, and gives you 7 actionable principles you can use to increase both.

Why do we like it?

We can’t say enough good about this book. It’s a life-changer that everybody should read. Shawn Achor’s research helped him reveal the lies in the conventional idea that hard work and success lead to happiness. He’s identified, with science, that happiness comes first, then you will become successful. And his book identifies several ways that you can start being happier right now.

Key Takeaways

  1. Happiness comes before success, not after it.
  2. You can train yourself to be optimistic with “The Tetris Effect”.
  3. Fall up instead of down.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

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The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Hypothesis is the most thorough analysis of how you can find happiness in our modern society, backed by plenty of scientific research, real-life examples and even a formula for happiness.

Why do we like it?

This fantastic book dives into the neurological aspects that contribute to happiness, but with a twist. Haidt doesn’t just use medical terms like neocortex and limbic system. Instead, he employs the memorable analogy of a rider on an elephant to help us understand how we can make our brain work right to make us happy. You’ll find yourself going “hey, now I understand why I have that negative thinking pattern!” while reading this one. But more importantly, you’ll learn how to build thinking and relationship habits that will lead to happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Surround yourself with the people you love the most and live in accordance with. reciprocity
  2. Do work that matters to you.
  3. Find a partner who will stand by your side through sunshine and rain.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. Flourish by Martin Seligman

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The Book in One Sentence

Flourish establishes a new model for well-being, rooted in positive psychology, building on five key pillars to help you create a happy life through the power of simple exercises.

Why do we like it?

Martin Seligman is like the Mozart of psychology. He’s known as the father of positive psychology because, prior to his time, the study of the brain was based solely on the problems with the mind. Seligman changed that forever with his research and is one of the best sources for beating any dysfunctional thinking pattern. This book stands out because it teaches you to do exactly as the title suggests-Flourish! It’s got simple but powerful exercises that you can do immediately to improve your happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. A life of profound fulfillment is built on PERMA.
  2. Simple positivity exercises can have life-changing effects, like these two.
  3. IQ isn’t everything – success is based on character traits, not just intelligence.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness for Beginners

6. The Power Of No by James Altucher

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The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of No is an encompassing instruction manual for you to harness the power of this little word to get healthy, rid yourself of bad relationships, embrace abundance and ultimately say yes to yourself.

Why do we like it?

What is a book with a negative word like “no” doing on this list? Well, it’s not actually about saying no, although you’ll get a lot of tips on how to do that. The reason this book is so great is because it teaches you how to eliminate unnecessary things from your life so that you can say yes to yourself. The practical tips this one gives for ridding your life of that which pulls down your happiness will have you feeling freer and happier in no time! See what we did there? 😉

Key Takeaways

  1. Rate your regulars to say no to the wrong people.
  2. Stop doing things you don’t like, and everyone will be better off.
  3. Say no to scarcity to go beyond “glass half full.”

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

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The Book in One Sentence

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (… And It’s All Small Stuff) will keep you from letting the little, stressful things in life, like your email inbox, rushing to trains, and annoying co-workers drive you insane and help you find peace and calm in a stressful world.

Why do we like it?

This book was USA Today’s bestselling book for two years in a row and was on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 100 weeks. If you’ve ever rushed in traffic to get where you’re going faster only to end up right next to the same person you passed a couple of miles back, this one is going to be a game-changer for you. It opens your mind to the idea of letting go of the unimportant things that society has trained you to think are vital. Unfortunately, the author is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on in this life-changing book that everyone should have on their shelf!

Key Takeaways

  1. Remember that your life isn’t an emergency.
  2. Give others a break, especially when they don’t deserve it.
  3. Don’t procrastinate on relaxing.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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8. Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin

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The Book in One Sentence

Happier At Home is an instruction manual to transform your home into a castle of happiness by figuring out what needs to be changed, what needs to stay the same, and embracing the gift of family.

Why do we like it?

Gretchen Rubin is a prolific master of happiness advice. This one came as a result of her feeling homesick one day while standing in her own kitchen. Knowing it was time to make some changes, she worked hard for the next 9 months to dedicate herself to improving her home and family, and especially everybody’s happiness. She investigates the four themes that make for a happy home: time, possessions, parenthood, and marriage & family. Reading this book will give you just the recipe you need to feel happiness every time you are at home!

Key Takeaways

  1. Get rid of clutter.
  2. Underreact to problems.
  3. Meet your neighbors.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie

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The Book in One Sentence

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living is a self-help classic which addresses one of the leading causes of physical illness, worry, by showing you simple and actionable techniques to eliminate it from your life.

Why do we like it?

We’ve already mentioned a few books on here that identify the roadblocks to happiness and how to eliminate them for a better life, and this one is a classic that does the same. Nobody likes worrying, and it’s a killer of joy, but it’s got a few different causes. This book, which has sold six million copies, will help you deal with all kinds of negative emotions like confusion, stress, grief, and criticism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use a 3-step approach to deal with confusion and you’ll eliminate the worry caused by it.
  2. Put a stop-loss on stress and grief.
  3. Take criticism as compliments.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness for Advanced Learners

10. Happiness by Richard Layard

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The Book in One Sentence

Happiness will teach you how our desire for it developed, what its benefits are, why money actually hurts our happiness and where it really comes from, and how Western countries could easily increase their happiness with a few changes.

Why do we like it?

How could we leave out the book with the title Happiness? Like many others, the author of this one has been doing research on the topic, but in this case he’s been doing it for almost 50 years! The really exciting thing about this book is that it takes a more holistic approach to this emotion that we all naturally seek. You’ll learn the history of happiness in mankind, what money has to do with it, and why higher taxes actually might be a good thing! It’s got some really interesting facts about happiness that’ll have you going “whaaaat?”

Key Takeaways

  1. Our capability to feel happiness in the first place has evolved, we weren’t always able to feel happy.
  2. More money actually makes you less happy, unless you live in poverty.
  3. One of the simplest ways for Western countries to increase happiness would be to raise taxes.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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11. Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson

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The Book in One Sentence

Everything Is F*cked explains what’s wrong with our approach towards happiness and gives philosophical suggestions that help us make our lives worth living.

Why do we like it?

This is a book that will really get your attention. You might say it’s a “clickbait” title, but you can’t actually count it as clickbait if it delivers on its promise, right? Well, Mark Manson definitely delivers on his promise of giving you a book about hope. Like many others on this list, it identifies the problems that get in the way of our happiness but with a slightly different angle. This one comes from the perspective of why our trying to avoid pain and discomfort actually makes us unhappy. It’ll show you why it’s okay that everything is not awesome all the time and how having this attitude helps you become happier.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pure logic won’t help you make the best decisions, a balanced brain will.
  2. Hope won’t solve your problems, it takes acceptance and principles to do that.
  3. The solution to mental illnesses is not chasing happiness, it is to attain true freedom from our addictions and dependencies.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy by Dr. Raj Raghunathan

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The Book in One Sentence

If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy walks you through the seven deadly sins of unhappiness, which will show you how small the correlation between success and happiness truly is and help you avoid chasing the wrong things in your short time here on earth.

Why do we like it?

You gotta love a book where the title makes you stop and think, right? Similar to our last suggestion, this one will have you turning your head to reconsider your life. And for good reason, because doing so can make you happier! This book is just a reformatting of the most popular course on the online learning platform Coursera in 2015. The author, Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan, began a quest to find out why so many of his most intelligent friends were so unhappy. The result was the course and this book!

Key Takeaways

  1. The first step on the path to happiness is not devaluing it.
  2. Don’t be desperate in your quest for love and strong relationships.
  3. Happiness is knowing what you want, yet being okay with not getting it for a while.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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13. A Guide To The Good Life by William B. Irvine

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The Book in One Sentence

A Guide To The Good Life is a roadmap for Stoicism, showing you how you can cultivate this ancient philosophy in your own life, why it’s useful and what Stoics are really about.

Why do we like it?

We’re not the first humans to think about what it takes to be happy, and we certainly won’t be the last. This excellent book dives into what the ancient philosophy of Stoicism is and how it can help us have better lives. It’s such a powerful book because the author gives firsthand experience on how these principles are improving his life. We’ve been trying to live this way of life for years as well and found that it really does make us happier! We’re confident that it will do the same for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. The two primary values of Stoicism are virtue and tranquility.
  2. Learn to want what you already have.
  3. Immediately accept things that are outside of your control and focus on what you can do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Positive Thinking)

14. The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

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The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude.

Why do we like it?

This book was on the New York Times bestsellers list for 186 weeks, and for 48 of them, it was in the very top spot! There are over 5 million copies around the world in 40 different languages. Its teachings of using affirmation and visualization to develop a positive mental attitude are just as sound today as they were when it was published in 1952. And hey, if you don’t believe us that it’s worth a read, just remember that if it weren’t then nobody would be talking about it nearly 70 years after it was published!

Key Takeaways

  1. Start with confidence and watch your problems shrink.
  2. Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
  3. In order to live worry-free, first imagine a worry-free life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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15. Loving What Is by Byron Katie

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The Book in One Sentence

Loving What Is gives you four simple questions to turn negative thoughts around, change how you react to the events and people that stress you and thus end your own suffering to love reality as it is.

Why do we like it?

The background of this book and its author are a large part of what makes it so compelling and life-changing. Byron Katie had such a powerful paradigm shift one day that she was never the same again. At 43-years-old she’d been battling mental illness and anger issues for 10 years when she woke up and it all stopped. She realized that the hinge upon which her suffering swung was whether or not she believed her own thoughts. Once she gave up the destructive thinking patterns, all that was left was joy and gratitude to be alive. This book is inspiring evidence that we all can change, even in a single day.

Key Takeaways

  1. You can overcome stress by dissecting your thoughts with four simple questions.
  2. Give yourself more options to think differently by turning thoughts around.
  3. You can’t change reality by being frustrated about it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

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The Book in One Sentence

Hardwiring Happiness tells you what you can do to overcome your negativity bias of focusing on and exaggerating negative events by relishing, extending and prioritizing the good things in your life to become happier.

Why do we like it?

It seems really easy to obsess over the negative. If you pause to think about what’s going on in your mind right now, you can probably think of a thing or two that you’re having a bad attitude about. This book is a game-changer because it identifies why we think about bad experiences and feelings so much and how to change these patterns. He helps us understand this by showing how the brain is wired to be like Velcro for bad experiences but more like Teflon for the good ones. And more importantly, how we can change it to let our happy experiences stick and the negative ones slide like water off a duck’s back.

Key Takeaways

  1. The reason you react stronger to bad things is that you (might) have a “sad amygdala.”
  2. Start a “Good Year Box” to remind yourself of positive events all the time.
  3. Create an infinite stream of positivity from your memories, small details and being generous.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Psychology)

17. The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

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The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Equation reveals nine scientifically backed secrets to happiness to show you that by wanting nothing and doing anything, you can have everything.

Why do we like it?

The book feels really down to earth and incredibly practical. It’s got a focus on doing away with unimportant factors of life that we think are vital. Pasricha instead teaches us that we ought to have a love for the little things in life that have big potential to make us happy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are nine different tips that this one gives to help you become happier. Some you might have heard of before, but the uniqueness of the way it’s all given make this book stand out.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Germans invented retirement and the Japanese found a cure for it: ikigai.
  2. Take the Saturday Morning Test to fix the relationship with the most important person in your life: you.
  3. Ignore most advice, including the one from this summary, website and me.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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18. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

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The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Project will show you how to change your life, without actually changing your life, thanks to the findings of modern science, ancient history and popular culture about happiness, which the author tested for a year and now shares with you.

Why do we like it?

Do you know how cool Gretchen Rubin is? For one, she coined the super profound phrase “the days are long but the years are short.” But she’s also awesome enough that we featured TWO of her books on this list! This one has a pretty incredible origin story just like the previous one we mentioned. One day Rubin realized that she was working hard but not on what would really matter to her after all those short years of her life were gone. So she paused everything else and focused on doing happiness experiments for a year, and the results are in this amazing book!

Key Takeaways

  1. Clean up your house and your brain, because all clutter wears us down.
  2. Accept these two things to build better relationships.
  3. Money is like health.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking

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The Book in One Sentence

The Little Book Of Hygge is about the hard-to-describe, yet powerful Danish attitude towards life, which consistently ranks Denmark among the happiest countries in the world and how you can cultivate it for yourself.

Why do we like it?

How would you like to learn from someone with the title of CEO at a company by the name of The Happiness Research Institute? Well, you’re in luck, because that’s what Meik Wiking, author of this book, is! He’s also from Denmark, which averaged a #1 ranking in the world happiness report from 2013-2016. Hygge might sound strange, but this noun, adjective, and verb represents a way of life for the Danish. Or, rather, a way of happiness, I should say. Wiking takes you through all of the meanings behind this word and the Danish culture that made it literally the happiest place on earth!

Key Takeaways

  1. Hygge is a special approach to happiness and not just an idea, but a mood, a feeling, an activity even.
  2. Atmosphere is a big part of hygge, so you should make a conscious effort to create the right environment for it.
  3. You can live and experience hygge anywhere and anytime, it is unlimited.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Habits Of A Happy Brain by Loretta Graziano Breuning

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The Book in One Sentence

Habits Of A Happy Brain explains the four neurotransmitters in your brain that create happiness, why you can’t be happy all the time, and how you can rewire your brain by taking responsibility for your own hormones and thus, happiness.

Why do we like it?

Throughout happiness books and research, you inevitably come across a little bit of chemistry. It might sound confusing at first, but this book does an excellent job of explaining it in a way that we can understand, and, more importantly, use to become happier! The original title of the book was Meet Your Happy Chemicals, which describes well why it’s so helpful. When you combine that with the word “habits” in the updated title, though, you get the recipe for building a consistently happy life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unhappy chemicals are just as important as happy ones.
  2. Nothing will make you happy forever.
  3. To live means to choose constantly, so it’s important that you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Work)

21. The Happiness Of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

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The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Of Pursuit is a call to take control of your own life by going on a quest, which will fill your life with meaning, purpose, and a whole lot of adventure.

Why do we like it?

Chris Guillebeau’s books are always inspiring. They’re great for helping you feel pumped up to get out of what’s holding you back and start doing what really inspires you. This book is no different and is particularly special because he wrote it after visiting every country in the world. Can you imagine how much you’d learn on such a journey? Guillebeau made note of the people he met that were on a mission and wrote this book to help you find yours and become happier by doing so.

Key Takeaways

  1. When the world calls out to you, listen.
  2. Adjust your life to accommodate your quest.
  3. Your quest will give you purpose, because it is a reward in itself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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22. Ikigai by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles

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The Book in One Sentence

Ikigai explains how you can live a longer and happier life by having a purpose, eating healthy, and not retiring.

Why do we like it?

Having a purpose will make your life happier, and this book will help you find that purpose. It makes doing so easy by identifying how the Japanese people use the principles of ikigai to build happy lives for themselves. It’s particularly remarkable because these people are some of the happiest on earth in part because they don’t ever retire. To do that they build habits of health, relationships, and a meaningful career, and this book teaches you how to do all of that with a few simple questions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Having a purpose is a vital component of longevity and happiness.
  2. If you want to live a long life, follow the advice of some of the oldest people in the world.
  3. To stay healthy throughout your life, make sure that you are moving enough.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Mindfulness)

23. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

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The Book in One Sentence

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a self-help classic telling the story of fictional lawyer Julian Mantle, who sold his mansion and Ferrari to study the seven virtues of the Sages of Sivana in the Himalayan mountains.

Why do we like it?

As of 2013, this book had sold over three million copies. It’s one of those riches to rags and happiness stories that you see in the movies. The fictional lawyer’s story will inspire you to realize that you don’t need stuff. When he has a heart attack from all the stress he’s under, he realizes he didn’t need his Ferrari and sells it. In place of the pursuit of worldly possessions, he begins seeking wisdom. What he finds teaches us how to live happier lives by changing our focus to what really matters.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use The Heart of the Rose exercise to guard your mind against unwanted thoughts.
  2. Develop a simple 10-step morning routine with The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living.
  3. Selflessly serving others counterintuitively leaves you better off too.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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24. The Miracle Of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

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The Book in One Sentence

The Miracle of Mindfulness teaches the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness and how living in the present will make you happier.

Why do we like it?

Depression is living in the past and anxiety is living in the future. Peace, then, is living in the present. This great book is a helpful introduction to the world of mindfulness and the huge impact it will have on your happiness. The author is a world-famous Vietnamese monk and Zen Master. You’ll love this one because it’s like learning directly from the master of mindfulness himself.

Key Takeaways

  1. Learn how to breathe correctly to begin practicing mindfulness.
  2. Set aside one day each week to be mindful the entire day.
  3. Mindfulness is much more than mere resting, it requires the same attention as driving a car to reap the benefits.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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25. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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The Book in One Sentence

The Power of Now shows you that every minute you spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is a minute lost, because really all you have to live in is the present, the now, and gives you actionable strategies to start living every minute as it occurs.

Why do we like it?

The experience Eckhart Tolle had with changing his life is similar to that of Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is. One late night he was in the depths of depressive thoughts, wondering what made his life so difficult. Then he realized the answer was in his “I,” or in other words, the picture of himself that his brain had created. When he woke up the next day, he’d let go of that part of himself and was a new man. His advice on how focusing on the present makes you happier is contained in this book, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2000.

Key Takeaways

  1. Life is just a series of present moments.
  2. All pain is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change.
  3. You can free yourself from pain by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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26. Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

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The Book in One Sentence

Wherever You Go, There You Are explains what mindfulness is and why it’s not reserved for Zen practitioners and Buddhist monks, giving you simple ways to practice it in everyday life, both formally and informally, while helping you avoid the obstacles on your way to a more aware self.

Why do we like it?

Here’s another book that you can learn a lot from just reading the title. It really makes you think, doesn’t it? Author Jon Kabat-Zinn is another guru of mindfulness that studied under other experts like Thich Nhat Hanh. The incredible thing about this book is that it relates the power of mindfulness to science. But it’s also really great because it’s got a “mindfulness is for everybody, not just monks” attitude. The advice in this one is simple and powerful, and you can use it today to help you become happier immediately!

Key Takeaways

  1. Deliberately ignore your phone.
  2. If someone takes something from you, don’t let them take your mind too.
  3. Focus on your body and senses during automatic behaviors.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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27. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

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The Book in One Sentence

10% Happier gives skeptics an easy “in” to meditation, by taking a very non-fluffy approach to the science behind this mindfulness practice and showing you how and why letting go of your ego is important for living a stress-free life.

Why do we like it?

This is a real story of a westerner coming to see the powerful effect that mindfulness has on happiness. It’s not from a monk in an eastern nation, but instead a former ABC News correspondent. He snapped under the pressure of his job on live television and began looking into what was really important. He found mindfulness and the rest is history. Today he’s a lot happier and healthier, just like you will be after picking up this book!

Key Takeaways

  1. The problem with your ego is that it’s never satisfied.
  2. Be simple, not a simpleton – why letting go of your ego won’t make you a pushover.
  3. Meditation increases your mindfulness and compassion by giving you a fourth habitual response.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Spirituality)

28. The Art Of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama

Best Books On Happiness 28

The Book in One Sentence

The Art Of Happiness is the result of a psychiatrist interviewing the Dalai Lama on how he personally achieved inner peace, calmness, and happiness.

Why do we like it?

It’s not every day that you get to learn words of advice from an experienced world leader. Luckily for us, however, Howard Cutler interviewed the Dalai Lama and the result is this life-changing book. It teaches that happiness comes from training our minds and hearts to respond appropriately to the experiences we have. One of the best parts about this book is that it’s the kind of message that anyone can learn from, religious or not.

Key Takeaways

  1. You don’t have to be religious, to be spiritual.
  2. The only constant thing is change.
  3. Know your limits.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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29. Trying Not To Try by Edward Slingerland

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The Book in One Sentence

Trying Not To Try explores ancient, Chinese philosophy to break down the art of being spontaneous, which will help you unite your mind and body, reach a state of flow, and breeze through life like a leaf in a river.

Why do we like it?

Sometimes it feels like you’re hacking at the branches of a problem instead of getting at the root. When it comes to happiness, there are a lot of “hacks” out there that are only surface-level. This book takes a deeper approach to try to get to the root of what philosophy, or outlook on life, will make us happiest. It’s like this book found the first domino in the chain of events to a life of constant happiness and teaches us how to knock it down.

Key Takeaways

  1. The concept of “flow” has long existed in traditional Chinese philosophy, and is called “wu-wei”.
  2. Wu-wei is directly connected to “de” and together, the two lead you towards a good life.
  3. To attain wu-wei, you must be honest, especially with yourself and then relentlessly act on it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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30. Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson

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The Book in One Sentence

Buddha’s Brain explains how world-changing thought leaders like Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Gandhi and the Buddha altered their brains with the power of their minds and how you can use the latest findings of neuroscience to do the same and become a more positive, resilient, mindful and happy person.

Why do we like it?

This one feels like a good coming together of a lot of ideas in many of these books. It’s got the power of thinking, mindfulness techniques, spirituality, and even neuroscience, too. It’s got multiple tips on becoming more mindful for those who are skeptical or who just don’t like meditating. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed after this one because it gives you permission to take a load off and not worry so much. Then with all of that freed up space you can finally have room for peace and happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Stop throwing second darts by not dwelling on your pain.
  2. Practice composure to not live in a state of constant desire.
  3. Don’t identify with so many things to reduce your suffering.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Minimalism)

31. The More Of Less by Joshua Becker

Best Books On Happiness 31

The Book in One Sentence

The More Of Less teaches you how to declutter your time, mental capacities, and spaces to give more attention to the people and experiences that matter most.

Why do we like it?

You own too much stuff and that makes you unhappy. Get rid of your stuff and you’ll become happier. The premise of this book is really just that simple. But more than that it explains how to get out of the consumerism habits and instead get good at getting rid of all that junk you don’t need. Like that Ferrari! 😉

Key Takeaways

  1. Minimalism is about getting rid of the things that get in the way of what’s important.
  2. Advertisements have a powerful effect on our spending habits.
  3. We can reject endless consumerism by donating our unwanted stuff, which will make us happy.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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32. Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Best Books On Happiness 32

The Book in One Sentence

Minimalism is an instructive introduction to the philosophy of less and how it helped two guys who had achieved the American dream let go of their possessions and the depressions that came with them.

Why do we like it?

Just look at the cover of that book for a moment. Doesn’t it just teach by example the best of any book cover you’ve ever seen? These two guys might look like they’ve got the minimalist thing figured out but it wasn’t always that way. They started off with nice jobs, cars, and houses. But, like anyone who has those things knows, none of it made them happy. so they changed their lifestyle, got rid of most of their stuff that was holding them back from really living, and became happier. And this book is the result! It doesn’t just tell their journey but shows you how to do what they did for a better life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Debt goes first. Get rid of your financial crutches to finally feel free.
  2. Use the TARA method to become more accepting of other people in your life.
  3. You are not your job. Don’t let your work define you.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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33. The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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The Book in One Sentence

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up takes you through the process of simplifying, organizing and storing your belongings step by step, to make your home a place of peace and clarity.

Why do we like it?

How many books can say that they got sort of turned into a Netflix show? If that doesn’t speak for how truly life-changing this book is, we’re not sure what does. And as if that wasn’t enough to convince you, it’s already sold six million copies since it was published in 2014! The power of this book to make you happy is in the simple mantra that Konmari uses to determine whether or not you should get rid of something: “does this spark joy?”

Key Takeaways

  1. Move from easy to hard items when considering what to keep.
  2. YODO – you only declutter once (if you do it right).
  3. Ask yourself a few simple questions for each item.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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We’ve summarized over 700 books to date, many of them about happiness. In our opinion, these are the best happiness books to start learning more about it in 2020. Let go of material possessions, focus on the people around you, learn the science of happiness, and practice the tips these books give and you’ll be well on your way to a happier life in no time!

What are you waiting for? Start reading our best happiness books today!