Best Books on Happiness Cover

The 33 Best Happiness Books

Each year, a group of experts gathers to assess the global state of happiness. The result, the World Happiness Report, is released on March 20, the International Day of Happiness.

This sounds like a positive thing, but, since 2005, overall happiness is decreasing while negative feelings like sadness and anger are on the rise. What’s worse is the trend of more young people experiencing mental illness, addictions, and their consequences. To an extent, this is understandable.

It’s tough to stay afloat mentally with everything going on in the world these days. No wonder we can crack at the slightest problem. But then we feel bad for not knowing how to handle it all and slip even deeper into unhappiness.

How do we stop this spiral? How can we actively combat our common enemy? What do we need to stop doing? And which habits will allow us to harness the power of happiness?

Dozens of books can help educate ourselves about happiness from a multitude of perspectives. We can take the view of science, of history, of philosophy, mindfulness, and spirituality.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve hand-summarized over 800 books. In the course of doing so, we’ve learned a thing or two about happiness, and we recorded which experts and books have the most potential to add more joy to your life.

If you want to be happier, consider the following 33 books, sorted by category. For each one, we’ve included our favorite quote, a one-sentence-summary, our three key takeaways, and a few points on why you might want to read it. Use the clickable table of contents below to jump to any book or category.

Here are the 33 best happiness books of all time – they’ll change your life forever!

Table of Contents


Best Happiness Books Overall

1. Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat

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Favorite Quote

“If you can afford the brain cycles to worry about the future, then by definition you have nothing to worry about right now. Right now, you’re okay.” — Mo Gawdat

The Book in One Sentence

Solve For Happy lays out a former Google engineers formula for happiness, which shows you that it’s our default state and how to overcome the obstacles we face in remaining in it.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to understand happiness is a choice. Mo Gawdat knows. He lost his 21-year-old son Ali. He taught himself to choose happiness instead of sadness regardless. 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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Favorite Quote

“The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.” — Dan Gilbert

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 should you read it?

This book examines how your brain tries to lie to you, specifically about what will happen in the future. Dan Gilbert’s years of research show 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 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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Favorite Quote

“I could care less about whether it’s half full or half empty — as long as I can fill it up.” — Shawn Achor

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Advantage turns the tables on happiness by proving it is a tool for success rather than of the result of it, sharing seven actionable principles you can use to increase both.

Why should you read it?

Shawn Achor’s research reveals 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. This book points to 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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Favorite Quote

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.” — Jonathan Haidt

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 literal formula for happiness.

Why should you read it?

This book dives into the neurological aspects that contribute to happiness with a twist. Instead of getting lost in medical terms, Haidt employs the memorable analogy of a rider on an elephant. The metaphor shows how we can harness our brains to make us happy. More importantly, you’ll learn how to build thinking and relationship habits that will lead to long-term 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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Favorite Quote

“I’m trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do.” — Martin Seligman

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 should you read it?

Martin Seligman is the father of positive psychology. Prior to his work, brain science was based solely on the problems with the mind. Seligman changed that with his research. He is one of the best sources for beating dysfunctional thinking patterns. This book stands out with simple but powerful exercises you can do immediately to improve your happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. A life of profound fulfillment is built on the acronym PERMA.
  2. Simple positivity exercises can have life-changing effects.
  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 about Happiness for Beginners

6. The Power Of No by James Altucher

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Favorite Quote

“When you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy.” — James Altucher

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

Ultimately, this book is not about saying no, although you’ll get a lot of tips on how to do that. The benefit of this book lies in learning to eliminate unnecessary things from your life so that you can say yes to yourself. It’s packed with practical tips for ridding your life of that which pulls you down, which will make you feel freer and happier.

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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Favorite Quote

“Success is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.” — Richard Carlson

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

This book spent 100 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. If you’ve ever rushed in traffic only to end up next to the same person you passed a couple of miles back, this book might change your life. It’ll open your mind to the idea of letting go of the unimportant things that society has trained us to think of as vital. The author left a great legacy that lives on in this good book.

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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Favorite Quote

“I am living my real life, this is it. Now is now and if I waited to be happier, waited to have fun, waited to do the things that I know I ought to do, I might never get the chance.” — Gretchen Rubin

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 should you read it?

This book is a result of the author feeling homesick while standing in her own kitchen. Knowing it was time to make some changes, she worked hard for the next nine months to improve her home and family life. She investigates four themes that make for a happy home: time, possessions, parenthood, and marriage and family. Reading this book will help you feel happy 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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Favorite Quote

“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember: life’s too short to be little.” — Dale Carnegie

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

This book is a classic in identifying roadblocks to happiness and how to eliminate them. Nobody likes worrying, it’s a killer of joy, but it has several different causes. Having sold six million copies, this book can 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 about Happiness for Advanced Learners

10. Happiness by Richard Layard

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Favorite Quote

“Competition for status is a zero sum game.” — Richard Layard

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 should you read it?

The author of this book has researched happiness for almost 50 years. He takes a holistic approach to this emotion we all seek. You’ll learn the history of happiness in mankind, what money has to do with it, and why higher taxes might, counterintuitively, be a good thing.

Key Takeaways

  1. Our capability to feel happiness is a result of evolution, 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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Favorite Quote

“Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness and depression. It is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction.” — Mark Manson

The Book in One Sentence

Everything Is F*cked explains what’s wrong with our approach towards happiness, providing philosophical suggestions that make our lives worth living.

Why should you read it?

Despite the clickbait title, Mark Manson delivers on his promise. This is “a book about hope.” Manson argues trying to avoid pain and discomfort makes us more unhappy than simply accepting and dealing with the negatives in our lives. He shows us it’s okay for not everything to be awesome all the time, and that having a more detached attitude will make us happy without depending so much on externals.

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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Favorite Quote

“Although happiness is a very important goal for most people, they also seem to devalue it as they go about their lives. That is, people seem to routinely sacrifice happiness for the sake of other goals.” — Dr. Raj Raghunathan

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 should you read it?

This book follows the most popular course on the online learning platform Coursera in 2015. The author, Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan, went on a quest to find out why so many of his intelligent friends were unhappy. He found out that we must not de-prioritize happiness, but that we also can’t be too desperate in chasing it. This book sums up his insights and findings.

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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Favorite Quote

“The easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have.” — William B. Irvine

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read 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 book dives into the ancient philosophy of Stoicism and how it can help us live better. The author gives many firsthand examples on how these principles are improving his life, and in practicing it for several years, both Luke and I have found the same.

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 Happiness Books (Positive Thinking)

14. The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

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Favorite Quote

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget yourself, think of others. Try this for a week. You will be surprised.” — Norman Vincent Peale

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Positive Thinking will teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by mastering your thoughts and changing your attitude.

Why should you read it?

This book was on the New York Times bestsellers list for 186 weeks. For 48 of them, it held the top spot. It was translated into 40 languages and has sold five million copies. Peale uses affirmation and visualization to develop a positive mental attitude, practices which are just as sound today as they were in 1952, the book’s original year of publication. An “old but gold” read.

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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Favorite Quote

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” — Byron Katie

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 out, and learn to love reality as it is.

Why should you read it?

Byron Katie had a powerful realization at 43 years old. She’d been battling mental illness and anger issues for 10 years. One morning, she woke up and asked: What if I didn’t believe my own, negative thoughts? With a few simple questions, like “Is this thought true?” and “Who would I be without this thought?” she completely turned her life around. After she gave up destructive thinking patterns, all that was left was joy and gratitude to be alive. A powerful case study and proof that we can all 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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Favorite Quote

“By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience — even the comfort in a single breath — you’ll turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure.” — Rick Hanson

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

It’s easy to obsess over the negative. If you assess what’s going on in your mind right now, you’ll quickly find several things that are “not working.” In identifying why we linger on bad events and feelings so much, Hanson helps us change these patterns. He suggests our brains are like velcro for bad experiences and like teflon for good ones. His tips will make your happy memories stick, with negative ones sliding away 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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Favorite Quote

“Motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation.” — Neil Pasricha

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 should you read it?

This book does away with unimportant factors of life that we think are vital. Pasricha teaches us to love the little things in life that have big potential to make us happy. In total, it includes nine different tips to help you become happier. Some you might have heard of before, but their unique delivery makes even those a good reminder.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Germans invented retirement, and the Japanese found a cure for it: ikigai.
  2. Take something called “the Saturday Morning Test” to fix the relationship with the most important person in your life: you.
  3. Ignore most advice, including that from this book.

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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Favorite Quote

“The days are long, but the years are short.” — Gretchen Rubin

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Project will show you how to change your life without uprooting it, thanks to the findings of modern science, ancient history, and popular culture, which the author tested for a year.

Why should you read it?

One day, Rubin realized she was working hard but not on what would ultimately matter to her at the end of her life. She hit pause and did happiness experiments for a year. The result is this amazing book full of practical advice.

Key Takeaways

  1. Clean up your house and your brain, because all clutter wears us down.
  2. Accept that you can only change yourself and that what you do every day matters most to build better relationships.
  3. Money is like health — it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be happy but not having to worry about it makes your life a lot easier.

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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Favorite Quote

“To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time, Winnie the Pooh, when asked how to spell a certain emotion: ‘You don’t spell it, you feel it.’” — Meik Wiking

The Book in One Sentence

The Little Book Of Hygge is about how you can cultivate the hard-to-describe, yet powerful Danish attitude towards life, which consistently helps the country rank among the happiest in the world.

Why should you read it?

Meik Wiking is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute. He’s also from Denmark, which ranked #1 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. Wiking takes us through all the meanings behind this word and explains how Danish culture has made it the happiest place on earth.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hygge is a special approach to happiness: 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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Favorite Quote

“You can increase your pleasure if you’re willing to do things that don’t feel good at first.” — Loretta Breuning

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.

Why should you read it?

Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin. These are the four chemicals that regulate our moods and greatly contribute (or detract from) our happiness. This book does explains them in a way we can understand them and, more importantly, use them to become happier.

Key Takeaways

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

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 Happiness Books (Work)

21. The Happiness Of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

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Favorite Quote

“It’s your life, so why not be intentional about it?” — Chris Guillebeau

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

Chris Guillebeau wrote this book 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 of their own. After his return, he 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 and of 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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Favorite Quote

“Essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Hector Garcia Puigcerver

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 in a traditional sense.

Why should you read it?

The book identifies how Japanese people use the principles of ikigai to build happy lives through purpose and health. What’s remarkable is that some of the oldest people in the world never retired. Instead, they built healthy habits, good relationships, and a meaningful career. This book explains how to start doing the same 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 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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Favorite Quote

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” — Robin S. Sharma

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 should you read it?

After fictional lawyer Julian Mantle has a stress-induced heart attack, he realizes he doesn’t need his Ferrari and sells it. Instead of pursuing worldly possessions, he begins seeking wisdom. What he eventually learns can teach us how to live happier lives by changing our focus to what really matters. As of 2013, this book had sold over three million copies.

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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Favorite Quote

“In mindfulness, one is not only restful and happy but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

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 should you read it?

Depression is living in the past. 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 can have on your happiness. The author is a world-famous Vietnamese monk and zen master. You’ll learn straight 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 more than mere resting; to reap its full benefits, it requires the same attention as driving a car.

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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Favorite Quote

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

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 we can only live in the present and act in every moment as it occurs.

Why should you read it?

One late night, Tolle had deeply depressing thoughts, wondering what made his life so difficult. In a lightbulb moment, he realized the answer was in his “I” — the picture of himself that his brain had created. When he woke up the next day, he felt reborn. He’d finally let go. His advice on how to better focus on the present is contained in this multi-million-copy bestseller.

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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Favorite Quote

“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity, which at bottom is not about trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else but simply to realize where you already are.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

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 should you read it?

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a legend in the mindfulness space. He studied under other experts, like Thich Nhat Hanh. As zen and intriguing as the title sounds, the book connects the power of mindfulness to science. The advice in it is simple and powerful and easy to implement 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

Best Books On Happiness 27

Favorite Quote

“There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change and no point being unhappy about things you can.” — Dan Harris

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 to living a stress-free life.

Why should you read it?

Former ABC News correspondent Dan Harris snapped under the pressure of his job. After having a panic attack on live television, he looked into what was really important. The Westerner thoroughly investigated mindfulness and then reported on useful ways even skeptics can embrace it to be happier.

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 – non-judgment.

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

Favorite Quote

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama

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 should you read it?

According to one of the world’s most celebrated leaders, the Dalai Lama, happiness comes from training our minds and hearts to respond appropriately to the experiences we have. This book is 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

Best Books On Happiness 29

Favorite Quote

“The conscious mind, ungrounded by the wisdom of the body, is remarkably incapable of taking care of business.” — Edward Slingerland

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 should you read 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” that only work at a surface level. This book takes a deeper approach to analyze which philosophy will make us the happiest. It’s not the end of the journey but a useful first domino in a long chain of events that’ll make us happy.

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 can 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

Best Books On Happiness 30

Favorite Quote

“Only we humans worry about the future, regret the past, and blame ourselves for the present.” — Rick Hanson

The Book in One Sentence

Buddha’s Brain explains how world-changing leaders like Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Gandhi, and the Buddha used the power of their minds to become more positive, resilient, mindful, and happy people and how you can do the same.

Why should you read it?

This book combines thinking tactics, mindfulness techniques, spirituality, and neuroscience. It includes something for everyone, whether you’re deep into mindfulness already or don’t like meditating. Most of all, this book will give you permission to catch your breath and not worry so much. It’ll free space in your life so you finally have some 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 Happiness Books (Minimalism)

31. The More Of Less by Joshua Becker

Best Books On Happiness 31

Favorite Quote

“Our excessive possessions are not making us happy. Even worse, they take us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.” — Joshua Becker

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

The premise of this book is simple: You own too much stuff. That stuff makes you unhappy. Get rid of it, and you’ll become happier. Going further, the book explains how to get out of our consumerist habits and why doing so will give us the space we crave to deal with the things that really matter to us.

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

Favorite Quote

“You needn’t settle for a mediocre life just because the people around you did.” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

The Book in One Sentence

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

Why should you read it?

Ryan and Josh worked hard for their nice jobs, cars, and houses. None of it made them happy. Instead, the debt burden crushed them. As a challenge, they changed their lifestyle, got rid of the stuff that held them back, and became happier. This book is the result. It’ll help you follow in their steps to live better.

Key Takeaways

  1. Debt goes first. Get rid of your financial crutches to finally feel free.
  2. Use the Tolerate-Accept-Respect-Appreciate (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

Best Books On Happiness 33

Favorite Quote

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” — Marie Kondo

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 should you read it?

Konmari’s mega-bestseller has sold over six million copies world-wide and led to her own TV show. The power of behind this global phenomenon lies in the simplicity of its mantra: “Does this spark joy?” According to Marie Kondo, this single question can greatly improve our lives and homes.

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, like “Does this spark joy?” for each item you consider throwing away.

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

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Conclusion

We’ve summarized over 800 books to date, many of them about happiness. In our opinion, these are the best happiness books to read this year.

Let go of material possessions, focus on the people around you, learn the science of happiness, and practice some of the tips from these books. In finding out which ones work for you and which ones don’t, you’ll be well on your way to a happier life.

Don’t wait. Happiness is an urgent matter. Start reading some of the best books on happiness today!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” — Dalai Lama XIV


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here’s an index of all book lists we’ve made so far:

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