5 Great Books on Happiness

Summer is usually a quieter time, that most of us spend recharging our batteries. It can also be a time for introspection and reading “for the soul”. That’s why I’m happy to recommend 5 great books on happiness, perfect for summer reading and full of ideas to keep us “charged” for the rest of the year.

1. Gretchen Rubin“The Happiness Project”

This is definitely the greatest book I’ve read this summer. It’s a funny and authentic tale of Gretchen Rubin’s year-long quest for happiness – a year in which she tested the most famous studies and theories on the subject. You’ll definitely identify with many of Rubin’s stories and examples and get the tools to start your own happiness project. This book will likely give you some great ideas on how to increase happiness in your own life.

Here is Gretchen’s Happiness Project story in her own words:

2. Martin Seligman‘s – “Flourish

This is the follow up to the famous “Authentic Happiness”. Seligman, the father of positive psychology, updates and refines his theory on human happiness, renaming it, more appropriately – human well-being or flourishing. It’s probably the best scientific account of what makes life worth living. I really appreciate Seligman’s scientific rigor – I think it makes his conclusions even more worthwhile – the instruments of positive psychology are proven, beyond doubt, to improve human well-being – and they have now been applied in schools, in the workplace and even in the army, with remarkable results!
I highly recommend this book to all who are looking for a scientifically validated perspective on maximizing human potential.

Here is a video of Seligman, detailing the book’s key concepts:

3. Jonathan Haidt – “The Happiness Hypothesis

This is perhaps one of the best books on happiness that you could find! Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, tests 10 great ancient ideas about happiness that he questions in the light of the latest scientific research. The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through diverse fields such as psychology, neuroscience, anthropology or philosophy – managing to build a captivating story along the way and to deliver some amazing insights. This is a book filled with practical lessons to help us in our never-ending quest for a happy life.

Here is an account of what made Haidt write the book and his take on some of its key ideas:

4. Daniel Gilbert – “Stumbling on Happiness

This book represents a solid foundation in understanding the journey we make in order to find happiness, and provides a very convincing explanation as to why we often fail to correctly anticipate what will truly make us happy. It answers questions such as: Why do we often fail to correctly anticipate what will make us happy? Why it is often more efficient to rely on others’ experiences than to trust our own brain? Why do our memories play tricks on us when we look back in time?

It’s a classic, worth reading by all “students of the human mind”.

Below is Gilbert’s great TED speech, exploring the latest research on the brain and it’s link with happiness:

5. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – “FLOW – The Psychology of Optimal Experience

A reference book from one for the founders of Positive Psychology. This is perhaps one of the greatest books about what truly makes us happy and, alongside Martin Seligman’s, Csikszentmihalyi’s work deserves a place in everyone’s library. Their ideas have the potential of making this world a better place by bringing scientific proof that “meaning” lies within and each person has the power to harness it.

Below you can watch Csikszentmihalyi great speech at TED:

2 Comments

  1. Traian Bossenmayer /

    thanks Alis!

    great list of books, looking forward to reading the one of Jonathan Haidt

    • alisanagnostakis /

      Hi, Traian! I’m very sure you’ll love Haidt – I can’t wait to share impressions after you read the book!

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