Everyone looks for that elusive state of happiness that seems to come and go.
What makes this sense of wellbeing so intangible and difficult to capture and hold onto?
The truth is, happiness is more than a fleeting good mood. It is complicated and can't be achieved by one quick tip or secret that's universal for everyone.
There are many factors that impact your happiness, from your environment, experiences, relationships, health, and so on.
To learn how to impact your own happiness, you need to do some introspection and look at your life from a broader perspective.
One of the best ways to do this is by learning from experts and thought leaders on what it takes to create and sustain a happy life.
I've compiled a list of some of my favorite books on the topic.
25 Of The Best Books On Happiness For A Better You
1. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Many people believe that hard leads to success and success leads to happiness. As soon as you find the right job or make more money, you will be happy.
However, research shows that happiness comes before success instead of the other way around. Your brain is more motivated, engaged, and resilient when you have an overall sense of positivity.
Not only has this been confirmed research, but also it's clear when looking at the bottom lines of companies around the world.
In this book, Shawn Achor, a Harvard University professor, uses his research along with the findings from other large studies to explain how you can reprogram your brain to be more positive and gain that competitive edge in the workplace.
You will learn seven practical and actionable principles from Achor that have been extensively tested to be effective in improving one's performance.
This is the right book for you if you are trying to get ahead in your job or trying to gain a positive mindset to achieve more in your life.
2. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, is known for his constant smile and ability to make the people around him feel happy and at ease.
Although he has experienced great losses, the Dalai Lama is an unconditionally happy person.
He believes that happiness is the purpose of life, and in his book, he uses the help of a psychiatrist to tell you how to achieve this. This book has become the foundation of the field of positive psychology that exists today.
This book shows you how to overcome anxiety, anger, and insecurities through examples from stories and conversations.
It also addresses many facets of everyday life, such as relationships, grievances, and the pursuit of success to teach you how to get through obstacles in life while still maintaining inner peace.
3. Happiness by Matthieu Ricard
Matthieu Ricard argues that everyone should put as much energy into achieving happiness as they do achieving other goals in life such as wealth, success, and physical fitness.
Touching on a wide variety of sources, such as poetry, Buddhism, science, fiction, personal experience, and Western philosophy, Ricard urges you to look ahead in your life and reconsider your realities.
You will learn exercises and techniques in every chapter of this guide to happiness.
You will also learn that a deep state of well-being requires a sense of compassion, and people who are truly happy are able to make an impact on the world because of their aspirations to end hatred and bring happiness to a global level.
4. Flourish by Martin Seligman
Psychologist Martin Seligman presents his idea of what true well-being is. Instead of focusing on relieving human suffering, Seligman believes that happiness is about raising the standards for the human condition.
Dr. Seligman focuses on optimism and motivation to show you how to get the most out of life.
This book is thought-provoking and tells inspiring stories of positive psychology. It includes interactive exercises that will help you explore your attitude and increase your overall sense of well-being.
5. Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
This book addresses the fact that our brains have evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences, while learning very slowly from good ones. This is why it is easy to focus more on negative feelings than positive ones.
However, Hanson argues that you can change this. You can learn to appreciate the opportunities that are provided to you each day to cultivate strength and override your brain's pessimism.
Hanson provides you with an easy method in this book that uses your everyday experiences to create new neural structures that are full of peace and happiness.
After reading this book, you will know how to build the mental strength that you need to make happiness and a sense of resilience your new normal.
6. Getting Back to Happy by Marc and Angel Chernoff
This book details the strategies of Angel and Marc Chernoff who have become go-to gurus for personal development with their top-ranked blog.
They share how to alter your thought patterns and your routines to bounce back after things in life get difficult.
Readers have found that this book serves as a good reminder that your small daily habits are truly the things that add up and contribute to individual happiness.
Through the use of anecdotes and advice, Marc and Angel show you how to harness the power of your daily activities to overcome the curveballs that life throws at you.
7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
This book covers Gretchen Rubin's year-long journey to discover what leads to true happiness.
Rubin explains simple ideas for how to incorporate parts of her journey into your own life.
This book is relatable and the transformation that occurs from the beginning to the end is amazing.
The experience shared by Rubin has helped readers realize what happiness means to them and how they can discover it themselves.
8. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
This unique happiness book is a comprehensive guide to understanding the various elements of happiness based on years of scientific research.
It provides you with a workbook to teach you happiness exercises, strategies, and methods of thinking. After reading this book, you will be able to have a better understanding of your intrinsic potential for living a happy life.
If you have been looking for happiness for a long time and have not been successful, this book offers solutions that you can actually do rather than trying to just change the way that you think.
9. The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner
This book takes a look at the happiest places around the world to find out what they all have in common and how you can apply those commonalities to your own life.
Buettner gives you the tools you need to live a fulfilling life at your maximum potential.
Buettner shows you the importance of pleasure, purpose, and pride in your journey to find happiness. He also offers a “Blue Zones” test to help you identify the areas in your life where you could benefit from more purpose and satisfaction.
After reading this book, you will know specific strategies to use to create a balanced and happy life.
10. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
This book incorporates research in psychology, behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy to show you what scientists have discovered regarding how we are able to imagine the future and the ability we have to predict how happy we will be when we get there.
Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert discusses how the human imagination is largely flawed, and we often misconceive the future and overestimate our satisfaction.
Gilbert makes a strong argument in this book that people seem to know very little about the hearts and minds of the people that they are about to become.
This light-hearted and fun book is packed with insights that will make you second guess the intelligence of the human mind.
11. The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch
Rauch makes a great argument that life is constantly changing, and therefore your level of satisfaction is changing as well.
Rauch uses contemporary research to show how people often have a dip in happiness throughout their twenties and thirties and then have a rise in their satisfaction with life in their fifties.
This natural dip in happiness is due to our tendency to focus on competition in our younger years before finding more compassion and gratitude later in life.
Rauch draws from his own personal experience with this slump as well as the stories of many others to show how midlife blues are able to reboot your values and change your sense of gratitude.
This book gives you insights on how to get through this happiness slump by finding and following a positive path.
12. Happiness by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book teaches the importance of mindfulness and living in the present moment to cultivate peace.
Hanh uses Buddhist teachings to offer a quintessential resource of mindfulness practices to use in your daily life to create a life of solidity and freedom from fear and suffering.
After reading this book, you will know how to live with a full awareness and joy on a daily basis.
This book will also teach you how to practice mindfulness with intelligence and skill.
13. Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
In this true story, Kelly talks about why people resist being happy by sabotaging themselves and putting their dreams aside to make other people happy.
Not only will you learn why people do this, but you will also learn how to address this problem in your own life.
This might be the right book for you if you feel like you are overwhelmed and tend to procrastinate, or if you feel like you are living a life that is not true to yourself.
Kelly helps you understand why you, along with everyone else, have these negative emotions and behaviors, and what you can do to overcome them.
He teaches you how to break through laziness and inner resistance to do the things you know are healthy to live with a sense of passion and purpose.
14. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
This book focuses on the techniques of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which is a new type of psychotherapy based on recent research in behavioral psychology.
If you are able to identify your values and practice mindfulness, ACT will help you find true satisfaction in life.
Harris shows you how to reduce your stress and handle your negative feelings more effectively.
You learn how to overcome self-doubt to help create a more meaningful life.
Readers have found this book simple and to-the-point with easily digestible explanations of this new type of therapy.
15. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
The Happiness Hypothesis looks into the question of where happiness comes from.
Haidt argues that long-term happiness comes from within you and can't be acquired by making the world conform to your desires.
Instead, you must grow an accepting attitude toward the unpredictable events and people around you.
Haidt offers a deeper understanding of how common sayings such as “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” or “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,” can enhance and improve your life.
Readers appreciate that this book incorporates humanities with psychological science to create a scholarly read that is also accessible to a wide audience.
The writing is straightforward and easy to follow, making this an impactful book for anyone.
16. 21 Days to Happiness by Ingrid Kelada
Are you constantly feeling stressed or you can't seem to find a healthy work-life balance?
Using both science and real-world advice, Kelada helps you find happiness with more productive daily habits.
Rather than hoping for happiness, Kelada teaches you that happiness is something you can do and something you choose each day.
17. Happiness Is a Choice You Make by John Leland
This guide to well-being focuses on the process of growing older through the stories of six people who are aged 85 and older.
Despite difficult circumstances, each person believes he or she lived a happy life and are now finding the most fulfillment and wisdom in their elder years.
This collection of lessons emphasizes the great influence that you have over the quality of your own life.
Using humility and wit, Leland has written an enlightening and imperative reflection on how you can live your best life in ways that have been informed by those who have already mastered this art.
18. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
This inspiring guide tells the story of Guillebeau's journeys to every country before the age of thirty-five.
During this time, he found that many people are on a quest in life of some sort and no matter how diverse the pursuit, he found that those who have a long-term goal to work towards are the happiest.
The more Chris interacted with people who were working toward a goal, the more he saw a direct link between going after a goal and overall happiness and enrichment.
He used the best advice that he learned to write this book to show people the lives and motivations of others that have led to happiness.
This book will challenge you to take control of your life and inspire you to live out your aspirations.
19. Happier Now by Nataly Kogan
Nataly Kogan, a recognized expert on happiness, uses this book to teach readers that happiness is not something extra to have in your life but rather a critical part of living a fulfilling and healthy life.
Kogan shows you how you can learn to be happy now and build upon this practice to ensure a happy future.
Kogan argues that no matter what your circumstances are, life will never go according to plan. You will experience true happiness when you stop trying to find the silver lining in every negative thing that happens and instead embrace the full range of your emotions with strength and mercy.
The author teaches the five core practices for building happiness, including acceptance, gratitude, intentional kindness, knowing your reason, and self-care, as well as the scientific research that backs up each of these.
Kogan helps you to stop waiting for something to make you happy to embrace the reasons you can be happy now.
20. Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
If you have tried meditating in the past and found that you didn't get much out of it or perhaps thought you weren't good at it, this might be the right book for you.
Salzberg explains how the brain physically changes when you participate in mindful meditation and teaches you unique techniques in order to get the benefits from it.
She offers an easy-to-follow four-week program with each week addressing a different kind of meditation.
Readers have found this book is effective in lowering overall anxiety and increasing gratitude in life.
21. Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman
Martin Seligman argues that happiness is not the result of luck. Instead, true happiness derives from focusing on your potential and strengths instead of your weaknesses.
Once you know your strengths, you can use them to improve every aspect of your life.
This book offers practical exercises, short tests, and the benefits of a dynamic website program to teach you how to identify your worthiness and use it in ways that you have never thought about.
Readers have found this to be a powerful guide for action to create the conditions for happiness.
22. Before Happiness by Shawn Achor
Shawn Achor shares why happiness must come before success. However, before you can achieve either of those things, you first have to be able to see that positive change is possible.
Once you see the world in a more positive light, you can garner your motivation, intelligence, and emotions to achieve your goals.
This book offers actionable steps to attain happiness that help you create a renewable source of happiness, engagement, and motivation to reach your potential in all of your endeavors.
23. The Happiness Animal by Will Jelbert
After debunking myths about what makes people happy, Jelbert offers practical exercises to increase your happiness — such as offering a stranger a pen, being completely honest, and writing a statement of your purpose in life.
The author argues that honesty is the first happiness muscle, and you must be honest in order to be happy. This is the first of several lessons that Jelbert shares in this book to improve your quality of life.
24. The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Lee
For years, author Jennifer Lee believed that she could be happier than she was.
However, she also felt guilty for wanting something that she felt was shallow. She struggled with the question of whether or not God wants us to be happy.
Lee went on a journey to find out whether happiness matters to God and how people can go after this idealistic state in a way that pleases Him.
Lee teaches you what she discovered, including how to learn and maximize your happiness style and overcome possible obstacles that are holding you back from true happiness.
You will learn how to live in an optimal state of well-being by focusing on this quest for just ten minutes each day. This book might be right for you if you are looking for happiness through your faith.
25. Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat
Mo Gawdat, the Chief Business Officer at Google’s [X], uses logic and problem-solving skills to understand how the human brain processes joy and sadness to “solve” happiness.
In his past, Gawdat dealt with his own unhappiness by applying research and logic. This allowed him to uncover the equation for permanent happiness.
Gawdat was able to apply his own equation to his life following the death of his son and found that his equation for happiness is truly successful.
By questioning some fundamental aspects of human existence, Gawdat offers a step-by-step process to help you achieve lifelong happiness. You will learn to face obstacles and still be happy with your current situation and optimistic about your future.
Each of these books offers powerful lessons on happiness that can benefit you both in the short and long-term.
Take your happiness into your own hands by researching and reading various approaches to creating a happier life.
But remember, your quest for happiness doesn't stop at the end of a book. You must apply the lessons you are learning and take action on your happiness plan!