As The Happy VA, you know I love me some happiness books! Not only can they help us feel more content in life, but they can also help us succeed in our businesses. The more fulfilled you are personally, the better you can serve your clients and customers. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
But, I’m not the only one who feels this way! It’s backed up by studies and science and stuff. So, if you’re looking to fill up your reading list, improve your mood, and have more success, this post has some resources to help get you started.
BONUS: Each of these authors has a talk, either with TED Talks or Google, that you can check out online for free before checking out the book!
1. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
After watching Shawn’s TED Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work, I knew I needed to read this book. Shawn explains how his studies have shown happiness to be a key ingredient to real success in work and life. He also shares a boatload of practical tips (and explains the why behind them all). Here’s a quote demonstrating the powerful benefits of exercise on happiness levels:
After four months, all three groups experienced similar improvements in happiness. The very fact that exercise proved just as helpful as anti-depressants is remarkable, but the story doesn’t end here. The groups were then tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!”
“By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience—even the comfort in a single breath—you’ll help turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure.”
Rick Hanson also has a TED talk, which you should totally check out. This book helped me think more about slowing down and savoring little moments. Every morning now, at the suggestion of Dr. Hanson, I try to notice the nice feeling of splashing cool water on my face, to appreciate the taste of my coffee, or how pretty the sky looks bright and early.
It maybe sounds a little cheesy or feel a little silly at first, but it seems to make everyday experiences somewhat more lovely. Plus, this book has lots of fascinating information about neuroplasticity and brain science, so if those things intrigue you, you’ll LOVE this book too.
3. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
I enjoy the fun of failure. It’s fun to fail, I kept repeating. It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”
I’m pretty sure this is the very first book about happiness that I ever read. It’s basically a classic now and lots of fun. The book is Gretchen Rubin’s project, and she talks a lot about the happiness of projects, the joy you get from feeling like you’re growing and learning. If you haven’t read this book yet, add it to your list! It might inspire you to take on a Happiness Project of your own.
PS – Gretchen also has a TED Talk! She’s habits expert and she shares some of her secrets with us in this talk.
4. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris
When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.”
You must read this book if you’re anxious or struggle with panic! Dan, who is a news anchor, had a panic attack ON AIR! OMG! So, he shares his journey, how he started meditating, and how he benefits from it. He’s also kind of sassy and sarcastic, which I think is wonderful.
Dan Harris gave a long talk at Google, so check that out!
5. How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric
Do you watch those beautiful School of Life videos on YouTube? This is a book created by The School of Life and listening to it feels similar to watching the videos. It’s thoughtful and questions some of our everyday thoughts on what might make us feel fulfilled and happy with our work.
I finished feeling really positive and excited about trying new things. My favorite concept was this idea they have about being a ‘wide achiever’ rather than a ‘high achiever,’ which essentially means being a modern day renaissance person.
Yep, Roman’s also got a TED Talk. This one is on how to start an empathy revolution!
I hope you’ll read a couple of these books or watch one of their talks this weekend. Let me know your thoughts.
What are your favorite happiness books?
Have you noticed how being more content helps your work too? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.