Take the quick road to info on modern happiness research
what the scientists have found out about how to be happy
Happiness Research: Books on Happiness
Are you researching happiness? Whether
you're doing so out of personal interest or because you are studying, you'll
probably want to know what to read.
First of all, don't forget to read
the books written by people who are actually living happiness in their everyday
life. Visit the page Philosophy: Happiness if you haven't already. There, you'll
find web-links and book recommendations regarding teachers like Eckhart Tolle,
Gangaji and Byron Katie.
Secondly, a large number of books that are
specifically focussed on happiness have been published. As have a lot of books
that don't overtly have that specific focus but actually still end up being
about happiness. So, if you're interested in happiness and happiness research
the question becomes: What to read?
What follows are a couple of handfuls
of books on happiness, including some that are actually based on happiness
research. I have put them into categories based on my own personal opinion about
Happiness Research 1:
'Happy for No Reason' - 7 Steps to Being Happy from the
The Very Best Books on Happiness
by Marci Shimoff (with Carol Kline):
one of the best books on the subject. It's based on happiness
research, it's well written and easy to read, and it's very
well structured with chapters on responsibility, mind, heart,
body, soul, purpose, relationships and several practical tools
and references. Highly recommended.
'What Happy People
Know - How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life
for the Better'
by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth:
very good book that's well written, easy to read, and based on
happiness research. The structure is perhaps less clear than
in Marci Shimoffs book (se above), but that's okay, since it
works anyway. Recommended.
'Feel Happy Now!'
Perhaps a bit more lightweight than the two
previously mentioned books, but it has the same excellent
qualities. The structure takes you from 'feeling good' to
'feeling better' to 'feeling happy'. Recommended.
'Happiness Is Free - and it's Easier than You Think!'
Lester Levenson and Hale Dwoskin:
On the surface this book
appears to be mostly a primer in using the Sedona Method, but
in fact the book contains deep truths and very sound advice.
It's a quirky mixture of short intense information, quite
'talkative' bits with much dialogue and 7 blank pages for you
to fill out at the end of each chapter. The quirkiness doesn't
work for me, but the information does. Recommended.
Happiness Research 2:
'You Can Be Happy No Mater What - Five Principles for Keeping Life
Some Fine Books on Happiness
(15th Anniversary Edition, 2006)
This one is a re-worked edition of a book from 1972.
It's simple, pretty short, reasonably easy to read, and perhaps a
good place to start for some people. The five principles are the
principles of: thought, moods, separate realities, feelings and the
'Happiness - A Guide to Developing Life's
Most Important Skill'
by Matthieu Ricard:
The author is a
Buddhist monk and this background shows in his writing. Not that it
matters. The book contains lots of truth, but it's not as easy to
read as some of the other books I've mentioned. When writing some
people are just more long winded (and perhaps also more precise)
than others. Mr. Ricard is one of those authors.
Diet - 10 Steps to a Happier Life'
by Martha Beck:
that strikes a fine balance between an easy read, a joyful, funny
way of writing and reasonably sound advice based on a reasonably
high level of insight into life. As the title indicates, the book
takes you through 10 steps meant to increase the amount of joy and
happiness in your life, covering the elements of: 'nothing', truth,
desire, creativity, risk, threats, play, laughter, connection and
Happiness Research 3:
'How We Choose to Be Happy - the 9 Choices of Extremely
Some Acceptable Books on
by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks:
The information in this book was gathered from making in-depth
narrative interviews with people whom the authors deemed 'extremely
happy over time'. That's a somewhat different scientific approach to
happiness research from what we most often see. The information
gathered (the nine choices or principles) is sound, as such, but I
can't help feeling that the authors don't REALLY understand some of
the things they are talking about. Perhaps that's why the have
littered the book with many, many quotes and snippets of case
stories. You are then (mostly) meant to infer that which the authors
wish to tell you. Cudos for some nice happiness research, but for
me, the way it's presented doesn't quite cut it. Oh, and by the way,
the nine choices or principles presented are: intention,
accountability, identification, centrality, recasting, options,
appreciation, giving and truthfulness.
in a Nutshell'
by Andrew Matthews:
A small book
with each of it's 80 small pages containing a few carefully chosen
sentences and the cute drawings of the author. It contains
reasonable amounts of high-level info, but it's certainly not very
well structured. Entertaining, though.
Little Book of Happiness - Your Guide to a Better Life'
by Patrick Whiteside:
Well, it calls itself a 'little book' and
so it is. It's as wide as the length of a pinkie and just a bit
higher. It actually reads like a book (continued prose from page to
page) but it has an average of 4 short sentences per page and 160
pages in all. Most of the time the prose is powerful and to the
point, which makes it a joy to read. The information (or: advice)
given is simple, basic and pretty much true. It's all about relaxing
and being present here and now. You get some pointers, but don't
expect much in the way of practical how-to-do-it.
Happiness Research 4:
'How to Be HAPPY, dammit - a Cynic's Guide to Spiritual
Some Other Books on Happiness
by Karen Salmansohn:
quirkiness! This one probably takes the prize. On the plus side it's
something new and interesting. On the minus side it doesn't really
work. Some of the information is okay, some is off the mark, but all
of it is presented in a wildly designed format where pictures, fonts
and font sizes and colours vary wildly from page to page.
'Your Life - only a Gazillion Times Better - a
Practical Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams'
by Cathy Breslin and Judy May Murphy:
A very basic book that's
firmly rooted in what one might call a low level of insight into
life. Some people may find it useful, though, since it's both a bit
playful and also highly focussed on everyday life. Personally, I
found it mostly irrelevant.
'The 100 Simple
Secrets of Happy People - What Scientists Have Learned and How You
Can Use It'
by David Niven:
Warning: This book
contains lots of crap as well as some truth. Overall, I cannot
recommend it. I guess the content is a result of trying to tie
extremely low level information (which might apply to some extremely
non-aware people - or not) in with some information on higher levels
(which might apply to most people). The end result is self
contradictory, confusing and not worth spending time and money on.
Please, Remember Not to Forget
That concludes the list of books on happiness that I wanted to tell
In the end I would ask you to please remember
this:Happiness isn't really a goal you can strive
and fight to achieve - it's a part of you, a state of being that you
enter when you relax all your defensive mechanisms, accept yourself
and life without conditions and do whatever flows naturally from
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