Happiness Research: Books on Happiness

• Take the quick road to info on modern happiness research
• Read what the scientists have found out about how to be happy
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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 them. Enjoy!


Happiness Research 1:
The Very Best Books on Happiness

'Happy for No Reason' - 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out
by Marci Shimoff (with Carol Kline):
This is 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:
Also a 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!'

by Michael Neill:
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!'

by 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:
Some Fine Books on Happiness

'You Can Be Happy No Mater What - Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective' (15th Anniversary Edition, 2006)
by Richard Carlson:
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 present moment.

'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.

'The Joy Diet - 10 Steps to a Happier Life'

by Martha Beck:
A book 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 feasting.

Happiness Research 3:
Some Acceptable Books on Happiness

'How We Choose to Be Happy - the 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People'
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.

'Happiness 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.

'The 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:
Some Other Books on Happiness

'How to Be HAPPY, dammit - a Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness'
by Karen Salmansohn:
Talk about 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 you about.

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 that.

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