What is happiness? What is joy?
We probably have asked this question in our lives at one point or another.
But how can a person know if they are truly happy? Do they have to feel good all the time? Is it the feeling of being satisfied and fulfilled with their life no matter the situation?
If that’s the case, then what about the people who are continuously striving to become even better? Are they not happy then?
To shed some light on one of life’s most difficult questions, we asked experts to share the best books on happiness and joy.
Here are their top recommendations:
Family Lawyer | Empowerment Trainer | Author
Composed of a series of interviews of the Dalai Lama conducted by psychologist Howard C. Cutler, “The Art of Happiness” provides a simple, no-nonsense approach to achieve happiness in the context of daily life.
Sprinkled with the teachings of His Holiness and reflections by the co-author, the book seamlessly ties together the wisdom of Buddhism and Western traditions.
The Dalai Lama prescribes the practice of love, compassion and tolerance, and living moment to moment as a mechanism to feel happy regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in.
It is a must-read and a keeper in everyone’s personal-development library.
In “Follow Your Bliss, Not Your Blisters: How to Live Unconditionally Happy,” Nanci Sherman offers a delicious recipe for more joy in your life.
The author draws from her life experiences and her expertise in the hospitality industry to device a no-nonsense approach to being happy.
The book is a quick, easy read, without any time-consuming or complicated exercises. You will feel inspired and uplifted by the time you put it down–if you can. A must read if you’re serious about being happy!
Choose Happy is one of those rare books that you pick up and don’t want to put down because each page is fun, informative and inspiring.
It is a game changer. You will find yourself referring back to this book over and over for inspiration, wisdom and uplifting quotes so keep it out on your nightstand or someplace you can easily grab it.
Choose Happy is appropriate and relatable for people of all ages and walks of life. It is a whimsical book with a very powerful message: happiness is a choice.
The book helps people learn how to live a meaningful life every day. After reading just a page or two, you’ll be happy you did.
Emma Green, PhD (c), MSc, BSc
Lykke means happiness in Danish. Meik Wiking knows a lot about happiness. He is not only from Denmark himself (a country consistently ranked as being one of the happiest countries in the world) but is also CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
In the book, he boils down the six key aspects of happiness he has found from his research:
Wiking then explores how these elements of happiness are applied in countries all over the world. Through reading the book, I learned a lot about what happiness really means as well as the wide range of ways that it can be put into practice.
Joyful is wonderful for those of us who want to look at the little things in life to find joy.
Whether it is listening to your favorite song while you get dressed, having fresh flowers on your desk at work, or simply wearing your favorite hat, Joyful inspires us all to look deeply into what makes us happy (and do more of it!)
The point is, we live in a world where we think we do not deserve joy or happiness, but we do!
Lee focuses her book on how objects, spaces, colors, and vibrant things make us happy – so we sound to find and experience more of those in our lives.
This is perhaps the primary document of stoicism. This book, written by a Roman emperor, was never meant to be published.
It’s personal and honest. It comprises observations, aphorisms, and other content that will help readers live the good life.
It’s also a small book, so you can bring it when traveling or pull it out when you’re upset.
It will help you embark on the journey of stoicism, of taking struggles one day at a time, of cultivating a steady and positive soul.
Many of our problems stem from the way we project ourselves to the world. People are conditioned or wired to think about “me.” Either way, the motivation of this self-centered thinking doesn’t matter.
We can end our self-inflicted suffering by thinking about the essence of solutions and the well-being of others, by taking responsibility for our actions.
Humility is the key to sobering our worldviews and accepting our role in hurting ourselves.
Once you admit that controlling your mind and reactions in the face of adversity if the key to happiness, it’s always good to get a refresher of the ethos that bounds your newfound judgment.
The Daily Stoic contains 366 passages, all about stoicism, that you can read as you wake up or on the go.
It’s an incredibly convenient book, one that adds flavor to life and reminds you of all the good things around you.
Author | Medical News Reporter | Certified Health Coach
Chronically Positive is a nonfiction health memoir/anthology about living a positive life while chronically ill and is a raw, honest, and inspiring look at a life lived with illness or disability, as seen through an optimistic and grateful lens.
The overarching message is about the focus on what you do have, instead of what you’ve lost, and focusing on what you can do, instead of dwelling on what you cannot.
A book by Judge Judy might not be what springs to mind when you’re trying to find a book about happiness. But in this work, the queen of bluntness opens up about her own personal reflections on what it takes to be happy.
Specifically focusing on the needs of women in a male-dominated world, Judge Judy Sheindlin talks about how women can tackle struggles in order to achieve happiness in their personal and professional lives.
She discusses how a person’s actions should be dictated by an effort to obtain bliss and how independence is a huge part of this.
In this book, Dan Harris of Good Morning America fame addresses how his inner voice brought him to success but also led him to have a panic attack on TV.
Harris discusses how through meditation he was able to tame the voice in his head in order to be more calm and happier.
He talks about everything from neuroscience to spirituality, helping readers understand what to do in order to lead better lives.
Wilderness Liaison | Speaker | Podcast Host
Why are students at Harvard, of all schools, not happy? Shawn Achor explores this question and others in his book, The Happiness Advantage.
I have to say it is hands down one of my favorite books on happiness. Inside he tells stories and personal experiences that help illustrate the points he makes on happiness. He works through science as well as the philosophy, and he does it in a friendly, easy to read way.
The data is real, the suggestions are actionable, and the information is priceless. Start implementing any of his tips and your life will change in a positive way.
Tom Glaser, MS
With its unique combination of storytelling, interviews, memoir, and activities, Full Heart Living: Conversations with the Happiest People I Know is as fun and engaging as it is relatable and practical.
Pulling himself out of darker times, the author’s vulnerability touches the soul, and the lessons he
Beyond happiness, this book reveals how to live, with your arms outstretched and your heart wide open.
Each delicious chapter concludes with a summary of key points and optional activities that bring the concepts immediately to life.
As intimate as sitting down to coffee with your best friend and as instructional as attending your favorite instructor’s class, this book is a profound reflection on how to live fully with joy and meaning.
Writer | Podcaster
This book is a must-read for anyone with a chronic illness. The advice is universal and helpful even to the most able-bodied.
We all face challenges and this book is loaded with good advice for living (with or without a chronic ailment). I highly recommend the book for anyone.
A wake-up call to anyone who wants to live life on their own terms. The book is part memoir, part how-to guide, so your mileage may vary.
The author’s specific goals may not be yours. Nonetheless, guidance is universal enough to be helpful to others. Includes bullet summaries after each chapter that help guide your own personal life plan.
A friend recommended this book to me. The majority of society has some form of anxiety or another. With everything around you moving 100 miles per hour, it’s hard for the brain to slow down and take a minute to think about nothing.
The Miracle of Mindfulness helps you think in a way that puts your thoughts to rest. It guides you into meditation where you focus on breathing and control. It helped me with my severe anxiety. It didn’t get rid of it completely but I can at least control anxiety when it appears.
Related: How to Get Rid of Social Anxiety?
Public Relations Diploma Graduate | Former Freelance Writer & Social Media Enthusiast
Author Jen Sincero is funny and brutally honest. She tells the reader exactly why they get seem to get out of their head.
It’s all about taking the right actions to have a fantastic and balanced life. Touches on aspects of career, managing stress and the importance of being social.
The bold yellow book cover stands out on the bedside table or shelf. I highly encouraged my mother to add this book to her reading list as it provides great material for goal setting.
By the end of the book, I felt confident in my abilities to further my happiness.
In addition to being a great self-help book, it is also motivational and will help elevate one’s mood. Author Louise Hay gives detailed real-life examples that deal with difficult situations that result in positive outcomes.
No matter how challenging things can be, readers can make great strides toward change.
This book helped me out a great deal while I was actively looking for work. I joined a focus group and two of the leaders strongly recommended this book.
It promotes happiness and making necessary changes to feel better about yourself and your environment. You can change anything with your outlook.
Dr. Rebecca Ray provides sage wisdom for readers of every age. The colorful quotes and illustrations are delightful. A wonderful book to read more than once due to its insightful reminders.
The beautiful, pastel pink cover definitely caught my mother’s attention as she was looking through my bookshelf for her next read.
I told her she must read this book because it provides reassurance and brings me joy. It was a book that I could easily binge read multiple chapters because I felt that the information resonated with me.
I learned a lot about the importance of gratitude and envisioning my future.