It’s 2020 and this is the year that you’re going to be happier, or so you vowed in your list of resolutions. But if you’ve started the year with the same sense of dissatisfaction as the last, sometimes, a few wise words is just the tonic for getting yourself back on track.
While none of these books are a quick-fix to all of life’s problems, they can suggest helpful hints, cognitive strategies and straight-talking advice for living more optimistically.
Best books on happiness
So whether you’re stuck in a rut or simply feeling the blues, here are a few reading suggestions that can help to shake up your mindset.
1. The Art Of Happiness: A Handbook For Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, Hodder Paperbacks. £6.50, Amazon
There’s something reassuring about reading a self-help book that’s been penned by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who is probably one of happiest men on the planet. In this classic book, the Tibetan monk explains that happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by external conditions, circumstances or events – meaning you can still be happy even in the face of hardships. Through anecdotes, conversations and 2,500 years of Buddhist thinking, he lays out his method for conquering day-to-day anger and anxiety.
2. Happiness By Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think by Paul Dolan, PhD. Penguin Books, £5, Amazon
You’ve climbed the career ladder and you’ve ticked all the big ‘life’ boxes – so why have you still got that niggling feeling that you could be happier? In this book, behaviour expert Paul Dolan argues that happiness isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation, and we need to reject habits that pull us toward what we think ought to make us happy, rather than what truly makes us feel alive. In doing so, we can work out a design for pleasure that is uniquely wired to our own personal desires.
3. 10% Happier by Dan Harris, Yellow Kite. £8.19, Amazon
After having a panic attack live on air, TV host Dan Harris turned to meditation to help get him back on his feet. As a deep sceptic of anything spiritual, he was astounded to discover that practising daily relaxation techniques actually works; not only does it relieve stress, it can also make you happier. In this book, he explains that being mindful doesn’t change the problems in your life, but being able to use the skills learned through mindfulness can alter how you react to life’s obstacles.
4. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life by Mark Manson, HarperCollins, £13.57, Amazon
Most self-help books will tell you that a positive state of mind is all you need to achieve happiness, but Mark Manson rips up the rule book in this radical read, suggesting that caring less is actually the key to true fulfilment. That involves filtering out the things of perceived value that actually don’t matter – like buying a new car or a designer wardrobe – and finding out what you really care about. According to Manson, working out what’s important and meaningful in your life means you’ll productively use your time and energy on the things that matter, and stop wasting it on the things that don’t.
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