We're all looking for more ways to find happiness, and reading is one way we can gain knowledge and understanding about how to improve our lives. This eclectic list offers a range of books, from the more cerebral and scientific to the light and fun, that will appeal to you on many different levels. Take what you can from the points in these works and apply the ones that speak to you.
We also want to know: What Makes You Happy? Share your thoughts with us.
Author: Tom Rath
Tom Rath co-wrote a book called How Full Is Your Bucket (buy direct), which sought to inform us about happiness through the visual of a bucket of emotions and feedback. The bucket could either be filled each time we see a friend (through their positive energy, praise, or feedback), or it could be diminished by their negativity. In turn, we could also fill our buckets by the way we interact with people as well.
While the visual is a good one for people to grasp, Rath's book Strengths Finder 2.0 offers a much more concrete assessment of happiness. It creates a personalized look at what motivates you in the working world. However, you cannot take the assessment without thinking about your personal life as well. Reading Strengths Finder is a good way to become more self-aware, which will help you relate to your friends better.
Strengths Finder will help you identify areas that you long for but haven't pursued, and in doing so will identify the areas where you've felt restless or unfulfilled. Since work is such an important part of our lives, this knowledge will help transform your work life from a job to a purpose, and in doing so is bound to make your personal lives and friendships that much better as well. You'll understand the types of people you best deal with and how you come across to others.
Author: Anna Quindlen
This book makes a nice gift item as well as a thought-provoking gem for you to look at the small but significant ways that your life is unique and important. Often appreciating the small things we gloss over as part of our normal routine is the first step in looking at your life in a more positive way.
Author: Gretchen Rubin
The About.com Guide to Contemporary Literature says that "Gretchen Rubin's experiment is eclectic and illuminating. As she makes clear from the start, each person's happiness project is inherently unique. However, she adheres to hers so methodically and documents it so meticulously, that there is much that we can all take away from her journey."
Rubin's book is arguably one of the things that turned society's focus to internal happiness.
Author: Daniel Gilbert
While happiness seems like an emotional thing that can't be measured with scientific accuracy, Stumbling on Happiness offers a different take. It uses facts about the human brain and common habits to determine our realistic capacity and approach toward happiness.
About.com's Psychology Guide shared a quote from author Daniel Gilbert on insight he learned about happiness. "If you want to know how much you will enjoy an experience, you are better off knowing how much someone else enjoyed it than knowing anything about the experience itself," says Gilbert. "Rather than closing our eyes and imagining the future, we should examine the experience of those who have been there."
Gilbert says that this is because we aren't very good judges of what we enjoy and what we don't, and that our experience can be influenced by other people. Certainly a different approach to happiness, which will appeal to the scientific-mined among us.
Author: Dan Buettner
Thrive is based on research from people who claim to be the happiest around the globe. So rather than a general look at human behavior, this book focuses on regions in which people are known to be content with their lives. They aren't searching for some missing element or longing for a change.
Dan Buettner interviewed residents of Denmark, Singapore, and the northeast region of Mexico, as well as a variety of people he felt could add insight to the data (like sociologists, writers, and even politicians). While this information is research-driven, the ending result is a read that is anything but stuffy.
Buettner's focus on how to make us thrive as a whole, rather than reach moments of happiness. It's about lifestyle changes that can easily be done though things like our diet, the way we exercise, and how we interact with people on a social level.