23 Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment [2024 Update]

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Want to be happier? You might want to consider learning more about the science of happiness itself by checking out a few books on happiness.

In pursuit of a joy-filled life, many of us find ourselves searching for that elusive state of happiness.

But what if happiness isn't just an accident of fate, but rather a skill that can be cultivated and learned? That's the premise behind this meticulously curated list of the 23 best books on happiness—a collection of wisdom designed to guide you on your personal quest for contentment.

Whether you're someone looking to add more joy into your daily life or just want to understand better understand what it takes to be happier, this list will provide insights that resonate with your life's path.

From the practical strategies to the profound truths, these books offer a multifaceted examination of happiness from every angle.

Prepare to embark on a literary journey with some of the most influential thinkers and researchers in the field, including Sonja Lyubomirsky, Martin E.P. Seligman, the Dalai Lama, and more.

You’ll find books that challenge conventional wisdom, such as “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert, there are personal tales of transformation, like Dan Harris’s “10% Happier“. There's profound spiritual wisdom in “The Art of Happiness” and science-backed methods within the pages of Barbara Fredrickson’s “Positivity“.

If you're ready to explore new dimensions of happiness and enhance your understanding of what it truly means to live a fulfilled and happy life, then you're in the right place.

Without further ado, here are the 23 must-read books about happiness that could change your perspective on happiness forever.

Best Books on Finding Happiness

1. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky - Best books for finding happiness in life

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Takeaways:

  • Discover the science-backed strategies for increasing happiness, including practicing gratitude, cultivating optimism, and nurturing social connections.
  • Understand the impact of genetics, life circumstances, and intentional activities on overall happiness and well-being.
  • Learn how to effectively manage and overcome negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, through various techniques and interventions.
  • Embrace the concept of “savoring” positive experiences and moments, allowing them to deeply resonate and contribute to long-term happiness.
  • Implement sustainable habits and behaviors that promote lasting happiness, such as setting and pursuing meaningful goals, engaging in acts of kindness, and finding purpose and meaning in daily life.

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want uses a scientific approach to guide readers into a life of happiness. It discusses the various elements of happiness in a practical and empowering way that is easy for readers to follow.

This book addresses strategies for finding happiness, new methods of thinking, and quizzes for readers to take to help them realize their potential for happiness, and how to sustain it.

Lyubomirsky uses this book to give suggestions to help acquire and maintain happiness quickly and without spending a lot of money. While she does not push a particular faith on the reader, she does explain the roles of religion and spirituality in finding happiness.

This book also refers to mindfulness and living in the moment. The author urges the reader to overcome pain through gratitude and joy. The book inspires readers to take part in mindful meditation to promote happiness and decrease stress.

While many of the author's suggestions seem to be common sense, it is encouraging to remember that the author is involved in scientific happiness research, lending her more credibility.

Lyubomirsky ultimately leaves it up to the readers to choose their own specific activities and areas of life to work on. This may be the right book on happiness for you if you are willing to implement scientific evidence about human potential into your own life.

For many years this has been on of the top books on happiness, being on the bestseller list for quite a few weeks.

2. Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman

Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman

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Takeaways:

  • Understand the concept of “flourishing” and how it goes beyond traditional notions of happiness to encompass well-being, fulfillment, and thriving in various aspects of life.
  • Explore the components of well-being, including positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, and how they contribute to a flourishing life.
  • Learn practical strategies and exercises to cultivate positive emotions, enhance engagement in activities, build strong relationships, and find meaning and purpose in life.
  • Gain insights into the role of character strengths, virtues, and resilience in promoting overall well-being and flourishing.
  • Discover the importance of applying positive psychology principles in education, business, healthcare, and other domains to foster flourishing individuals and communities.

Written by psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, this book focuses on raising the bar for happiness. It addresses feelings of optimism, motivation, and the character that is needed to get the most out of life.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being addresses how happiness alone is not able to give meaning to one's life.

In order to flourish, people also need to be able to cultivate their talents, build deep and lasting relationships, feel pleasure, and make meaningful contributions to the world.

The author describes happiness as being only one of the five parts of flourishing in life, along with engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

This book is rather factual, which some people may not find easy to read through. It is a recap of the recent history of positive psychology and the various fields it is moving into. While there are some good ideas in the book, it is not an organized guide on how to find happiness.

This is a good book for people who are having problems finding motivation or optimism in their lives. It discusses how all of these different factors come together to create a fulfilling life. This is one of the best books on finding happiness within yourself. (Check out our list of best books about life.)

3. Happier Human by S.J. Scott and Amit A.

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Happier Human: 53 Science-Backed Habits to Increase Your Happiness asks and answers a simple question:

When asked what they want from life, many people will list happiness as one of their main desires. (if not the main desire)

Since this is true, why are so many people constantly chasing after things like money, fame and job advancement as path to “happiness”  when these things do almost nothing to increase happiness?

This book references the studies of many of the other researchers and scientists on this page (such Sonia Lubermersy and Martin Seligman) to come up with a complete answer on the above question as well as giving many science-backed methods to achieve greater happiness.

If you are looking for a compendium with all the up to date information on how to achieve happiness, along with many links to the original sources for more information and guidance, then this is the book for you.

If you want to be happier… read Happier Human for some clear and practical steps for taking the theory of happiness and putting it into action.

4. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

0% Happier by Dan Harris

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Takeaways:

  • Embrace mindfulness meditation as a practical tool for reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and finding a sense of calm amidst life's challenges.
  • Explore the author's personal journey with meditation and how it transformed his life, offering insights and practical tips for integrating mindfulness into daily routines.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the science behind meditation and its potential to improve mental well-being and emotional resilience.
  • Learn how to navigate skepticism and misconceptions about meditation while reaping its benefits in a modern, secular context.
  • Discover the potential for meditation to enhance productivity, creativity, and overall happiness, making it a valuable practice for individuals from all walks of life.

After experiencing a panic attack on the air, “Nightline” anchor Dan Harris wrote this self-help book to help people achieve the happiness they are looking for.

Often funny and sometimes bizarre, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story takes the reader on a journey through the author's life and pivotal moment leading up to his passion for mindfulness meditation.

This is an easy read in the sense that the author openly shares his own struggles with anxiety to help the reader connect to the book. The author's stories pull the reader in and make this book a page-turner.

Everyone who reads this book can find a way to identify with at least one of the many facets that emerge throughout Harris's writing.

This is not a “how-to” book for meditation or a scientific dialogue about neurobiology. Rather, it works to challenge people who are interested in meditation about their current habits.

The lessons can be used by both beginners and seasoned meditators who are looking for a new resource or source of inspiration.

For those who are already convinced of the value of meditation and are looking for a complete guide, this may not be the book. However, the author does suggest some more-detailed books that helped him through his journey.

5. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

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Takeaways:

  • The key takeaway from The Book of Joy is the importance of cultivating joy and finding happiness in the face of adversity and suffering.
  • The book emphasizes the value of compassion, empathy, and altruism in creating a more joyful and fulfilling life.
  • It highlights the significance of gratitude and mindfulness in overcoming challenges and finding inner peace.
  • The authors share insights on the interconnectedness of humanity and the power of forgiveness in promoting joy and healing.
  • The Book of Joy encourages readers to embrace a holistic approach to well-being, integrating physical, mental, and spiritual practices to experience lasting joy.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World recounts Archbishop Tutu's visit to the Dalai Lama's home in India to create what they believed would be an offering to other people.

One unexpected bonus of this book is reading about the frequency of the humor and playfulness between these two men. Even when they are recounting a deep discussion, they continue to us wit and joy in order to make each other and the reader laugh out loud.

This may be the right book on happiness for you if you want to find joy in the most difficult of times. Because both of these men have first-hand experiences with hardships and adversity, they are able to give meaningful advice to overcoming life's difficulties.

This book provides a useful guide to understanding wisdom, which may seem to be simple, but is not so easy when trying to apply in practice and cultivate peace of mind.

6. Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman

Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman

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Takeaways:

  • Authentic Happiness introduces the concept of positive psychology and emphasizes the pursuit of well-being and fulfillment rather than just the alleviation of suffering.
  • The book discusses the importance of identifying and utilizing one's strengths and virtues to enhance overall happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Seligman explores the role of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments in fostering authentic happiness and a sense of purpose.
  • The author presents practical exercises and interventions that can help individuals cultivate optimism, resilience, and positive mental health.
  • Authentic Happiness encourages readers to shift their focus from the pursuit of fleeting pleasures to the pursuit of enduring well-being and a meaningful life.

While a large majority of self-help books and popular psychology books discuss the things that are wrong with our lives and what should be done to improve them, this book focuses on what is good.

It teaches the reader how to turn good into great, which makes this a book that focuses on mental wellness instead of mental illness.

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment urges the reader to focus on their personal strengths to uncover their happiness.

It is a very practical book using exercises, tests, and a website program to show readers how to pinpoint their strengths and use them in new ways to bring more joy and satisfaction to life.

This is a very helpful book to provide a new perspective on depression and how it can be relieved by altering your frame of mind.

This might be the right book for you if you are trying to figure out how to see your life in a better light. While it may not be a cure for depression, it is a helpful starting point and a well-thought-out book that is likely to make a difference.

This is a very non-technical book that aims to help the reader understand the role of emotions, and how to effectively manage emotional signals to lead to a more positive life.

7. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

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Takeaways:

  • The Slight Edge emphasizes the power of small daily actions and decisions in achieving long-term success and personal development.
  • The book highlights the importance of consistency, discipline, and perseverance in harnessing the compounding effect of positive habits and choices.
  • Jeff Olson discusses the impact of mindset and attitude on creating a slight edge in various areas of life, such as health, relationships, and finances.
  • The author provides practical strategies for implementing the slight edge philosophy, including setting goals, taking responsibility, and embracing continuous improvement.
  • The Slight Edge encourages readers to recognize the significance of their daily choices and habits in shaping their future outcomes and overall success.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness explores a new way of thinking that lets you make everyday choices that will bring you happiness. It teaches the difference between people who are able to make their dreams come true and those who are not.

This edition of this book reveals how the original concept continues to change lives, and how a certain way of thinking can impact your daily choices and improve your life.

For example, people do not set out to be broke at the age of 35, so what daily choices lead to that situation? Alternatively, people do not decide one day that they will be fat. It takes years of built-up decisions to lead to obesity.

While this simple concept that people's actions compound to eventually lead to good or bad is not new, this book does a great job of simplifying it and making it something that the reader can think about often.

This is a great book on how to be happy for people who tend to procrastinate. Because it focuses so much on what the reader should be doing in the here and now, it works as a great motivator for people who have a hard time just getting started.

This is one of the most versatile happiness books due to the fact it can be used for so many applications (business and life). It is not JUST about finding personal happiness in our crazy world.

8. The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

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Takeaways:

  • The Myths of Happiness challenges common misconceptions about the pursuit of happiness and explores the complexities of human well-being, including adaptation, expectations, and cultural influences.
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky delves into the concept of hedonic adaptation and its impact on long-term happiness, shedding light on why major life events often have temporary effects on our overall well-being.
  • The book examines the role of genetic predispositions, intentional activities, and circumstances in shaping individual happiness, offering insights into sustainable strategies for enhancing life satisfaction.
  • Lyubomirsky discusses the influence of social comparisons, materialism, and the pursuit of perfection on happiness, urging readers to reevaluate their sources of fulfillment and meaning.
  • The Myths of Happiness encourages a deeper understanding of the dynamic nature of happiness and provides evidence-based approaches for cultivating enduring well-being and contentment.

In The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does, the author focuses on life’s biggest moments to give the reader a clear vision of how to build a healthy and satisfying life.

It is an empowering read that allows the reader to see scientific evidence that proves our mindset has a huge impact on our outcomes.

The organization and writing in this book are both very well executed and easy to follow. It would be nice if there were a few more case samples to help learn more about the lives of other people for comparative reasons, but it is overall a very helpful read.

The overall message that can be taken away from this book is that humans have a tremendous capacity to be adaptable through tough times.

9. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

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Takeaways:

  • Stumbling on Happiness explores the cognitive biases and psychological mechanisms that influence our ability to predict and experience happiness accurately, challenging the notion of our capacity to forecast our future emotions.
  • Daniel Gilbert delves into the concept of affective forecasting and how individuals often misjudge what will make them happy, offering insights into the limitations of imagination and memory in shaping our expectations.
  • The book discusses the impact of social and cultural influences on our pursuit of happiness, highlighting the role of adaptation, comparison, and social norms in shaping our well-being.
  • Gilbert presents research findings on the human capacity for resilience and adaptation, shedding light on our ability to find happiness even in adverse circumstances.
  • Stumbling on Happiness encourages readers to reconsider their assumptions about the sources of happiness and offers a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of human emotional forecasting.

Stumbling on Happiness looks at the scientific research in psychology, behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy to show what scientists have found about our ability to imagine the future and predict how happy we will be when we get there.

The author presents his material in a lighthearted and funny way, which keeps the reader engaged. It presents original ideas rather than rehashing tried-and-true lessons that are published in many other books on happiness.

This is a great read for people who are interested in human behavior. It addresses why people have such a hard time at predicting what will make them happy in the future.

Some of the conclusions that the author makes are a bit questionable, but the information leading up to his thoughts is very interesting and definitely worth the read.

10. Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

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Takeaways:

  • Hardwiring Happiness explores the neuroscience of positive mental states and offers practical methods for cultivating resilience, inner strength, and well-being through intentional mental activity.
  • Rick Hanson emphasizes the concept of neuroplasticity and how individuals can rewire their brains to promote lasting happiness, emotional balance, and psychological resilience.
  • The book provides techniques for savoring positive experiences, practicing gratitude, and integrating beneficial mental states into one's daily life to create enduring changes in the brain.
  • Hanson discusses the impact of negative bias and offers strategies for counteracting it by actively internalizing positive experiences to promote emotional well-being.
  • Hardwiring Happiness encourages readers to harness the power of neuroscientific insights to transform their inner landscape, promoting greater happiness, peace, and fulfillment in their lives.

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence addresses the issue of people naturally learning very quickly from bad experiences, yet slowly from good ones.

People tend to absorb all of the negative things around them, and their negative feelings, while pushing any good feelings to the side. In this book, Hanson presents a method to make this change.

The one small criticism for this book also happens to be one of its greatest strengths. Its scope is small, as it focuses on only a handful of messages. While this may seem repetitive, it is also a huge plus.

With so many books trying to cover so much ground, sometimes it is difficult to remember anything that you read afterwards. That is not likely to happen with this book.

This book works to heal that way of thinking by urging the reader to focus on the positive things that happen in their life rather than only the negative.

11. Bouncing Back by Linda Graham MFT

Bouncing Back by Linda Graham MFT

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Takeaways:

  • Bouncing Back offers practical strategies and exercises for building resilience, coping with adversity, and navigating life's challenges with greater strength and flexibility.
  • Linda Graham explores the intersection of neuroscience, mindfulness, and psychology to provide insights into the development of resilience and the capacity for emotional recovery.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of self-compassion, emotional regulation, and cognitive reframing in promoting resilience and bouncing back from setbacks and trauma.
  • Graham provides guidance on fostering positive relationships, social support, and a sense of purpose to enhance resilience and well-being.
  • Bouncing Back encourages readers to cultivate a growth mindset, adaptability, and inner resources to not only overcome adversity but also thrive in the face of life's inevitable difficulties.

In Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being Graham guides the reader on a path to create resilience.

With this ability to face life’s hardships, people are able to rebuild their well-being and keep themselves from being too affected by the challenges that they face. This a well-researched and very technical book that even offers huge benefits just in the quotes and chapter summations.

This book is very clearly written and engages the reader in the author's concern for humanity's well-being.

The author brings together the wisdom of mindfulness, neuroscience, and psychotherapy into an innovative way to build strategies to cope with the upsets and traumas that have the potential to throw your life off track.

The title of this book is a bit misleading, as people who are already resilient can still find a lot of great information in this book. It is more focused on the interworkings of Buddhism, psychology, and the reader, and how people can use information from different subjects to help create happiness in life.

12. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

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Takeaways:

  • The Happiness Project chronicles Gretchen Rubin's year-long experiment to improve her overall happiness and well-being by implementing practical, achievable resolutions and habits.
  • Rubin explores various areas of her life, such as relationships, career, and leisure, and shares insights on finding joy in everyday experiences and fostering a sense of fulfillment.
  • The book highlights the significance of gratitude, mindfulness, and self-reflection in creating a more meaningful and satisfying life.
  • Rubin delves into the impact of small, intentional changes and the pursuit of personal passions on overall happiness and contentment.
  • The Happiness Project encourages readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and intentional living, offering inspiration and practical tips for enhancing daily happiness and well-being.

This light-hearted and easy read makes some great points and teaches positive lessons. While the author's thinking process is analytical, it is easy to follow and identify with. The author is open and honest about herself and her life, so the reader is able to feel comfortable and connected to the narrator.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun isn't too different from others that preach to concentrate on the important things in life.

But it is refreshing to hear from an author that is very aware of her own shortcomings and willing to address them. There is great research presented in this book alongside personal anecdotes that make it even more interesting to read.

Some people may find it to be difficult to relate to the author, as she has a seemingly lucky life with a healthy family and financial stability. However, it is important to remember that the principles that she presents are universal. It is just up to the reader to apply them to their own life.

13. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

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Takeaways:

  • The Happiness Advantage explores the significant impact of positive psychology on individual performance, productivity, and overall well-being, debunking the traditional formula of success leading to happiness.
  • The book emphasizes the role of happiness in enhancing cognitive function, decision-making, and problem-solving, offering insights into how positive emotions can fuel success.
  • Achor delves into the concept of the “fulcrum and lever” and how individuals can shift their mindset to create a ripple effect of positive change in their personal and professional lives.
  • The Happiness Advantage encourages readers to prioritize well-being and happiness, providing actionable steps for cultivating a positive mental outlook and reaping the benefits of the happiness advantage in their endeavors.

This book details research about how to be happy, but it doesn't fall short when coming to being humorous and fun to read. The positive psychology addressed in this book urges people to not procrastinate, and motivates the reader to be more productive.

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work offers the reader tangible advice on how to change bad habits and behavior to lead a happier life.

It then shows you how this advice can be applied to your everyday life, and how it will specifically impact your life both personally and professionally.

14. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

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Takeaways:

  • The Happiness Trap presents the concept of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as a practical approach to overcoming psychological struggles and living a rich, meaningful life.
  • Russ Harris explores the impact of experiential avoidance and cognitive fusion on well-being, offering strategies for developing psychological flexibility and resilience.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, values clarification, and committed action in creating a fulfilling and contented life, irrespective of emotional struggles.
  • Harris provides practical exercises and techniques for defusing from unhelpful thoughts and emotions, fostering self-compassion, and building a life based on personal values.
  • The Happiness Trap encourages readers to embrace the discomfort of negative emotions and thoughts, and to take committed action towards a life aligned with their values, leading to a more meaningful and satisfying existence.

In this book, Harris presents the idea of “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.” He explains how most people become miserable on their quest for happiness, which can be changed by using this new psychotherapy that is based on new research.

Learning ACT helps the reader clarify their values and learn how to live in the present moment, leading to satisfaction in life.

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT may be a good book for you if you have a lot of feelings of self-doubt and stress.

It teaches the reader how to effectively handle negative feelings and emotions, and move forward in a healthy way. It also teaches how to overcome habits that may be self-destructive.

This book presents ACT in an understandable and accessible way, so the reader is able to follow along and apply the concepts to their own life. This book lays out the groundwork for the reader to ultimately make changes to their own thought processes that will result in a happier life.

15. Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson

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Takeaways:

  • Positivity introduces the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, highlighting their role in expanding an individual's mindset and building enduring personal resources.
  • Barbara Fredrickson explores the impact of positive emotions on physical health, mental well-being, and social connections, offering insights into the transformative power of positivity.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of experiencing a broad range of positive emotions and provides practical strategies for increasing happiness in daily life.
  • Fredrickson discusses the upward spiral of positivity and how it can lead to greater resilience, creativity, and overall flourishing, both personally and interpersonally.
  • Positivity encourages readers to cultivate positive emotions, connections, and behaviors, providing evidence-based tools for enhancing well-being and leading a more fulfilling life.

Frederickson teaches the power of positivity in Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life to urge her readers to change their outlook on things to create sustainable happiness.

She presents her own research as well as the research of others to show how positive thinking can change your life.

Although this book feels a bit more like a “self-help” book than others, it is still really engaging to read and very accessible for anyone who is open to believing this concept. This is a great book for people who often have a negative attitude or are not able to look at the bright side of things.

One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that a 3:1 ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts is the breaking point for flourishing. If you have fewer than three positive thoughts for every negative though, there is not a lot of progression.

This is an overall serious and interesting book that offers specific exercises for the readers to do to help increase positivity and follow their passions.

16. Love 2.0 by Barbara Fredrickson

Love 2.0 by Barbara Fredrickson

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Takeaways:

  • Love is not just an emotion but a momentary state of connection and positivity resonance that can be cultivated and experienced in everyday interactions.
  • Positive emotions like love can broaden our awareness and build resources that help us flourish and thrive in life.
  • Love 2.0 challenges the traditional view of love as a long-lasting, exclusive, and passionate bond, and instead focuses on micro-moments of love that can be shared with anyone.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of micro-moments of love in improving our well-being, relationships, and overall happiness.
  • Fredrickson's research suggests that practicing love 2.0 can lead to increased physical health, emotional resilience, and social connectedness.

Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection looks at the important relationship between love and health.

Filled with scientific information that is rather accessible, this book also includes stories that bring the science that is talked about to life. It also offers practical ways to grow micro-moments of love in your life, which will result in happiness.

Love 2.0 also talks about positive interactions in general, and why they are so imperative to human happiness. The reader is urged to change their attitude in order to make positive interactions with everyone they come into contact with, from neighbors to check-out clerks.

It presents a good lesson on why people should be more trusting of the world and of their surroundings in order to appreciate the sincerity and kindness in other people.

17. Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Takeaways:

  • Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the importance of mindfulness in cultivating happiness and living in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  • The book offers practical mindfulness exercises and meditations to help individuals develop a deeper sense of joy and contentment in their daily lives.
  • Happiness is as a byproduct of mindful living, compassion, and understanding, rather than a pursuit of external achievements or material possessions.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh encourages readers to embrace their suffering and transform it into happiness through mindfulness and self-compassion.
  • The practice of deep listening and loving speech is highlighted as essential for nurturing happiness in relationships and fostering understanding and empathy.

Written by a Zen master, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices presents simple and easily adaptable exercises for breathing, resting, thinking, and other everyday activities. Doing certain exercises during mundane daily activities can help people deal with irritation, anger, and stress.

This guide to thinking is both concise and intelligent, with a lot of detail provided for the reader. It shows some small changes that can be made each day to result in a larger benefit of gaining happiness.

The reader does not need to be familiar with Buddhism to learn valuable lessons from this book. It is easy to relate to no matter what your spiritual background, and is a great reference to come back to in the future.

18. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

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Takeaways:

  • The Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of cultivating inner peace and mental discipline to achieve lasting happiness, regardless of external circumstances.
  • The book explores the concept of happiness as a state of mind that can be developed through compassion, kindness, and altruism, rather than being dependent on material wealth or success.
  • The Dalai Lama encourages readers to practice mindfulness and self-awareness in order to recognize and overcome negative emotions and mental patterns that hinder happiness.
  • The art of happiness involves fostering genuine human connections and nurturing a sense of community and belonging, which can contribute to a deeper sense of fulfillment.
  • The book promotes the idea that happiness is not a selfish pursuit, but rather a way to contribute to the well-being of others and create a more harmonious and compassionate society.

The Dalai Lama uses The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living to convey to the reader how he has lived such a happy life, and how people can do so themselves as well.

Through stories, personal conversations, and meditations, the Dalai Lama demonstrates how to overcome anxiety, anger, insecurity, and discouragement.

This book explores many areas and obstacles of life, including relationships, how to be happy alone, financial security, and loss. Through his narrative, the Dalai Lama's personality can really be sensed. His recommendations and analyses of current problems in the world, as well as solutions, are invaluable.

This great read is helpful both psychologically and spiritually. It is a mixture of Buddhist meditations and common knowledge, which helps readers with difficulties that everyone experiences.

19. Pursuing the Good Life by Christopher Peterson

Pursuing the Good Life by Christopher Peterson

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Takeaways:

  • Christopher Peterson emphasizes the importance of positive psychology and the pursuit of well-being as a way to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
  • The book challenges the traditional focus on pathology and instead advocates for understanding and nurturing human strengths and virtues.
  • Peterson introduces the concept of “good life” as a combination of happiness, engagement, and meaning, and provides practical strategies for individuals to pursue this holistic well-being.
  • Pursuing the good life involves cultivating positive emotions, engaging in activities that provide a sense of flow and purpose, and aligning one's actions with personal values and beliefs.
  • The book encourages readers to explore their own strengths and virtues, and to use them as a foundation for building a life that is satisfying and contributes to the greater good.

Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology is a great book for anyone who is interested in positive psychology. Peterson's passion for the topic comes through in this witty and humorous reflection book.

While the format might not suit every reader, as the majority of the stories are independent of each other, it provides a refreshing change of pace because you can skip around in the book.

Each of Peterson's 100 short pieces come across as having a personal chat with him, so the reader is able to feel connected to the author.

This is an easy and thought-provoking read. It is a great book to be able to pick up and put down on short notice.

20. The Good Life by Robert Waldinger M.D. and Marc Schulz Ph.D.

The Good Life by Robert Waldinger M.D. and Marc Schulz Ph.D. | Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment | books on happiness

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Takeaways:

  • Relationships are the key to a fulfilling and happy life, as demonstrated by the Harvard Study of Adult Development.
  • Quality relationships, characterized by trust and support, contribute to physical and mental well-being and can even extend life expectancy.
  • The pursuit of wealth and material possessions does not lead to long-term happiness; instead, investing in meaningful connections with others is more rewarding.
  • The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness emphasizes the importance of prioritizing experiences and memories over material possessions for a truly satisfying life.
  • Cultivating empathy, compassion, and generosity in relationships is essential for personal growth and overall life satisfaction.

21. The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner

The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner | Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment | bestselling books on happiness

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Takeaways:

  • The book explores the concept of “Blue Zones,” regions where people live longer, happier lives, and identifies common factors contributing to their well-being.
  • It emphasizes the significance of strong social connections, community engagement, and a sense of belonging for overall happiness and life satisfaction.
  • The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World's Happiest People highlights the role of regular physical activity, especially in natural environments, in promoting happiness and well-being.
  • Dietary habits and nutrition play a crucial role in fostering happiness, with an emphasis on plant-based diets and mindful eating practices.
  • Cultivating a sense of purpose, meaning, and mindfulness in daily life is essential for achieving and sustaining happiness in the long term.

22. How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado

How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado | Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment | top books on happiness

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Takeaways:

  • The book emphasizes the importance of choosing happiness and gratitude as a daily practice, regardless of external circumstances, to cultivate happiness.
  • It highlights the power of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in fostering personal happiness and building meaningful connections with others.
  • How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations encourages readers to focus on the present moment and find contentment in everyday experiences, rather than constantly striving for future achievements.
  • Developing a resilient mindset and embracing challenges as opportunities for growth are essential components of creating lasting happiness.
  • The author underscores the significance of faith, spirituality, and a sense of purpose in finding true and enduring happiness.

23. Happiness Is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager

Happiness Is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager | Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment | best books on happiness

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Takeaways:

  • Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual challenges the notion that happiness is solely dependent on external circumstances, advocating for a shift in perspective and personal responsibility for one's own happiness.
  • It emphasizes the importance of choosing to be happy, regardless of life's challenges, and developing a positive outlook as a conscious decision.
  • The author explores the impact of moral and ethical values on happiness, suggesting that living with integrity and kindness contributes to a more fulfilling life.
  • The book encourages readers to prioritize meaningful relationships and connections with others as a key factor in achieving happiness and emotional well-being.
  • It underscores the significance of finding purpose and meaning in one's life, as well as the pursuit of personal growth and self-improvement, in the quest for lasting happiness.

Honorable Mentions: Books About Happiness

This list of books on happiness continues to grow. Here are some more great books that you may also want to consider.

The Happiness Makeover by MJ Ryan

The Happiness Makeover by MJ Ryan

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Takeaways:

  • The Happiness Makeover: Teach Yourself to Enjoy Every Day offers practical strategies and exercises to cultivate happiness and well-being, focusing on small daily changes that can lead to significant improvements in overall happiness.
  • It emphasizes the importance of self-care, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits, as essential components of a happier life.
  • The author highlights the power of gratitude and positive thinking in reshaping one's outlook and increasing overall happiness and life satisfaction.
  • The book encourages readers to identify and pursue their passions, interests, and strengths as a means of enhancing happiness and fulfillment in life.
  • It provides guidance on creating a supportive and positive environment, surrounding oneself with uplifting influences and fostering strong social connections for sustained happiness.

Finding Happiness by Abbot Christopher Jamision

Finding Happiness by Abbot Christopher Jamision

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Takeaways:

  • Finding Happiness: A monk's guide to a fulfilling life delves into the concept of happiness from a spiritual perspective, offering insights on finding joy and contentment through mindfulness and self-reflection.
  • It emphasizes the importance of inner peace and tranquility, suggesting that cultivating a calm and centered mind is essential for experiencing true happiness.
  • The author explores the role of compassion, empathy, and service to others as fundamental elements in achieving a deep and lasting sense of happiness.
  • The book encourages readers to embrace simplicity and gratitude, finding joy in the present moment and appreciating life's small pleasures.
  • It provides guidance on navigating challenges and setbacks, emphasizing resilience and faith as pathways to finding happiness even in difficult times.

Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar

Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar

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Takeaways:

  • Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment emphasizes the importance of positive psychology and the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human endeavor, offering practical strategies for achieving a more fulfilling life.
  • It highlights the significance of embracing one's emotions, including both positive and negative feelings, as a means of fostering overall well-being and happiness.
  • The author encourages readers to prioritize meaningful relationships and connections, emphasizing the role of social support and community in contributing to happiness.
  • The book advocates for a balanced approach to life, integrating work, leisure, and personal growth, and underscores the significance of setting and pursuing achievable goals for sustained happiness.
  • It provides insights on the power of gratitude, mindfulness, and self-acceptance in shaping a more positive and fulfilling outlook on life.

Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Happiness

Ultimately, reading these books on finding happiness empowers you to take control of your own happiness. The knowledge, tools, and strategies shared in these books helps you cultivate a more fulfilling and meaningful life, leading to greater overall well-being and contentment.

If you're looking for more resources to help make your life happier, check out these roundups:

books on happiness | the best selling book on happiness | books on finding happiness within yourself

5 thoughts on “23 Best Books on Happiness & Life Contentment [2024 Update]”

  1. Glad you liked the list and have the books Sean. Lots of good stuf fin these books, but you are 100% right, if you have read over 50-60% of them there is likely little left to “learn” it is certainly time to “do”. Best of luck!

  2. I recommend Joyful Transformation by Debra Meehl, her book just puts one in that place of happy. It’s been one of the best reads like this for me in a long time.

  3. I really appreciate you mentioning how Lyubomirsky underscores mindfulness by living the moment as key to living a happy life. Uncle George had been quite depressed lately after losing his work, and he’d sure benefit from reading about how to be happy without spending much or doing anything more than what one is already doing. I’d get the first book you suggested so he could still be grateful despite his situation. Thank you so much!

  4. Great post Steve!! I’ve already got a lot of those books on my wish list. Now I guess I better get busy reading and applying them! Thank for the write-ups and recommendations and good explanation in limited words

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