Finding happiness is both complicated and simple at the same time. Whether you want to expand your mind, welcome new changes, or simply learn how to love yourself, happiness is usually the solution. Life-changing books about finding what makes life worth living are a great place to start.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Self-Help Books About Finding Happiness Within Yourself
- Books About Finding Happiness and Peace
- Book About Finding Happiness in Life
- Books About the Science of Finding Happiness
- Spiritual Books About Finding Happiness
Books are a way to walk in someone’s footsteps and experience life through their eyes. It’s also a way to learn new things and to undertake new strategies towards a happier future.
In this guide, we’ll share 25 of the best happiness books to read before you die. Your to-be-read list has never looked brighter.
Self-Help Books About Finding Happiness Within Yourself
While self-help books don’t always get the best reputation, there’s certainly some truth to what’s within their pages. Taking some time to read books that put life in perspective and push your boundaries is a great way to reflect on your own life. These self-help books are all about finding happiness already within yourself.
1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Likely one of the most well-known books about happiness, Rubin’s The Happiness Project blends both academic research and real-life experience. In this book, readers learn how to change their life without actually changing anything outside of your mindset.
2. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
If you love to travel and experience new things, The Geography of Bliss is for you. In it, one man searches for the happiest place on earth to determine what makes them so special. Along the way, he learns how finding “the good life” might not have been so hard in the first place.
3. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lybomirsky
The How of Happiness includes more than real-life tips, but actual, daily practices to make your life better. Full of activities, quizzes, exercises, and more, this is a hands-on way to find your own happiness.
4. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Written by famous TV writer and creator Shonda Rhimes, this book is all about leaning into what scares you most. Part memoir and part self-help book, this is a way to learn more about what motivates you to be better.
5. A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink
If you’re feeling alone, A Manual for Heartache is for you. This is the script for finding happiness even in the darkest of times, especially if you struggle with depression and grief. The secret might not lie outside of you at all.
Books About Finding Happiness and Peace
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a one-size-fits-all approach to happiness and peace? While that might not be true, these authors below know a thing or two about finding contentment where you are.
6. The Gift of Presence by Caroline Welch
This book describes itself simply as a mindfulness guide for women, but it’s much more than that. With so much hustle and bustle in our daily lives, learning to find happiness in the small, everyday moments is something extraordinary. Created by the mastermind Caroline Welch of the Mindsight Institute, this is a powerful book.
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson flips the stereotype that you need to always see the positive by saying it’s time to stop caring about things that don’t matter. To find zen, you need to do away with the boundaries and worries that hold you back.
8. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is one of the leading self-help books in today’s world, and with good reason. All about dropping the harmful backlog of thoughts that put us down, this really is a guide to spiritual peace and enlightenment.
9. Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
Most people might have an idea of what they think happiness is. Whether it’s being lucky in life or love or having all the right genes, Seligman argues the opposite in Authentic Happiness. To this psychologist and best-selling author, happiness is all about knowing one’s personal strengths.
10. Happiness Is an Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein
If you want to live better, you need to look inwards. Boorstein is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher, and she answers the question, “How can we keep our minds in a positive mood despite life’s challenges?” Throughout Happiness Is an Inside Job, she offers both advice and wisdom to answer her own question.
Book About Finding Happiness in Life
Happiness doesn’t have to come from any external event. Sometimes it’s already waiting in our own lives. Gratitude books and uplifting podcasts help us unlock this potential, but these books push you even further.
11. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Comedic writer Jessi Klien puts into words the experiences that all women share at one point or another in You'll Grow Out of It. Always witty and relatable, Klein is a master of embracing womanhood and one’s flaws.
12. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
With a lot of experience training medical professionals and coaches in the art of mindfulness, this book is an empowering way to take back your own control. The pressure to be happy all the time could actually lead to the opposite effect, which Harris names The Happiness Trap. Instead, we should practice mindfulness in everyday moments.
13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Though Wild is a memoir and not a self-help book, this narrative follows Strayed as she travels over 1,000 miles after the death of her mother. Along the way, she discovers that she had more strength than she knew.
14. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
The most important thing when it comes to happiness, according to this psychologist, is to be positive. As we all know, this is easier said than done. In this bestseller, you’ll learn the best strategies for keeping your mindset positive, no matter what comes your way.
15. Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord
Once he realizes he’s not sure how to improve his clients’ happiness, Hector, a fictional psychiatrist, travels the world. He discovers what’s at the foundation of joy in this book—and the answer might surprise you.
Books About the Science of Finding Happiness
While science can’t account for everything, a lot of research has been done on the search for happiness. What makes brains react differently? What chemicals cause joy in our bodies? More importantly, how can we use this to our advantage?
16. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Gilbert won the Royal Society of Science Prize for his efforts in psychology and neuroscience, so it’s no wonder his book makes this list. In Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert shows the secrets behind motivation. By looking at unique experiments, we all learn a bit about our own happiness along the way.
17. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
As co-designer of Harvard’s course on happiness, Anchor knows a thing or two about psychology. In this book, he highlights the seven core principles of positive psychology that improve our careers and overall success.
18. The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha
The Happiness Equation is a powerful book that reveals the 9 secrets of happiness. It’s a simple equation: want nothing + do anything = have everything. While it might sound overly basic, Pasricha might be onto something.
19. Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan
What would happiness look like if you could control it yourself? A professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics believes he can help readers do just that in Happiness by Design. How can one make it easier to be happy? It has to do with what we do, not how we think.
20. Happiness: Lessons from a New Science by Richard Layard and Baron Layard
This science-backed book explores why we make decisions. Written by a leading economist, this book brings to light the reality of social and economic pressures to share why so many people struggle with happiness.
Spiritual Books About Finding Happiness
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the spirituality behind joy and happiness. These books prove that a bit of meditation on life and meaning goes a long way.
21. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
The Art of Happiness is both a memoir on the Dalai Lama and a guide to spirituality. While working with psychologist Howard Cutler, this book explores how the Buddhist leader found happiness despite a life full of loss.
22. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
In Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert shares her experience traveling through Italy, India, and Indonesia after leaving everything behind. Only when starting over and embracing her spiritual side did she find what she was looking for.
23. Happiness Beyond Thought by Gary Weber
Weber incorporates Zen Buddhist teachings with the latest brain research to create this simple guide for achieving happiness. His book includes yoga practices, meditation, and more to lead a path to awakening.
24. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Dr. Peck believes all of life’s problems could be solved by combining classical spiritual views with modern science. Through discipline, nature of love, religion, and grace, one can become a better human being. Find out more in The Road Less Traveled.
25. The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu survived decades of exile and oppression. When Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home, they looked back on their long lives to answer the age-old question: How does one find joy in the face of suffering? See how they illuminate the answers in The Book of Joy.
Journey to Self-Discovery Through Happiness
While nobody’s yet cracked the code to human happiness, these authors above come close. They know the importance of considering your own thoughts, actions, and realities. How can you achieve more with what you’re given? The answer might surprise you.
Reading about the perspectives of psychologists, scientists, and some of the world’s greatest thinkers is an excellent way to expand your own horizons. Happiness doesn’t need to be an unattainable goal. It’s closer than you think.