I realize this is a really weighty title. But I do think that a book can inspire ideas and ways of thinking that have the power to transform our lives. These five books are powerhouses: filled with research, observations, stories, and some practical suggestions for everything from creating better habits to learning to make good decisions and becoming happier in ways that are meaningful and lasting.
Written by Martin Seligman, a University of Pennsylvania professor who is considered one of the founders of the field of positive psychology, this book outlines four core components of well-being: positive emotion, engagement with what one is doing, a sense of accomplishment, and good relationships. It's filled with research and stories to illustrate and back up each component, and while not a self-help book specifically, it's one of the richest resources -- and most accessible -- on your journey to living a life that makes you happier.
Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner who has written an incredible book that dives into the mysterious world of our conscious and unconscious thinking patterns. If you're like me, as you read it you'll shake your head in denial, disbelief, and surprise. Your brain will feel like it's going to explode from all the fascinating revelations you discover and you'll gain a deeper understanding about how you make decisions and react to certain things in your life. Yes, this is a super thick book that can absolutely seem intimidating, but somehow the author makes it accessible and really fun to read.
Written by award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg, this book is an awesome mix of research, stories, and revelations about habits: how we form them, how we can change them, and how knowledge about human habits is transforming everything from the way companies are run to where fruits and vegetables are placed in the grocery store.
The first words in this classic and powerful book are: Life is difficult. Without hiding the true realities of life -- which is filled with conflict, difficulties, and challenging decisions -- Dr. Scott Peck guides us to a deeper level of self-understanding and creates a path we can follow to a fuller, more serene life. (Disclaimer: I have heard about this book for years before I finally decided to pick it up. It always seemed like that book everyone talks about but I was sure was not for me. After gulping it down in a few days, I can vouch for this: It may not be for everyone, but it's worth your time.)
You don't need to be religious or spiritual to read this book. In fact, I found it to be a really refreshing, non-preachy read -- and I'm someone who had trouble with the word "spirituality" just a few years ago. The core message of the book is simple and powerful: The way to true happiness is through learning to live in the now, in this moment we are experiencing, without reliving the past or racing to the future. It's not a simple feat for most of us and knowing this, Ekhart Tolle helps us understand how our thoughts and emotions get in the way and what to do about it.