The power of positive reading

Five of our favourite books with a focus on happiness


The power of positive reading

For practical strategies The How Of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

Lyubomirsky has studied thousands of people in an effort to find what really makes us happy. After years of research, she thinks she has the answer, and in this highly practical book, she debunks many common myths about happiness, and offers more than a dozen strategies for positive living.

Try it at home: Before you say goodbye to your partner in the morning, find out one thing he or she plans to do that day, then ask about it when you get home.

For treating depression without drugs Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns

Focusing on wellbeing without medication, Burns talks the reader through drug-free cures to an array of depressive disorders, from anxiety to pessimism, guilt to procrastination. Readers can also learn more about the side effects and interactions of antidepressant drugs, and how to tell if a drug is really working.

Try it at home: Learn to spot what Burns calls ‘common distortions’ in thinking, for example ‘over-generalisation’ – you see a single negative event as an endless pattern of defeat. Identifying common distortions helps to break negative spirals of emotion.

For a philosophical outlook Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Gilbert’s journey through the psychology, economics and philosophy of wellbeing is a reassuring reminder that, while happiness is worth searching for, we shouldn’t feel like failures if we don’t feel good all the time. Touching on the intangibility of happiness and the tricks our minds play, this is an entertaining discussion, and a gentle reminder that if we’re concerned about happiness then we’re actually in a very fortunate position.

Think about it: ‘When we imagine future feelings, we find it impossible to ignore what we’re feeling now, and impossible to recognise how we will think about things that happen later.’

For mindfulness The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living by Dr Russ Harris

A therapist and former GP, Harris is a proponent of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The Happiness Trap draws on ACT to reveal how we can learn to let go of the things we have no control of, and begin to change the things truly within our power.

Try it at home: Tap in to your ‘observing self’ – the part of your consciousness that is aware of your thoughts and actions – in order to become mindful. For an overview Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman It was Seligman’s 1992 speech to the American Psychological Association that really launched the positive-psychology movement. Authentic Happiness gives a fascinating overview of how positive psychology has evolved in the past 20 years, and advice on strategies we can all adopt. Try it at home: Identify your signature strengths to help you define your goals and values.

Need inspiration for your next read? Try something from our Top 10 classic novels!