Many times self-help books are the first stop for up to an estimated 80% of the American population when experiencing sadness, stress, anxiety, or just plain discontentment with life. People tend to turn, first, to a book instead of stepping in a therapist’s office to save time, money, and some times- perceived social stigma.
Although research has found therapy to be the best course of treatment for most clinical mental health issues- self help books can often be very helpful in giving the reader at least a step in the right direction. Here are my top ten recommendations to get you started:
1) Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
He started by teaching Psychology 101 to a class of 100 Harvard students, which immediately began to grow to thousands, including members of the press and media wanting to know the secrets to happiness. His book is a practical, no-frills guide to what makes us happy, and one of my greatest inspirations to study happiness while in grad school.
2) Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman- Martin Seligman is pretty much the father of the positive psychology movement, and he pretty much sets the foundation for why what we do makes us happy…Coming from a strong academic background, his books due tend to be a bit more research laced, but nonetheless an important read.
Mark Williams (Author), John Teasdale (Author), Zindel Segal (Author), Jon Kabat-Zinn (Author)- This books sets the foundation for why it is so important to engage in daily meditation, and why it is so important to be present in our emotions vs. avoiding them.
4) Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness by James Baraz andShoshana Alexander – although a bit higher on the cheese factor/chicken soup for the soul-esque, this book is chock full of brilliant quotes about what makes us truly happy, and intertwined with real life experience to apply the concepts.
5) A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle– Tolle has an amazing ability to convey his sense of peace and calm through his writing. This book solidifies his ideas in The power of now, about staying in the present moment, and how we default to thinking about the past or future which is usually unnecessary
6) Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E: What We Know Now, About Happiness (Volume 1) – Paperback (Apr. 20, 2011) by Dr. Colleen Long- Of course I would be remiss if I did not include my own book on happiness, which is the culmination of what I’ve learned from the proceeding books, as well as what I observed during graduate training, about the techniques that seemed to change my patients’ lives the most
7) 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 by Gretchen Rubin (Mar 1, 2011)- The thing I love about her book is that she is a real person. She just wanted to feel happier and began to be more pro-active about putting happiness back into her life. She is a beautiful demonstration of how one can have all the “things,” we think we want, but nothing we actually need.
8) Kabbalah: The Power to Change Everything by Yehuda Berg– This book was one of the first spiritually based books I read, that got me thinking about radically changing the way I approach life. Instead of always focusing on how to get ahead, and focusing on how to help others get ahead- your life spiritually transforms in a way it could never do before. Some of the mysticism and mathematics get a little off track and lose the reader, but it is a great spiritual foundation for happiness.
9) The Spiritual Rules of Engagement: How Kabbalah Can Help Your Soul Mate Find You by Yehuda Berg (Apr 28, 2008)- If you read this book, you’ll never have to read anything else about how to find, and maintain a successful relationship with your partner. It completely sums up the role of the ego and how it can deter us from reaching lasting fulfillment and love.
10) Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne W. Dyer (Jan 1, 2009) – Yes also a bit higher on the cheese factor, Wayne Dyer gives me the “motivational speaker” heebie jeebies sometimes, but this book is phenomenal. The Tao was laid down long ago, and it’s wisdom still applies today. I would recommend getting the audio version of this, and listening to a little bit each day on your ride in to work.
Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.” Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships, body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560