17 Best Happiness Books and Are They Worth Your Time?

Best Happiness booksIn the pursuit of happiness, we often find ourselves navigating a labyrinth of complexities. The state of happiness, contentment, and fulfillment appear elusive.

Fortunately, there are innumerable resources available to help us navigate a path to happiness and joy.

But with an overabundance of self-help books in existence, it is a challenge to determine which books will be worth our time and which will give us the most bang for our buck.

We have compiled a list to guide you through happiness strategies such as cultivating gratitude, fostering resilience, and nurturing authentic connections with ourselves and others.

This exploration of the best happiness books involves psychology, philosophy, and personal development. So, let’s begin.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Happiness & Subjective Wellbeing Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients identify sources of authentic happiness and strategies to boost wellbeing.

What Is Happiness?

“Together with happiness and meaning, we suggest that psychological richness constitutes an element of a life well lived.”

Oishi & Westgate, 2022, p. 790

Research endeavors, specifically since the emergence of positive psychology, have revealed happiness to be a critical psychological element for achieving optimal human functioning and making life meaningful (Singh et al., 2023).

Happiness can be defined differently and can include multiple meanings (Ruggeri et al., 2020; Singh et al., 2023). Definitions of happiness may involve a state of being, a healthy mental state, a psychological state of mind, and a positive attitude toward life (Singh et al., 2023).

Wellbeing, life satisfaction, and flourishing are all synonymous with happiness (Alexander et al., 2021). You will find that each of these books will address one or more of these areas.

4 Best Happiness Books for Life

As the notorious happiness quote from Forrest Gump goes,

“Life is like a box of chocolates!”

Life can throw some pretty wild curve balls, and remaining in a state of happiness can be difficult. Here are a few books aimed at shifting your mindset. All of these books were rated 4.5 stars or more on Amazon and are recommended by readers like you.

1. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living – The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

The Art of Happiness

Authored by psychiatrist Howard Cutler, this book is based on his week-long interview with the Dalai Lama. This book is a number one on Goodreads and offers an overview of Tibetan Buddhism and the messages conveyed by its leader, the Dalai Lama.

It emphasizes that each person is responsible for their own happiness. Through training the mind and actively cultivating positive attitudes, individuals can attain happiness.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

In this book, Gilbert contends that people face challenges in predicting what will bring joy to their future selves. In other words, people wish to be happy but don’t know how to be happy.

The book probes the intricacies of how our brains forecast the future and investigates their capacity to envision future pleasures.

Drawing from diverse disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, economics, and philosophy, this book extends exploration to human motivation.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living – Russ Harris

The Happiness Trap

Based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), this book empowers its readers to resist temptation. Harris asserts that the way most people seek happiness actually makes them miserable, increasing levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.

By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness techniques, you could be on your way to finding true satisfaction in your life.

This book was selected as one of the 27 best books on happiness and joy to read in 2024 by UpJourney.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier – Arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey

Build the Life You Want

This piece is a collaborative effort of Brooks and Winfrey, and it offers insight into achieving greater happiness and fulfillment.

The book combines art and science, drawing from research in the psychology of happiness and personal development, as well as anecdotes and wisdom from Oprah Winfrey’s own experience.

Through practical advice and inspiring stories, the authors guide readers on a journey to create a more meaningful and joyful life, emphasizing the importance of gratitude, resilience, and purposeful living.

Find the book on Amazon.

Download 3 Free Happiness Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to discover authentic happiness and cultivate subjective well-being.

3 Best Happiness Books for Work

Happiness may not be a word synonymous with work; however, it is essential. Happiness can determine achievements in the professional setting. These are a few resources to help you consider happiness as part of your professional success plan. These titles were also selected because they received ratings of 4.5 stars or more on Amazon.

1. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy – Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus

One of my personal favorites, this book was introduced by my school administration several years ago and is being studied at my current school.

Penned by Jon Gordon, The Energy Bus is a globally acclaimed bestseller. In the captivating and uplifting journey presented by this narrative, readers discover 10 secrets for embracing life and work with a positive, forward-thinking mindset.

This quick read will pave the way for both your professional and personal achievements.

Find the book on Amazon.

Although it is no substitute for the actual book, this animated summary provides additional details on this coveted book.

The Energy Bus Summary

2. The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life – Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage

Authored by Shawn Achor and number seven on the Goodreads list of best happiness books, The Happiness Advantage challenges our commonly held formula for success.

Traditionally, we believe that once we achieve success, happiness will naturally follow. This may include landing your dream job or achieving a weight loss goal. However, scientific research proves otherwise. Happiness actually fuels success, rather than success being fueled by happiness.

This book considers extensive research and includes research derived from the largest happiness study ever conducted. Strategies discussed to help positively rewire your brain include the Tetris effect, ripple effect, and social investment.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life – Sylvia Boorstein

Happiness Book by Silvia Boorstein

How can we continue to be happy despite life’s difficulties and complexities? Boorstein, an experienced psychotherapist, asserts that we can experience happiness even when we’re facing that uphill battle.

In this inspiring book, she shares heartfelt stories and simple exercises that will help you meet challenges with balance and intelligence. Most of these teachings are derived from Buddhist precepts.

Boorstein maintains that wise effort, wise mindfulness, and wise concentration help us to live happily.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Best Audiobooks for Children

Happy children grow into happy adults, for the most part. Whether you’re an educator, parent, or caregiver, the following books will help instill character traits that will help develop happy children.

1. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids – Carol McCloud

Have You Filled a Bucket Today

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is ideal for anyone in a child’s life wishing to create a more positive environment, whether that be in the community, at school, or at home.

To convey the essentials of life, McCloud uses the metaphor of a dipper and a bucket. She explains that when we choose kindness, we fill the buckets of those around us.

This replenishes our own bucket. Unfortunately, we can also “dip” into our buckets and the buckets of others by doing mean things. This book encourages children to be bucket fillers.

Find the audiobook on Amazon.

2. Happy Sad Octopus: A Little Poem and Drawings to Spread Happiness – The Wizard

Happy Sad Octopus

This heartwarming short story involves the adventure of Happy Sad Octopus, who doesn’t like unpredictable emotions.

Overall, this story is about how to keep sadness from overwhelming you. The Wizard narrates this life lesson in a cute rhyming poem format.

Find the audiobook on Amazon.

3. Empowering Positive Affirmations for Kids: Building Resilience, Happiness, and Success, One Thought at a Time – Holli Cooper

Empowering Positive Affirmations for Kids

With changing their mindset being the ultimate goal, the intent of Empowering Positive Affirmations for Kids is to prepare children for the unique academic, physical, and emotional challenges life will bring.

This book contains not only over 2,500 child-friendly affirmations to instill self-esteem and foster resilience, but also caregiver and parent tips for using positive affirmations effectively and efficiently with children.

Find the audiobook on Amazon.

3 Happiness Books for Parents

Raising kids is no easy task, and the thought of raising happy children while enduring the challenges of parenting is daunting. We have found a few resources to assist parents in their journey.

1. Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents – Christine Carter

Raising Happiness

Raising Happiness is a guide for anyone who wants to raise happy children who will exhibit positive emotions through adolescence and into adulthood.

The simple tips, secrets, and strategies presented help make kids more joyful and ensure happier and easier parenting. Based on scientific research, this book has deep roots in positive psychology.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Happy Kids: The Secrets to Raising Well-Behaved, Contented Children – Cathy Glass

Happy Kids

Written by a foster carer, this comprehensive guide considers chronological child development. Using the three R’s technique (request, repeat, reassure), Glass addresses why children misbehave and what caregivers can do to address the misbehavior.

Handling behaviors resulting from special needs, preventing sibling rivalry, and how a diet may affect behavior are explained.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Raising Resilient Kids – Rhonda Spencer-Hwang

Raising Resilient Kids

Raising Resilient Kids: Eight Principles for Raising Happier, Healthier Children is written by professor of public health Rhonda Spencer-Hwang.

Considering her research involving a world-renowned community famous for its health and longevity, Spencer-Hwang’s aim of this book is to empower children, discourage picky eating, reduce negative stress, instill values to serve others, enhance academic performance, and encourage kids to explore their purpose.

Find the book on Amazon.

The following is a list of books that have been recommended by our valued readers like you. We hold your opinion in high regard and look forward to even more titles for the best happiness books in the comment section.

1. Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis Prager

Happiness Is a Serious Problem

Happiness is a problem? That is quite the assertion, isn’t it? In this national bestseller, Prager posits that happiness isn’t just a value, but a moral obligation.

Not only does happiness make an individual a better person, but it also creates a better environment for the people around them and encourages them to be happy themselves, thriving as a result of this happiness.

Although not an easy task, happiness can be cultivated through gratefulness and contentment. This book has a glowing review from the New York Times that encourages anyone who wants to be happy to read this book.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Why Am I So Happy? The Sign of True Success Is a Happy Heart – Paula Neva Vail

Why Am I So Happy

This guidebook for happiness is a must-have for anyone seeking a better life and a more positive mindset. Vail, who is a leader in personal empowerment, arms the reader with essential tools for a happier life by sharing her own challenges and accomplishments.

By making better choices and changing our attitude, Vail posits that individuals can find happiness and describes how this can be done.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. How to Be Happy: Learn the 3 Pillars of True Happiness – Dena Moore

How to Be Happy

Sometimes it seems as though happiness comes so easily. Other times, it feels as though something may have taken happiness away from you.

This book will help you gain knowledge on how to maintain happiness to ensure that it isn’t so fleeting. Being, getting, and staying happy is a choice.

Moore introduces the three pillars of happiness and how each one is imperative to being happy. This book is rated five stars on Amazon.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment – Martin Seligman

Authentic Happiness

The father of positive psychology wrote this valuable handbook to explore the process through which individuals maintain or elevate happiness.

Authentic Happiness focuses on leveraging one’s strengths to improve happiness, as opposed to curing one’s afflictions. This concept is referred to as mental wellness. The book was recommended on Oprah Daily.

Find the book on Amazon.

17 Exercises To Increase Happiness and Wellbeing

Add these 17 Happiness & Subjective Well-Being Exercises [PDF] to your toolkit and help others experience greater purpose, meaning, and positive emotions.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Resources From PositivePsychology.com

PositivePsychology.com has a plethora of resources to discover more about happiness. As always, these materials are research-based and scientifically backed.


If you want to learn about measuring happiness and how to quantify it, perhaps our article 6 Happiness Tests & Scales to Measure Happiness will be of interest to you.

To learn more about the basics, as well as the nitty-gritty of happiness, take a look at our article What Is Happiness and Why Is It Important?


Happiness involves doing more of what you love. Here is a resource to ensure you set aside more time for your favorite activities. Our Pleasant Activity Scheduling Worksheet will help you design a life that involves more positivity and pleasure.

When people have a purpose, they are generally happier. In cultivating more of your own happiness, you may want to examine your personal goals. Further, knowing your strengths will help you commit more effort toward these goals. Our Goals and Strengths Worksheet may help you organize these strength-connected goals.

Being grateful is a pillar of happiness. A poor person who is grateful for what they have will be happier than one who doesn’t appreciate what they have. Our Gratitude Journal will be an excellent tool for encouraging you to practice gratefulness.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop strategies to boost their wellbeing, check out this collection of 17 validated happiness and wellbeing exercises. Use them to help others pursue authentic happiness and work toward a life filled with purpose and meaning.

A Take-Home Message

As we have reached the conclusion of our exploration into the realm of the best happiness books, it is evident that the quest for joy is not a destination to be reached, but a journey to be embraced. We have learned that happiness is not a fleeting emotion, but instead a state of mindfulness, gratitude, and compassionate action.

As we reflect on this list of resources, let us remind ourselves that happiness is not something we can seek; it is instead a mindset to be discovered within ourselves.

Several of these titles were suggested by our valued readers. Do you have any favorites that weren’t included in this list? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Happiness Exercises for free.

ED: Updated April 2024

  • Alexander, R., Aragón, O. R., Bookwala, J., Cherbuin, N., Gatt, J. M., Kahrilas, I. J., Kästner, N., Lawrence, A., Lowe, L., Morrison, R., Mueller, S., Nusslock, R., Papadelis, C., Polnaszek, K., Richter, H., Silton, R., & Styliadis, C. (2021). The neuroscience of positive emotions and affect: Implications for cultivating happiness and wellbeing. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 121, 220–249.
  • Oishi, S., & Westgate, E. C. (2022). A psychologically rich life: Beyond happiness and meaning. Psychological Review, 129(4), 790–811.
  • Ruggeri, K., Garcia-Garzon, E., Maguire, Á., Matz, S., & Huppert, F. A. (2020). Well-being is more than happiness and life satisfaction: A multidimensional analysis of 21 countries. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 18, Article 192.
  • Singh, S., Kshtriya, S., & Valk, R. (2023). Health, hope, and harmony: A systematic review of the determinants of happiness across cultures and countries. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(4), Article 3306.

What our readers think

  1. Olujide Jacob Olúmọfẹ

    Am happy to see these preambles on the Topic, Happiness.
    Which has been in my mind to work on in poetry, text and motivational speech.
    And I believe it will impact life positively.

  2. David Shinfield

    My parents never taught me how to be happy, and today, as a father of a adult son, I realised that how important task for a parent to teach their children the code of happiness. And I have been thinking if my son had only one book he could have from me, which would be the one ultimately for him ?

    Thanks for your summary, and until I have the answer, your insight thoughtfulness will always have me inspired.


    • Abraham

      Hey, David. Do you have the answer yet? It’s been 6 months now and I’d find it very interesting.

  3. Tracey L Sloan

    I am writing a book about happiness so this was super useful to me to understand the various angles others have taken…can’t wait to take the road less traveled!! Tracey Lorraine 🙂

  4. Austin Macauley Publishers

    Great Post. I like reading and it’s very useful for me. Thank you for Sharing.


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