We’ve been indoors, dragging all winter, and if you’re like me, you’re looking for some serious inspiration for the summer months. As an author of a happiness book myself, I tend to be picky about what I read—it needs to be inspiring, smart (research-backed) and entertaining—that combo is rare but always a winner! The good news is that these 8 fabulous new books fit the picture. They will in turn move, elate and motivate you toward a happier, more successful and joyful Spring! Happy reading!
Barking Up The Wrong Tree: Legendary viral blogger Eric Barker, whose blog has 300,000 followers, has finally written an epic book in his usual highly entertaining and well-researched style. Eric stands traditional views of success (think “winners never quit and quitters never win” and “good guys finish last”) and turns them on their head. Funny, witty and highly informative, this book gives you concrete how-to’s for reaching your maximum potential while also living a happy and fulfilled life. Eric interviews extraordinary leaders and champions as well as kung fu con artists and NAVY SEALS. Put your seat belt on and get ready to be inspired!
The Compassionate Achiever by Christopher Kukk: We often hear that it’s a sink-or-swim dog-eat-dog kind of a world. You need to elbow your colleague out of the way, after all it’s survival of the fittest out there. But what does the research say? It says we’re plain wrong. If we operate with compassion and kindness, we actually get ahead better and farther—but we do so while also staying happy and fulfilled, not to mention that we improve our health and increase our longevity. In this new book by Dr. Christopher Kukk who successfully turned his university into one of the first compassionate universities gives us very pragmatic how-to’s for how to live a life that has compassion at its core. (And if you like this book, don’t miss the classic book on givers, takers and how givers get ahead by Adam Grant, an all-time favorite book of mine, Give & Take).
REAL LOVE by Sharon Salzberg: Acclaimed meditation teacher Salzberg has spent decades teaching meditation across the United States and the world. In particular, she introduced the practice of loving-kindness meditation in the West, revolutionizing the way we relate to each other and ourselves. Research that my colleagues and I conducted on Sharon Salzberg’s Loving Kindness Meditation actually showed that even 7 minutes of practice (try it yourself here) makes you feel happier and more connected to others, and that these changes are also reflected in the brain. Now Sharon has finally written an epic book on love. It is a moving account of how the quality of our relationship with ourselves—self-love—can deeply impact our relationships with all others. A must-read for anyone who has ever felt that they are hard on themselves and would like to open their hearts even wider—encompassing not just others, but also themselves. (And if you love this topic, don’t forget the classic book on self-compassion research, a wonderful companion to Sharon’s work, Self-Compassion By Dr. Kristin Neff)
Into the Magic Shop: This moving NY Times bestseller by a Stanford neurosurgeon that just came out in paperback will leave you deeply inspired. Doty was born into dire poverty, neglected as a child by an alcoholic father and invalid mother. Yet a shopkeeper (of a Magic shop of all places!) took him under her wing for a summer and taught him to meditate. For the first time in his life, he felt hope. From those impoverished circumstances, Doty has become one of the nation’s top neurosurgeons and founder of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Dr. Doty’s stories and insights are always deeply moving and insightful. His entertaining and practical explorations of compassion and kindness touch and inspire.
The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith: In this gorgeous book, Smith explores one of the most fundamentally profound aspects of our lives: what gives us meaning? In a world focused on materialism, achievement and status, we’ve all at times felt lost from the lack of purpose of it all. Smith provides us with a powerful antidote. A combination of stories and research, Smith’s moving account delves into what makes us come alive. What makes us feel not only happy, but fulfilled? You’ll be inspired by Smiths’ accounts of extraordinary people living a life on purpose. Smith shows us the way to living a more vibrant, fulfilling and inspired life.
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant: In this powerful new book by Facebook‘s Sheryl Sandberg and NY Times bestselling author Adam Grant, the authors explore something fundamental to all of our lives: what happens when we are faced with sudden grief and pain and how can we gain strength through these experiences. How do we handle our feelings? How do we reconnect with others?We’ve all been in a situation where either we ourselves have been going through a hard time or someone else has—and yet we don’t know what to do, and neither do those around us. Using research-backed tools and inspirational stories, Sheryl and Adam provide us with the fundamentals of what it means to be resilient and to grow from our difficulties and how we can support others and help them thrive in the face of life’s challenges. A moving and must-read manifesto on how to live life bravely—because like it or not, it comes with its ups and downs. Finally there’s a how-to book by two brilliant people to help us through it.
Awakening Compassion at Work by Jane Dutton and Monica Worline: Written by two of my favorite colleagues, this book explains how living human values at work—compassion, caring and affection—can actually enhance our professional potential. With decades of research and examples under their belt, the authors show us that we can be successful and retain our values—in fact, we’ll be more successful. Organizations that care about their employees see greater retention, loyalty, customer service and productivity—not to mention a better bottom line. Flying in the face of current views that the only way to retain good employees is to give them material perks, Dutton and Worline demonstrate that authentic human connection goes much farther. Inspiring, practical and a must-read for everyone who wants to be happier at work and become a more powerful and impactful leader.
The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppala – Shameleslly including my own here, that just came out in paperback. I have too often seen how people abandon self-compassion in order to pursue success and forego compassion in order to advance in life. Yet again and again, when you look at the research, if you take care of yourself and those around you – you are not only happier and healthier but you are also much more successful at attaining your life’s goals.
A version of this article first appeared on MindBodyGreen