Self-help books in and of themselves aren’t going to help us as much as the choice we make to read them. In all likelihood, you won’t be reading some revolutionary ideas or thoughts on how to all of sudden be happy all the time. No one has the answer for that, because it’s impossible. What self-help books do, much more than the actual message they convey, is serve as a symbol that you’re trying to change. They show that you have made the commitment to yourself to improve your life, to work on being a better you. If having more happiness in your life is something you want to work on, check out these five books:
This book is an easy read, perfect if you’re struggling just to get through your day. With 100 very short (about a page each) strategies for dealing with day-to-day stressors, Richard Carlson’s book will help you work on letting go of the things you can’t control. His advice will help you respond to typical life situations calmly and rationally, rather than allowing your thoughts to snowball out of control. Once you’ve learning to not sweat the small stuff, you’ll find yourself living a much happier and more satisfying life.
This book is all about being mindful and living in the moment. One of the biggest reasons people feel unhappy is that they are constantly thinking about the future, the past, someone else’s present, but never living their own life. When your days are wasted away thinking about what you don’t have, how can you ever expect to feel happy? Kabat-Zinn talks a lot about meditation, but this book goes way beyond sitting cross-legged with closed eyes and humming. The applications of mindfulness can reach all facets of life.
Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Those are the four agreements according to Ruiz. “Agreements,” as he defines them, are the truths or personal beliefs that we, consciously or subconsciously, have agreed to at some point in our lives. For example, if you believe you aren’t a good person, it’s because at some point you have agreed to that belief. This book will help you toss out your old and negative agreements and help you create new ones which will free you up to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
The subtitle of Burroughs’ book says it all: “Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.” Through candid retelling of personal experiences, Burroughs aims to cut through the generalizations of many self-help books. If you prefer harsh, sometimes in-your-face, and ugly realities when trying to improve yourself, this book is for you. There is no pandering, only tough-love advice on how to deal.
Tolle takes the living-in-the-moment idea presented in Wherever You Go There You Are but takes it a step further. The Power of Now conveys that living in the moment is not only the only path to happiness, but the entirety of the path. According to Tolle, happiness is as simple as that because all of our suffering comes from living in thoughts about a badly-remembered past or an imaginary future.