A smile might feel elusive when you’re in the workplace, and that’s where the following 29 books come in. They have different authors and come from different genres, but they share one core theme: happiness.
Whether you wonder how to find it or how to hold onto it when it seems fleeting, one of these books will hold the answers to your questions — and the keys to unlocking that grin that’s been under wraps. Read on to find out which book best suits you, and then add it to your reading list.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor: We’ve been going about obtaining happiness the wrong way, says Achor in his book, inspired by the tenants of positive psychology. He sets out to prove that happiness fuels success and not the other way around — an interesting thought if you’re jonesing for a promotion or new position.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: Gretchen Rubin believed she should have been happier in her life than she was, so she set out to change it. She sought to achieve happiness in different areas of life, charting her progress with measurable goals — her more successful attempts could fuel your own happiness.
Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman: We touched on positive psychology above, and here’s a book on it by its founder and champion. Seligman has spent his career touting the benefits of choosing happiness, as he believes it has nothing to do with genes or luck. His advice could help you choose happiness, too.
Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard: Matthieu Ricard’s background seems to lend itself to being an expert in how happiness works: He worked as a molecular biologist before becoming a Buddhist monk. Here, he provides a guide to finding bliss that seems to be working for him just fine — scientists have called him the “happiest man alive.”
The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama: Much like Ricard, the Dalai Lama is known for his bright smile and outlook, despite having lost his country. Still, he uses his platform to help others. He wrote meditations and guides to help you navigate through anxiety, discouragement, anger — all emotions you’re likely to feel at work and beyond.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: How often do you find yourself daydreaming about your next day at work, your next presentation or your next promotion? Daniel Gilbert breaks down humans’ propensity to look to the future and decide how they’ll feel about the changes that will come — ultimately, you don’t know who you’ll become and how you’ll feel down the line.
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar: Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar’s class on Happiness has students lined up to take it and saying their lives have been changed by the end of term when they do. His book puts his lectures on paper, combining research, scholarly articles, self-help advice and spiritual guidance. The end result is an actionable list of principles you can apply to your workplace life and beyond.
Before Happiness by Shawn Achor: Work colleagues, friends, family members: Perhaps you see others in your life who seem so much more able to achieve happiness than you. This book gives you the proof that it’s possible for you to do the same, and it also reiterates the importance of happiness in achieving success in all things.
The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot: Most people still hold onto a super positive outlook on life despite the world around them, and Sharot believes it’s because optimism is vital to the human existence. Among the points she makes, Sharot shows how optimistic visions can affect your decision-making in the workplace.
Happiness at Work by Srikumar Rao: This book teaches readers to reset their notions of what’s “bad” — instead labeling less-than-good things as “neutral.” From there, you can start to find positivity in environments that don’t typically create that sentiment, including the most stressful workplaces.
The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky: Society has given us all the idea that, once we reach a certain age and maturity, we’ll have it all figured out and everything will be A-Okay. Lyubomirsky shatters that notion and says it’s dangerous to our happiness long-term. See how you can find satisfaction with your normal.
How to Be Happy, Dammit by Karen Salmansohn: Not everyone loves to read self-help books. This frank take on positivity will suit that crowd and show them what it takes to draw satisfaction from every single day.
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt: You walk into work with an agenda in mind, and yet, by the end of the day, you’ve somehow managed to avoid half of the items on your list. Haidt explains this phenomenon — the human difficulty to stick to our pre-made plans — and others in this book.
The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatt: Authors Reivich and Shatt believe resilience is the key to having a happy life — the way you face and overcome obstacles can make or break your happiness. Of course, they provide tips and tricks to improve your resilience so you can clear life’s hurdles better and, therefore, feel better.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: You can probably remember a day at work when you were in the flow: creative, focused and so productive that you lost track of time. Csikszentmihalyi teaches how this positive state of mind doesn’t have to be something that happens — you can control it and make it happen for yourself on a regular basis.
Work Happy by Jill Geisler: Maybe your whole team needs their outlook updated. This book provides all of the information and action you need to workshop through it to foster better relationships and build better leaders.
Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman: Some tasks at work will leave you feeling so flustered and frustrated that your only reaction is to throw your hands in the air and give up. Seligman will help you stop doing that by changing the way you act and the way you talk to yourself.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson: A client running late to your sales pitch. A copier that’s seemingly constantly out of toner. A co-worker who pops her gum in the cubicle next to yours. Carlson knows it’s easy to stress about little things, but he gives you ways to calm down despite the ample amount of triggers in your everyday life.
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson: Positivity is a powerful tool. It can make your connections more secure, your future visions clearer and your ability to rebuild after a setback stronger. Fredrickson puts readers into what she calls an “upward spiral” to achieve this new outlook.
Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham: You won’t become a leader by focusing on your flaws. Instead, Buckingham believes you need to determine your talents and strengths — and then hone them to rise to the top. This business-minded self-help book aims to help you become better personally and as a manager.
The Positive Dog by Jon Gordon: In a collaborative environment like the workplace, you don’t want to drag others down. Your pessimistic side does just that, though — this book sets out to change it.
The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte: There’s something more important than setting goals, according to Danielle LaPorte. It’s figuring out how you want to feel at work, and letting that guide your decision-making. This and other nuggets of wisdom make this book a great read for everyone seeking success via happiness.
Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers: This book was released in 2006, and yet it continues to be a staple — and salient — in the self-help world. Jeffers teaches readers how to empower themselves to do anything they want, whether it’s finally asking for a raise or heading up an important project — no fear allowed.
Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson: Hint: Buddha’s brain was no different from yours, at least biologically. He made changes so the thoughts going in and out were more likely to be positive ones, however. This book provides tips so you can do the same.
Lift by Ryan W. Quinn and Robert E. Quinn: Your mindset doesn’t just hold you back —it can hold back those around you, too. Since that’s hardly the point of working together and collaborating, you can use this book to teach you how to create your positive attitude and use it as a positive influence instead.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: Society as a whole and your co-workers in the workplace might give you a false idea of who and how you should be. Brown’s book implores you to shake the habit of comparing yourself to others and instead find compassion and confidence in being yourself.
Being Happy! by Andrew Matthews: Here’s a good book for someone who is generally happy, but has fallen into a rut. Matthews deals with everything from self-image to risk-taking and drawing inspiration from children and nature. Bottom line: Happiness and a high quality of life are yours to achieve.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie: Big-time problems often lead to big-time emotions: depression, anxiety and fear, for example. Author Byron Katie went through the same downward spiral, and it ended up giving her the tools she needed to solve any problem in her future. In this book, she provides four questions to ask yourself the next time you face a tough problem at work or in your personal life — they just might change the way you feel about what’s plaguing you.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: Sometimes, what’s holding you back is you. Don Miguel Ruiz helps you to believe in yourself, which will make you happier, less stressed and more free.
Which books will you read? Let us know in the comments section below! And while you’re here, be sure to subscribe to the PC newsletter for more book recommendations and advice to fuel your happiness!