These resources for a happier self are a collection of miscellaneous websites, books, apps, and programs. We have personally found helpful and informative in our journey toward a happier self. We are avid readers, so the collection is more heavily geared toward books, though it does include other content.
Take a look at our reviews of these different resources for a happier self. If you try one out, let us know how you like it! Of course, we’re always open to new reading or app recommendations, so share if you have a great suggestion.
Electronic Resources for a Happier Self
The magazine has excellent articles, videos, quizzes, and podcast episodes to living more gratefully, mindfully, and joyfully. All the resources are of excellent quality, and you can subscribe to receive a newsletter too. (Who doesn’t want more happiness in their inbox?) The magazine content includes parenting as well as education or culture. In short, there’s something for everyone. Moreover, the quizzes provide personalized feedback that direct you to additional resources, including meditation practices.
As a way to improve my health and happiness and to better combat stressful situations, I started trying to meditate. I spent way too much time trying to find free meditation programs that meshed with me, and I just couldn’t. In fact, I spent more time trying to find a program than I did on meditation. So, I made the plunge and purchased the App. I haven’t looked back. The programs are consistently excellent. Better yet, I have several options as a user for which track or area to focus on in my meditations. I love the app, and I look forward to getting a little bit of headspace everyday. – Rachel
JessicaSmithTV has free workout programs on YouTube as well as professionally produced programs. Her latest (as of December 2017) is an 8-week program. We’re including JessicaSmithTV on our gratitude, mindfulness, and happiness resources because it can be a real challenge to find a workout program that helps support these attributes while also getting you sweaty and strong. She genuinely does both. She encourages you to accept and love your body, honor where it is any given day, to breathe, and to let things go. She’s positive and upbeat, and I can’t say enough good things about her workouts AND her positivity. – Rachel
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a program directed at reducing stress levels and associated pain levels for people who may be struggling to cope. I first read about the program in Mindful Work and decided to locate one to reap the benefits of the program. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any near me. Fortunately, I did find a self-directed online program that covers the same material and includes reflections, readings, and videos. It’s not an in-person class, but it is an excellent resource to reduce depression and anxiety and increase your equanimity.
Print Resources for a Happier Self
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House, 2012.
Duhigg begins by outlining what habits are and how they are formed. He then explains the formation of habits within the brain and discusses the how and why of changing habits. Then he delves into how corporations, like Starbucks and Target, use habits to inform and change their business practices. He even links habits to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I found the book insightful and a bit of a page turner, and I highly recommend it as a book on habits. – Rachel
Gelles, David. Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out. Mariner Books, 2016.
Gelles’ focus is on how companies can improve their workplace and employee well being by incorporating mindfulness programs. Nor is his focus entirely on meditation. For example, he discusses the health benefits that blue-collar workers received from participating in short focused stretch breaks on the job. He profiles different companies attempts to incorporate mindfulness into the workplace while interweaving research and results into his prose. If you’re struggling to be more mindful at work, as I certainly have been, this would be a good book to read. – Rachel
Hanson, Rick. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Harmony, 2016.
Hanson explains why our brains are geared toward negative thinking as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Hanson does incorporate a significant amount of research into his writing, but I found the book to still be accessible and practical for his discussion of how to hardwire your brain to focus on positive experiences. For a more thorough discussion of the book (short of reading it), check out my explanation of some of his comments on the research page. – Rachel
Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does. Penguin Books, 2014.
Lyubomirsky examines the myths of happiness and incorporates the research that more often than not debunks the myth. For example, she examines such myths as “I’ll be happy when I find the right job” or “I can’t be happy when my relationship has fallen apart.” Each chapter is focused on a specific myth. The themes are grouped under general parts that focus on broader themes, including Connections, Work and Money, and Looking Back. I enjoyed her work and found some of the research illuminating the myths to be thought provoking. The book content is a good introduction to the ideas of what can genuinely and truly make us (or not make us) happier in our lives. – Rachel
Puddicombe, Andy. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016.
I read this book as I was learning how to be more mindful and trying to better understand the benefits of meditation. For a book written by a Buddhist monk, I didn’t expect it to be so funny and relatable. Even better, Puddicombe is excellent at explaining how meditation works and how we get in the way of our own headspace. After reading this book, I finally understood how meditation was supposed to work. – Rachel
Rubin, Gretchen. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. Broadway Books, 2015.
I’m obviously a Gretchen Rubin aficionado. I very much enjoyed Better Than Before for its accessible, friendly, and sometimes hilarious discussions of what it means to cultivate habits. Given the discussion of the four tendencies in the book, it appears to be a cornerstone element of her newest release. It does provide some excellent insights into ways that people approach habit formation. Rubin still packs in the popular psychology elements and research while staying grounded in the day-to-day realities of trying to improve yourself. If you want a book heavier on the research, though, the Power of Habit is better. – Rachel
Rubin, Gretchen. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life. Harmony, 2013.
I did enjoy this book as each month had a different theme related to home and family. I didn’t find the book quite as thought provoking or life changing as I found the Happiness Project, but it’s still a fun and enjoyable read that offers some nice moments for reflection and action. If you only read one of Rubin’s Happiness books, though, I’d suggest the Happiness Project instead. If you have time to read two, read both! – Rachel
Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project: The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. Harper Paperbacks, 2015.
This was such an enjoyable book for me. I found her writing engaging and informative. I also just enjoyed reading about Rubin’s attempts to make her life better as she shared research rooted in positive psychology as support for her creative endeavors. She certainly inspired me to start my own happiness project, which—after a year in progress—has resulted in me being happier and even starting this blog. So, I certainly found the book inspiring. – Rachel