In an earlier post, I listed some great positive thinking books that can improve your quality of life. However, I realize that many scientifically-minded people prefer reading evidence-based books with empirical facts, and that’s perfectly fine.
If that’s you, this list of books on positive psychology might be just what you need to strengthen your arsenal of positive practices and enhance your overall well-being.
I’ll get into the curated list in a bit, but first, here’s a quick look at positive psychology and its benefits.
The Science and Benefits of Positive Psychology
What makes life worth living? What mental states promote happiness and well-being in humans? What strengths and virtues can help humans live optimally? These and more are what positive psychology focuses on.
The scientific field of study shares similar principles with positive thinking, but it goes a step further to emphasize research-based theories, strategies, and interventions that can help you improve the quality of your life.
And just in case you want to know the specific benefits of this concept ― and why you should even bother reading books on positive psychology ― here are a few:
- Applying positive psychology techniques can increase your resilience, allowing you to adapt, cope, and find ways around seeming failures and setbacks.
- Positive psychology strategies can help you develop an attitude of gratitude and make uplifting activities a part of your life. This boosts your mental health, leaving you a lot happier, regardless of daily stress.
- Interventions in positive psychology increase your chances of getting better in various areas like work, education, and sports. That’s because the approaches help you focus on meaningful goals and leverage your strengths to perform better.
- The field of study focuses on improving interpersonal skills, such as compassion, empathy, and active listening. This leads to better communication and stronger and more positive relationships.
Check out this post to learn practical ways to bring these benefits into your life.
Top 10 Books on Positive Psychology
1. Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness
Positive Psychology in a Nutshell is a must-read for anyone looking to get a concise overview of what positive psychology is about. Dr. Ilona Boniwell, one of Europe’s leading figures in the field of positive psychology, gives an excellent descriptive introduction to this field of study.
Besides being an easy read, the book provides actionable steps anyone can apply in their daily life to bring about positive changes.
Rather than theories and philosophies, the book teaches how to practice mindfulness, alter the mindset, and increase resilience, among several other important positive life-changing strategies.
I recommend this book if you’re new to positive psychology or want a more practical approach to learning the basics of this discipline.
2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Want to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset? Grab a copy of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Written by world-renowned psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck, this is one of the best books on positive psychology when it comes to the concept of developing a growth mindset. The book offers research-based insights that show how viewing your abilities and talents in a different light ― from a growth mindset standpoint ― can dramatically spur success in nearly every area of your endeavor.
You’ll want to read this book if you are an educator, coach, leader, or parent. It is also a great addition to your arsenal if you’re seeking personal growth.
3. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
Shawn Achor challenges the commonly held belief that success comes before happiness in this fascinating bestseller. According to The Happiness Advantage, happiness precedes and fuels success, a conclusion backed by extensive research.
Using seven key principles drawn from positive psychology (such as the Ripple Effect, Social Investment, and the Tetris Effect), the author shows readers exactly how to leverage happiness and create success in career and other aspects.
Consider reading and applying the principles in this book if you’re looking to bring more authentic happiness into your life.
4. The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want
Contentment can be a tricky subject in a world focused on materialism, and that’s where Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, The How of Happiness, comes in handy.
Drawing on years of research and real-life examples, this book explores what happiness truly is (and what it’s not) and presents practical exercises, quizzes, and strategies to help readers take charge of creating their own happiness.
If you’re looking for a hands-on approach to increase your happiness from within rather than from external sources, Lyubomirsky’s contribution to the field of positive psychology is a great place to start.
5. Man’s Search for Meaning
If you’re feeling somewhat lost due to extreme hardship, this book can inspire you to dig deep and find your life’s purpose, regardless of the obstacles you face.
Authored by Viktor E. Frankl and first published nearly eight decades ago, Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the most inspiring books on positive psychology. And its salient message still rings true today.
Frankl delivers important life lessons by sharing a thought-provoking account of his suffering as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps. In this book, you’ll discover a form of psychotherapy the author calls logotherapy. It will help you search and pursue what’s meaningful to you.
6. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
I recommend this positive psychology book if you have trouble staying on track with your daily tasks or simply want to improve your ability to concentrate.
Flow by Dr. Csikszentmihalyi will teach you how to get into the flow state ― a state of being that unlocks creativity and peak performance ― using it to find true happiness and create a meaningful life.
Of course, anyone can achieve a flow state once in a while, even without reading this book. However, Csikszentmihalyi’s approach shows you exactly how to deliberately get into the flow state rather than leaving it to chance.
7. The Strengths-Based Workbook for Stress Relief: A Character Strengths Approach to Finding Calm in the Chaos of Daily Life
Ryan M. Niemiec provides an evidence-based guide to stress reduction in this workbook. The book’s central premise is that you can leverage your strengths to not only cope with stress but increase overall happiness.
Like other books on this list, this one offers effective tips to help readers identify key character strengths and use them to manage stress and cultivate greater happiness.
Ryan guides readers through a number of exercises and activities to develop a better understanding of stress and its sources, as well as how to increase their resilience.
You’ll want to grab a copy of this book if you desire hands-on strategies from positive psychology to cope with everyday stress.
8. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
Here’s another excellent introduction to positive psychology concepts specifically aimed at helping readers discover their strengths, increase happiness, and improve their well-being.
Written by Martin Seligman, the “father of psychology,” Authentic Happiness is a must-read for anyone looking to live a more authentic and fulfilling life. It cuts out theoretical philosophies of traditional psychology and delivers experiential activities, allowing readers to actively learn and participate through firsthand experiences.
Drawing from scientific research, this book presents practical exercises designed to increase life satisfaction using tools like optimism and gratitude.
With this book, Seligman helps you discover your highest virtues and shows you how to use them to create real, lasting happiness.
9. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Whether you’re familiar with positive psychology or new to its concepts, Dr. Kristin Neff’s book on Self-Compassion can teach you evidence-based methods to break free from self-critical thoughts and feelings of insecurity.
The book explores the core elements of self-compassion and explains how being kind to yourself can help you cope with challenges.
Like many of the books in this list, you will find ample exercises and action plans to tackle everyday obstacles in the most healthy and emotionally-uplifting manner.
10. Average to A+: Realizing Strengths in Yourself and Others
From Alex Linley, founder of the Center for Applied Positive Psychology in the UK, comes one of the best books on positive psychology as far as human strength realization is concerned.
If you’re tired of being average, Average to A+ will help you discover and maximize your strengths and learn how to identify strengths in other people.
The book teaches readers how to make the biggest difference in their lives by maximizing their strengths. By reading this book, you will discover the many possibilities within you and your control.