My Happiness Reading List

Recently, someone told me that I have read enough books on happiness that I can make a course on it. I never realized that, so now I’m trying to figure out how to do that. While I am doing that, here’s my reading list:

  • The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
    • Gretchen Rubin is not depressed but she realized that she can still benefit from a happiness project. She discusses a series of things she did and whether or not it made her happy.
    • Embarking on a happiness project does not make one selfish.
    • Happy people affect society in a positive manner
    • “Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens.”
    • “Happy people generally are more forgiving, helpful, charitable people, while unhappy people are more often withdrawn, defensive, antagonistic, and self-absorbed. Oscar Wilde observed, ‘One is not always happy when one is good; but one is always good when one is happy.’”
    • “Happier people also make more effective leaders. They perform better on managerial tasks such as leadership and mastery of information. They’re viewed as more assertive and self-confident than less happy people. They’re perceived to be more friendly, warmer, and even more physically attractive.”
    • “Other people cultivate unhappiness as a way to control others. They cling to unhappiness because without it they’d forgo the special consideration that unhappiness secures: the claim to pity and attention.” Ex: A mother who did not pursue her Ph.D in order to care for her kids. She made her family feel guilty about this all the time.
    • Being happy actually takes effort.
  • How to be happy by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl—author is a psychologist who survived a Natzi concentration camp, he discusses a psychological theory that helped him survive
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron—happiness and expressing oneself
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg—happiness and silencing the inner critic
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg—happiness and cultivating good habits
  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszenthimalyi—happiness is political
  • Understanding Fear in Ourselves and Others by Bonaro W. Overstreet—being caged by fear makes us unhappy and we can’t do the brave thing for society

Happiness and minimalism/ productivity/ work:

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo—happiness and space, the reason why we have clutter is we have excessive amounts of things we own. Throw out the things that don’t spark joy so you will only be left with possessions that truly make you happy. Tidying up is a way for you to get to know yourself and to toss out things that aren’t part of who you are.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown—Don’t major in minor activities, if we can focus on the most important things then we will become happier
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey—the four quadrants method, you should focus on important but not urgent tasks as opposed to urgent but unimportant tasks
  • Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg—happiness and productivity
  • The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris—happiness through mini-retirements and streamlined work
  • Thrive by Arianna Huffington—changing the definition of success to mean holistic well-being
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport—you can only be happy at your job if you stay and master it, the pitfalls of leaving a job because you’re unhappy, the pitfalls of pursuing your passion

Happiness and relationships:

  • Here’s How to Tell If Someone Is a Toxic Person in the First 5 Minutes By Minda Zetlin, Inc. com

Happiness and money/economic equality:

  • The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin—you can’t buy happiness, but you can make certain purchases to boost your happiness
  • Forgot where I read it: Above this income level, happiness no longer increases. Below this income level, an increase of income will be very helpful to uplift the quality of life
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin—having a happy society at the expense of one miserable person—is it worth it? Is that true happiness? What can we do: walk away, find another society, build another world
  • Bhutan: The pursuit of happiness, Economist Magazine–Economic concept: Gross National Happiness vs Gross Domestic Product

Happiness, bravery, society:

  • The point of becoming happy is to become secure enough to be brave and contribute to radical social change.
  • Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud
    • In the book, Cloud talks about a CEO who had a problem. Everything was done to market the product and more, yet the product was not moving. So the CEO realized that this could only mean one thing: the price was too high. He told his team to cut the price. They disagreed with him because they they were afraid that they might not hit the target earnings if they cut the price. The CEO realized though that if they stick with the current price, they’ll have zero earnings, which was even worse than not hitting the income targets. He then ordered the price cut to be implemented, and lo and behold, the products started selling.
    • Cloud said that this CEO’s strong characteristic was being able to let go of previously desired results. The CEO agreed and said this is important because making the right move can sometimes pose a danger to certain favorable results. Yet we must not shrink at that threat, we must still stand firm with our principles and do the right thing. Paradoxically, doing that allows good things to happen. The CEO summarizes this as “You do the right thing, make the best choice, and ‘let the chips fall where they may.’”
    • Cloud further reflects on this saying, “He could walk at any time if the conditions were not right. That is power, the power to not do something destructive because you are so free from needing any outcome…You have to be able to face losing some things you might want in order to be free to do the right things. If you can’t you are stuck…You have to be able to let go of the very thing, sometimes the very person that the right choice may cause you to lose…You can’t do the prudent thing if you cannot stand for it all to fall apart…You have to give something up or be willing to lose something in order to gain it.”
  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson—the unhappy can build institutions to attack and destroy psychology and its attempts to bring mental stability in society
  • Gilette ad on how men can be better—toxic masculinity makes men and women sad

Pitfalls of happiness:

  • Photo: toxic positivity
  • Pixar movie Inside Out—sadness is needed for happiness

Telling stories:

  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

Class activities/ group works:

  • Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and Practices to Motivate Any Team by Appelo Jurgen
  • Group work: creative protest project: to change the narrative
    • Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic
    • Topple Dictators with a Laugh: A Lecture on Laughtivism by me based on Srdja Popovic
    • Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution assembled by Andrew Boyd

More on Happiness:

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