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The 50 Greatest Self-Help Books

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Positive Psychology
Self Help Books

Since my graduate school days I have wrestled with the way in which the field of Psychology has focused on the negative aspects of the person: illness, pathology, deficit, delay. Continue reading article on Positive Psychology»

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These interesting self help books apply insights of the new Positive Psycholgy to improving functioning and quality of life.

See also: Self Esteem and Self Confidence; Resilience

Best Self Help Books on Positive Psychology

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman"These are the self help books on Positive Psychology I recommend most frequently."
David Yarian, Ph.D.






More Recommended Self Help Books on Positive Psychology

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin SeligmanAuthentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
Martin Seligman

Seligman states that trying to fix weaknesses doesn’t help; rather, incorporating strengths such as humor, originality and generosity into everyday interactions with people is a better way to achieve happiness. This self help book provides practical tools including self-tests and exercises for the conscious pursuit of happiness. 2004, Free Press


Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rich HansonBuddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
Rick Hanson

Neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Hanson suggests that an understanding of the brain in conjunction with 2,500-year-old Buddhist teachings can help readers achieve more happiness. He explains how the brain evolved to keep humans safe from external threats; the resulting built-in negativity bias creates suffering in modern individuals. Hanson argues that the brain's functioning can be affected by simple practices and meditation to foster well-being. Classic Buddhist concepts such as the three trainings—mindfulness, virtuous action and wisdom—frame Hanson's approach. This self help book includes descriptions and diagrams of brain functioning. Clear instructions guide the reader toward more positive thoughts and feelings. 2009, New Harbinger


Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has researched the connection between satisfaction and daily activities for many years. A state of “flow” occurs when one is engaged in self-controlled, goal-related and meaningful actions. This self help book is an intriguing look at the age-old problem of the pursuit of happiness and how, through conscious effort, we may more easily attain it. 2008, Harper Perennial Modern ClassicsA 50 Greatest Self Help Book




Grow Up!: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You a Happy Adult by Frank PittmanGrow Up!: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You a Happy Adult
Frank Pittman

In this witty yet profound self help book, Dr. Pittman discusses the complexities of marriage, divorce, child-rearing and forgiving your parents. He emphasizes that the true essence of happiness stems from personal honor and integrity and argues that changing gender roles and society's emphasis on narcissism and blaming others for our predicament keep us from fully inhabiting our adulthood. 1999, St. Martin's Press


Infinite PossibilitiesInfinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams (CD)
Mike Dooley

This audio series is filled with encouragement – to think and dream larger, to grow into the belief that dreams can be actualized. Not a “motivational” series, but a playful and philosophical approach to life which affirms that abundance, health and harmony are your birthright. Dooley addresses beliefs which nurture success and happiness, your emotions and how to understand them, and includes many tools and techniques for the art of living your dreams. 2009, Simon & Schuster Audio


Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin SeligmanLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Martin Seligman

Seligman says that pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time and undermine everything. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge. In this self help book, he teaches the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism which will enable you to take charge, resist depression, feel better and accomplish more. 2006, Vintage

A 50 Greatest Self Help Book

 


Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life by Schlitz, Vieten, AmorokLiving Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life
Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok

Living Deeply focuses on common elements of transformation across a variety of religious, spiritual, scientific, academic, and cultural traditions, while affirming and supporting the diversity of each approach. Opportunities to actively engage in your own transformation and that of our world are woven into the fabric of your everyday life. Learning more about the terrain of consciousness transformation can not only give you a map, but can help you become the cartographer of your own transformative journey. Weaving together cutting-edge science with wisdom from teachers of the world's transformative traditions this self help book explores how people experience deep shifts in their consciousness, and how those shifts can lead to healing and wholeness. 2008, Noetic Book / New Harbinger Publications


Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel SiegelMindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
Daniel J. Siegel

Drawing on cutting-edge neurobiological research and Eastern meditation practices Dr. Siegel presents a convincing case that mindsight’s dual focus on mindfulness and empathy can literally rewire the brain and catalyze greater personal fulfillment. In 12 lucid yet scientifically grounded chapters, he provides the evidence for mindsight’s powerful effect on human behavior and then presents a self help guidebook for developing and applying mindsight in one’s life. 2010, Bantam


The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children From Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience by Martin SeligmanThe Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children From Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience
Martin Seligman

According to noted psychologist Seligman, thirty percent of American children suffer from depression. His studies demonstrate that pessimistic children are at much higher risk for becoming depressed than optimistic children. His purpose in this book is to teach parents how to instill in their children a sense of optimism and personal mastery. He proposes that self esteem comes from mastering challenges, overcoming frustration, and experiencing individual achievement. This self help book offers a concrete plan of action based on techniques of self-evaluation and social interaction. 1996, Perennial

Pick of the Month Self Help BookThis book was a Pick of the Month Self Help Book! Read David's full Book Review.

 


Positive Energy by Judith OrloffPositive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love
Judith Orloff

Dr. Orloff provides 10 detailed prescriptions for harnessing one's "positive energy" to replace fatigue with physical and emotional vigor. Her commonsense program includes pursuing an individual spiritual path, developing "true-to-self eroticism," designing an energy-building diet and exercise plan, learning to celebrate laughter and protecting oneself from "energy vampires." Along with practice exercises for following these prescriptions, each section ends with a public figure describing the ways that he or she uses Orloff's methods. her revivification techniques in thoughtful, accessible prose that some may find an energy builder in itself. 2005, Three Rivers Press


A Psychology of Human Strengths: Fundamental Questions and Future Directions for a Positive Psycholgy by Aspinwall and StaudingerA Psychology of Human Strengths: Fundamental Questions and Future Directions for a Positive Psychology
Lisa Aspinwall and Ursula Staudinger

The authors present twenty-three research-based essays focused on the understanding and cultivation of human strengths. This self help book addresses positive functioning across the lifespan, paying attention to both internal and environmental resources contributing to human strengths. 2002, American Psychological Association


The Resilience Factor by Shatte and ReivichThe Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles
Andrew Shatte and Karen Reivich

Shatte and Reivich see resilience as a habit of mind and promise you can boost your resilience by changing the way you think about adversity. They offer seven practical strategies for bouncing back. “The secret is accurate thinking, not positive thinking,” they explain. 2003, Three Rivers Press


The Science of Optimism and Hope: Research Essays in Honor of Martin Seligman by Jane Gillham, ed.The Science of Optimism and Hope: Research Essays in Honor of Martin Seligman
Jane Gillham, ed.

Contributed essays on different aspects of positive psychology focus on optimism and hope. Although a research publication, the language is clear and easily understood by the layperson. 2000, Templeton Foundation Press


What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better by Baker and StauthWhat Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better
Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth

Baker believes that people can teach themselves to be happy instead of remaining trapped in a vicious cycle of stress from work and family: “If you adopt management of your life as a primary goal, you’ll be able to participate in your own destiny. But if you squander your energy struggling for complete control, you’ll lose the reins of management and become just another leaf in the wind.” Case studies and practical tools are included. 2004, St. Martin's Griffin


Positive Psychology Self Help Resources