H is for (Books About) Happiness

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

As a generally happy person, I can tell you that people often think it’s easy. In some ways, it is. My brain is good at finding reasons to be happy.

But it’s also very difficult. When people are being relentlessly negative or willfully unhappy, it can be difficult not to snap at them, trying to find the right words to prove that they don’t have to be unhappy if they don’t want to. To an extent, they’re choosing unhappiness.

Happy people don’t necessarily have better lives; we just find all the awesome things in our life and focus on those. We figure out what brings us joy and try to do it more often. (Helpful hint: relentless TV watching brings almost no one actual joy. It feels good to zone out but doesn’t contribute to happiness unless it’s more about the social experience than the zoning out thing.) Happiness really does have to be something you choose, and if done right, will always look easy.

Here are a few good books on the topic.

Pollyanna, by Eleanor M. Porter (classic): Some people find this book cheesy, but I truly believe that this should be required reading for every human being on the planet and that they should have to read it every single year. When Pollyanna goes to live with her Aunt Polly (a grim, unhappy person who only takes Pollyanna in because of “duty”), she finds a way to make every negative situation into something to be grateful for. She plays “The Glad Game,” something her father taught her in order to find something good in every situation. I first read this as a kid, and I try to apply the principles to my own life.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson (comedy memoir): Jenny Lawson battles “crippling” anxiety and depression She decided that because she was going to have to live with her mental illness, and it was terrible, she would decide to be “furiously happy,” living her life on her own terms, as open and honest and uninhibited as possible. How amazing is that, turning a mental illness into something creative and meaningful? I listened to this on audiobook, and it made me laugh out loud at parts. I do not often actually laugh, so this was a big deal. If you have a sick and twisted sense of humor, this book is probably for you.

Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton (self-help): Money clearly doesn’t buy happiness, as evidenced by all the celebrities who seem like miserable, angry people. This book basically talks about how buying experiences rather than things can increase our happiness. There’s more to it than that, of course, but in a nutshell, in order to be happy, we need to do things we enjoy. If it sounds obvious, it kind of is, but a lot of people don’t do what makes them happy. It’s a worthwhile read with all sorts of interesting information about happiness and money. (Other than being thin, aren’t these the two things that most people want most?)

What are your favorite books about happiness? Or just books that make you happy?

9 comments on “H is for (Books About) Happiness

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    Of course I’ve seen the Disney movie but never read the book.

  2. J.Q. Rose says:

    What a coincidence. I just finished writing the blog post for S. My word is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Talk about making me happy. Just saying the word and singing the song from Mary Poppins brings me joy. I am also a person who tries to see the glass half full. Happy to meet you, Doree. I like being around positive people too.

    JQ Rose

  3. So many books make me happy but I realized none of them are about being happy but more about how they leave me after the struggles they’ve been through. Great topic and theme thanks for sharing this.

  4. Varad says:

    Furiously happy sounds like a book I’d read. Books that make me happy are the ones I read as a kid and bring back that nostalgia. I read a lot of Russian Fairy Tales as a kid and those along with Adventures of Tom Sawyer are my happy books.


  5. dyannedillon says:

    I’ve always called myself a Pollyanna, because I am sometimes ridiculously optimistic and always, always looking for the silver lining for any situation (my breast cancer, for example. My mother had read the book as a young girl and quoted it, but I have never read it, and I really, really should!

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