Recommended Reads for Professional Women – 3 Top Books on Happiness

One of the best aspects about being an avid reader is discussing books and sharing recommendations with like-minded friends. I’m a huge fan of great fiction, as you might be able to tell from my Fiction for Female Breadwinners pages. However, to stay current and inspired in my own field I keep up with the best of non-fiction as well.  If you are looking for a Christmas present for a professional woman here are 3 book suggestions on achieving that all-too elusive goal of busy people everywhere – true happiness.

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.  This is deservedly a best-seller within the positive psychology movement.  I particularly appreciate the author’s definition of happiness as raising the bar for yourself, not on rating yourself against others.  With a western focus on consumerism and comparison, remembering to focus on  your signature strengths is vital.  When I first started my business, for example, I’d constantly compare myself with what others around me were doing – which of course left me feeling lacking. As I have grown in confidence in my professional path, and distanced myself from those types of interactions, I have become more successful and felt happier on the journey – which really is what any of us want in the end, right?

The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer.   This is probably the most spiritual of the books I will recommend, but my dog-eared copy is evidence of how much it resonated with me.The book essentially is a guide for feeling more aligned with your life purpose and using positive intention in your daily interactions.  This guide encourages you to let go of the negative assumptions and feelings we have about ourselves and others. Those assumptions and distractions are obstacles to our success and reaching our full potential.  I found the book hugely useful when starting my business and I’d recommend it for any challenges you may face.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy – more money, more shoes, more sex, are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book. He was inspired by evidence that paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy even just a few months after their life change.  We overestimate how much happier we will be when we achieve ‘success’ and overestimate how unhappy we will be if faced with a negative situation. We become happiest when we are limited in our choices. For example, if a man you dated was cheap you’d perhaps think twice about dating him again. If however, you husband became parsimonious in his spending – you’d probably accept or even admire his frugality. The lack of choice (because you are already married to him!) means we are conditioned to become happier with a foible that would irritate us in a more flexible situation from which we could escape. A great follow-on read is The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz

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