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10 Books on Happiness & Success for Your Reading List

20100427-peaceful-woman-reading-300x205Being an entrepreneur is stressful work. You pour blood, sweat, and tears into making your business work. Even though it can test you down to your last nerve, there’s nothing more rewarding than starting your own company.

While it can be challenging to successfully balance your workload plus family, friends, fitness and some personal time, there are few things that rings true for most successful entrepreneurs. It’s their unwavering commitment to continuous self-improvement in all areas of their life from their business prowess to their personal relationships.

As an entrepreneur, you hit emotional obstacles daily, including butting up against self-doubt, rejection, perfectionism, and even loneliness. The truth is, these obstacles can be powerful opportunities for reflection and self-growth to help you become a better founder and leader. Cultivating happiness, therefore, is not only crucial for your mental health, but also essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

Take some downtime and pick up one of the following books for some practical, actionable guidance on enhancing your happiness, productivity, and success.

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book is a must-read for those who feel like they’ve lost sight of what is really important in life and want to recommit themselves to living in the moment in practical ways. Determined to zap the simmering feeling of “ehh”-ness from her life, Rubin delves into numerous theories about what makes us happy and maps out resolutions to improve her life over the course of 12 months. Her conclusions are ones that are sure to make you stop and think about how you could be happier in your own life, and she offers practical guidance for getting there.

2. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

James Altucher’s book is all about not waiting on someone to save you. As most entrepreneurs know, there’s no longer total job security or people waiting to hire you if you lose your job. Rather you have to build your own platform and define success on your own terms. Choose Yourself is about getting out there and making a name for yourself in the world outside of traditional conventions and means.

Altucher weaves his often tragic and intense personal experiences (including going bankrupt and facing depression) into the book and shares offbeat advice on how to rebound from rejection, improve after failure, and create daily practices that nourish your mental, physical, and emotional self.

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Being an entrepreneur today can feel like a never-ending race, especially when you’re trying to create a better product, get more users, etc. Yet, beneath that hustle can lurk a feeling of unworthiness that you’ll never measure up or make it. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Sociologist Brene Brown (known for her TED Talk on shame), details specific guideposts, or lessons, on learning to accept and leverage vulnerability in order live happier and be more successful.

Brown focuses on helping people to believe that what they are now, is enough. We will never be the cookie-cutter image of society and we shouldn’t want to be. Being vulnerable and weak, at times, is what makes us human and The Gifts of Imperfection tells us that we should embrace that. Letting our true selves shine through can be our competitive advantage.

4. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferazzi

On the surface, Keith Ferazzi’s book Never Eat Alone may seem like it’s all about how to improve your networking skills. Not only can building a web of relationships lead to success, but as Ferazzi tells us, these types of relationships can help you when you most need it and allow you experience what true generosity and friendships are like.

While the book covers fantastic techniques for up leveling your connection building that goes far beyond generic networking advice, Ferrazzi actually reveals core practices for improving your interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, which will help you create stronger bonds in both your personal and professional relationships.

5. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Everyone has bad habits. The question is, how do you change behavior that has become such a natural (and automatic) part of your life? Charles Duhigg explains the awesomely intriguing science behind habit formation as well as how to change bad habits into positive ones. With real-life examples, Duhigg explains how the smallest changes can have a huge impact on how we run our lives and how successful we are in doing so. Bonus: there’s also marketing implications to be gleaned from understanding how people’s habits affect buying behavior.

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

If you feel like you’re always worrying about the next task on your list and trying to micromanage every detail of your life, this book by Richard Carlson is for you. Carlson tells you how to stop worrying about things that in the long-term won’t matter and how to stop stressing out about the small details.

7. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This groundbreaking book, now a positive psychology classic, explains how during our happiest times we enter a state of what he calls flow, which is when we experience the greatest enjoyment and creativity in life. Csikszentmihalyi looks at what “optimal experiences” take us to a state of flow and paints a picture for how you can create opportunities to experience more joy, creativity, and productivity in your daily work.

8. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Every person has the same 24 hours in a day, so why do some entrepreneurs excel in productivity while others fall victim to procrastination and lost momentum? The authors, Loehr and Schwartz, spent years studying world-class, competitive athletes to understand the underpinnings of superior performance and discover the key lies in managing your energy, not time. The key to success and high performance, they say, all has to do with managing your energy efficiently.

9. Give and Take by Adam Grant

What drives success? To Adam Grant, it doesn’t have to do with your own actions, passion, and hard work but rather, has to do with how we interact with others. Give and Take is a look at how helping and giving to others can motivate people to be more productive and ultimately, leave them feeling happier and more satisfied with their work.

10. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman’s book explains how the greatest leaders and entrepreneurs in the world that dropped out of school and failed tests became who they are. He explains that it is emotional intelligence (understanding your emotions and those of others), not your IQ, that has the biggest impact on your professional trajectory.

10 Books on Happiness & Success for Your Reading List

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Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding, LMSW is a performance coach, licensed social worker, and has a Masters from Columbia. She helps established and rising managers and executives advance in their careers. Her clients work at companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, HP, and Deloitte. She also helps entrepreneurs take bold steps to grow their businesses. Melody has helped over 10,000 smart, self-aware people like you. Her coaching gives you actionable strategies to reach your goals. You get concrete steps to overcome the complex struggles of success. Melody loves arming ambitious people with tools and tactics to boost their confidence. She can teach you skills for assertiveness and influence. Her specialties include better managing your emotions at work. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at CUNY Hunter College in NYC. She writes about psychology and careers for Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, and more. Click here and grab the FREE COURSE to go from insecure to unstoppable confidence 5 DAYS TO FREEDOM FROM SELF-DOUBT..

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APA Reference
Wilding, M. (2018). 10 Books on Happiness & Success for Your Reading List. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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