The best books about life satisfaction

159 authors have picked their favorite books about life satisfaction and why they recommend each book.

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An Ordinary Age

By Rainesford Stauffer,

Book cover of An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional

An Ordinary Age is an antidote. It is for twentysomethings everywhere who are sick and tired of being sick and tired that the lives they wake up to everyday don't match the ones they see on Instagram. It is a book for real twentysomethings, that is, ones who deserve to know that their lives and their efforts aren't just good enough: They are well and truly good.

Who am I?

Meg Jay, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist, and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, who specializes in adult development and in twentysomethings in particular. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and on NPR and BBC. Her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most watched of all time.


I wrote...

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

By Meg Jay,

Book cover of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

What is my book about?

The Defining Decade has changed the way millions of twentysomethings think about their twenties--and themselves. Revised and updated for a new generation, let it change how you think about you and yours. Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of clients and students, Dr. Jay weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to take the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.

Bravey

By Alexi Pappas,

Book cover of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer, Alexi Pappas’ wisdom and wit are beyond her age. This book will have you laughing, crying and cheering, sometimes all at once!


Who am I?

An internationally recognized endurance athlete and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He's run across Death Valley in 120-degree temperatures, and run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he's run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the world's toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.


I wrote...

A Runner's High: My Life in Motion

By Dean Karnazes,

Book cover of A Runner's High: My Life in Motion

What is my book about?

“Dean Karnazes’ writing wakes up the appetite to run long distances. In this book, Dean takes us on a lifelong journey of ultramarathons, through the ups and downs, the friendships and lonely moments, and the struggles and rewards of each race. Dean writes in a direct and intimate way that keeps us reading like he runs -- without stopping." - Kilian Jornet, World Champion Ultramarathoner

A Thousand Names for Joy

By Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell,

Book cover of A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

I come back to these short essays again and again. The author provides a very powerful way to look at ‘reality’ and question our assumptions about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and what we (or others) ‘should’ do.


Who am I?

Linda mentors individuals who are going through major life events to experience honorable closure and move into the future, unencumbered by the past. The best-selling author of Shunned – How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself  her work draws on contemporary neuroscience, wisdom traditions, social science, and her own life experience navigating ends large and small.


I wrote...

Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

By Linda A. Curtis,

Book cover of Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

What is my book about?

Linda Curtis was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and is an unquestioning true believer who has knocked on doors from the time she was nine years old. Like other Witnesses, she has been discouraged from pursuing a career, higher education, or even voting, and her friendships are limited to the Witness community.
Then one day, at age thirty-three, she knocks on a door--and a coworker she deeply respects answers the door. To their mutual consternation she launches into her usual spiel, but this time, for the first time ever, the message sounds hollow. In the months that follow, Curtis tries hard to overcome the doubts that spring from that doorstep encounter, knowing they could upend her "safe" existence. But ultimately, unable to reconcile her incredulity, she leaves her religion and divorces her Witness husband--a choice for which she is shunned by the entire community, including all members of her immediate family.

Shunned follows Linda as she steps into a world she was taught to fear and discovers what is possible when we stay true to our hearts, even when it means disappointing those we love.

Letters from a Stoic

By Lucius Seneca, Robin Campbell (translator),

Book cover of Letters from a Stoic

Seneca was one of the last of the ancient Stoics who lived during the time of Nero. Towards the end of his life, he wrote several letters to a young prefect, Lucilius. These letters were not just meant to be read by Lucilius but the generations to come as well. Seneca’s letters are well written and cover a wide range of topics as they relate to the art of living. These essays are a ‘how to’ guide to living.

Why this translation? Although there are 124 letters in all, modern translators tend to translate just a selection. Robin Campbell is no exception. I chose this translation because it is as good as any and it is not pricey.


Who am I?

I am the Editor of the free online magazine The Stoic and the author of some twenty books on Stoicism. My day job is President, Leger Analytics, and I am also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. I am not a professional philosopher. I study and write about Stoicism because it helps us to live better, free of fear, anxiety, worry, or anger.


I wrote...

Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

By Chuck Chakrapani,

Book cover of Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

What is my book about?

Most of us are outwardly free but not inwardly so. Anger, fear, worry, and anxiety entrap us. Is it possible to be completely and utterly free no matter what is happening to us now and what may happen in the future? Yes, said the ancient Stoics and gave us a blueprint for a happy life. Two thousand years later their blueprint still works the way they said it would.

Unshakable Freedom brings Stoicism to the digital age. Using contemporary, as well as historical, examples of people who used Stoicism to achieve personal freedom, this book offers a path to the good life, including 12 specific mental exercises you can do to achieve personal freedom.

Life on Purpose

By Victor J. Strecher,

Book cover of Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything

Stecher is a scientist who can also communicate ideas effectively. He does a tour of the literature on purpose and translates it into concepts of practical significance. The data suggests that you and I are designed by nature to be people of higher purpose. Until this happens, we are literally throwing our life away.


Who am I?

Robert Quinn is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Business. His research and writing focus on purpose, leadership, culture, and change. He has published 18 books on these subjects. He is passionate about speaking and teaching and his recent talk to Google on finding your purpose was viewed by over 18 million people.


I wrote...

Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

By Robert Quinn,

Book cover of Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

What is my book about?

Open this book at your own risk. It contains ideas that may lead to a profound self-awakening. An introspective journey for those in the trenches of today's modern organizations, Deep Change is a survival manual for finding our own internal leadership power. By helping us learn new ways of thinking and behaving, it shows how we can transform ourselves from victims to powerful agents of change. And for anyone who yearns to be an internally driven leader, to motivate the people around them, and return to a satisfying work life, Deep Change holds the key.

Who am I?

Ben Aldridge writes about practical philosophy, comfort zones, mental health, and adventure. His first book How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong Resilient Mindset is an exploration of unique ways to leave our comfort zones, face our fears and overcome our anxieties. Heavily influenced by Stoicism, Buddhism, Popular Psychology, and CBT, Ben's challenges encourage us to get uncomfortable and experience the personal growth that we can only gain from pushing ourselves to the limit.


I wrote...

How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong, Resilient Mindset

By Ben Aldridge,

Book cover of How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong, Resilient Mindset

What is my book about?

After debilitating anxiety and panic attacks began to impact his daily life, Ben Aldridge decided to tackle his mental health issues in a creative way. His journey led him on a year of completing weird and wonderful challenges in the name of self-improvement. By deliberately leaving his comfort zone and enduring difficulties, Ben completely changed his life.

A Field Guide to a Happy Life

By Massimo Pigliucci,

Book cover of A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living

A Field Guide to a Happy Life is an outstanding example of what a modern Stoic book can and should be. Pigliucci has taken the famous Handbook (Enchiridion) of the Roman Stoic teacher, Epictetus, and reworked it to reflect a more modern approach to the philosophy. As such, this field guide is a portable, practical guide to applying Stoic wisdom in your day to day life.

What I most appreciate about A Field Guide to a Happy Life is that the author’s update of the philosophy is clearly described in a later section of the book. This allows the reader to compare and contrast the ancient with the modern. What does it mean to adopt and adapt a two thousand year old philosophy? This unique book is both a practical philosophical guide, and a jumping off point to deeper study.


Who am I?

Matthew J. Van Natta is an author and podcaster who has been guiding people to Stoicism for over a decade. His focus is on the daily application of Stoic philosophy within the modern world. He writes fiction, drinks coffee, beer, and whiskey, and contemplates the human condition. His writings have been featured on SpiritualNaturalistSociety.org and Modern Stoicism.


I wrote...

The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

By Matthew Van Natta,

Book cover of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

What is my book about?

Being a stoic means embracing positivity and self-control through the ability to accept the uncertainty of outcomes. With this stoicism guide, the beginner stoic will learn how to take charge of their emotions on the path to sustained happiness and satisfaction.

This easy-to-navigate stoicism guide gives you the emotional tools needed to let go of the things you can't control and find joy in what you have. Through thought-provoking strategies and exercises, this book helps you find contentment so you can build closer relationships and become an active member of society.

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic is a book about living life as a creative. It’s a book about having the courage to create what you were made to create, to be all of the glorious you that God whispered into being when the world around you is trying to shape you into some other mold.

I’ve read this book several times and listened to it on audiobook. After living through my catch-playing year and writing about it, when my story forever got connected to the story of Dan Bryan and Ethan C. Bryan, I personally experienced Big Magic.

“Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

This world is desperate for creative revolutions that bring joy, wonder, hope, and love. This book reminds me to do just that.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, a storyteller, and a dreamer of absurdly ridiculous dreams. I’m an empath who feels big feelings and trusts my intuition as I make my way in this world. I know full well the power and importance of encouraging words, of being a friend, of looking for hope when nothing seems to be going your way. These are the books I turn to when my soul, the truest part of what makes me “me,” needs a reminder of why I write, why I tell stories, and what it means to be human. These are the books that dance across my synapses whenever I sit down to write and tell my own stories.


I wrote...

A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life

By Ethan D. Bryan,

Book cover of A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life

What is my book about?

Ethan D. Bryan played and wrote about baseball for years. Then his daughters challenged him to set out on a yearlong experiment: to play catch with someone every day. This whimsical experience led him across 10 states and 12,000 miles on a quest both quixotic and inspiring.

Taking you from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to the home of the Daytona Tortugas in Florida, from the Field of Dreams to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bryan played ball and swapped stories with public school teachers, journalists, musicians, entertainers, and athletes of every level. For baseball fans and everyone who loves a good story, A Year of Playing Catch is an inspiring journey about the sacredness of play and being fully present in the human experience.

The Soul of Money

By Lynne Twist,

Book cover of The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life

Written by an extremely smart smartypants, activist, and fundraiser, Lynne Twist shares her fascinating take on money as gleaned from her decades working with everyone from top CEOs to tribal people who don’t even know what money is.


Who am I?

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, success coach, and motivational cattle prod who’s helped countless people transform their personal and professional lives via her products, speaking engagements, newsletters, seminars and books. Her #1 New York Times bestseller, You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (2013), spent over 4 years on the NY Times bestseller list, has sold over 3 million copies, is available in over 35 languages, and continues to grow in popularity around the globe. Her follow-ups, You Are a Badass® at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth (2017), also a NY Times bestseller, You Are a Badass® Every Day (2018), and Badass Habits (2020) are written with the same signature sass, down-to-earth humor and blunt practicality that made You Are a Badass® an indomitable bestseller and Jen a celebrated voice in the world of self-development.


I wrote...

You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

By Jen Sincero,

Book cover of You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

What is my book about?

You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation--over just a few years--from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results.

Being Better

By Leonidas Konstantakos, Kai Whiting,

Book cover of Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In

Being Better is the best expression of the heart of Stoic philosophy that I have found in print. This is not a how-to book in the style of so many beginner’s manuals (including my own), but instead it is a meditation on the core principles of Stoicism. The authors challenge us to apply those principles in our own lives, so that we can join together in making the world a better place. Each chapter unveils a facet of the philosophy using the experiences of real people, both ancient and modern, as examples of how to apply Stoic thinking to hard problems such as the climate crisis, social justice issues, and economic excess. Being Better moves past simple life hacks to show us how Stoicism can function as a full philosophy of life.


Who am I?

Matthew J. Van Natta is an author and podcaster who has been guiding people to Stoicism for over a decade. His focus is on the daily application of Stoic philosophy within the modern world. He writes fiction, drinks coffee, beer, and whiskey, and contemplates the human condition. His writings have been featured on SpiritualNaturalistSociety.org and Modern Stoicism.


I wrote...

The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

By Matthew Van Natta,

Book cover of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

What is my book about?

Being a stoic means embracing positivity and self-control through the ability to accept the uncertainty of outcomes. With this stoicism guide, the beginner stoic will learn how to take charge of their emotions on the path to sustained happiness and satisfaction.

This easy-to-navigate stoicism guide gives you the emotional tools needed to let go of the things you can't control and find joy in what you have. Through thought-provoking strategies and exercises, this book helps you find contentment so you can build closer relationships and become an active member of society.

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