The most recommended positive psychology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to positive psychology, and here are their favorite positive psychology books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of positive psychology book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being

Michelle Waitzman Author Of Be as Happy as Your Dog: 16 Dog-Tested Ways to Be Happier Using Pawsitive Psychology

From Michelle's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Dog lover Plain language writer Kitchen queen Happy wanderer Curious mind

Michelle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Michelle Waitzman Why did Michelle love this book?

I did a deep dive into positive psychology when I was researching my own book, and Martin Seligman is the godfather in this field of research.

Flourish goes beyond his earlier work to look at total well-being (not only happiness) and how we can all live our best lives. This book is a bit more academic than some self-help readers might like, but I love hearing about the research that backs up the suggestions. Show me the proof! He does this and more, giving readers the opportunity to examine their own lives and how they could become more satisfying by adopting a different outlook and some new practices.

By Martin E. P. Seligman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flourish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness comes “a relentlessly optimistic guidebook on finding and securing individual happiness” (Kirkus Reviews).

With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman begins Flourish, his first book in ten years—and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different—it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition.

Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism,…


Book cover of Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection—Now and in an Uncertain Future

Anne Jacoby Author Of Born to Create: How Creativity Sparks Connection, Innovation, and Belonging in Our New World of Work

From my list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection.

Who am I?

I’m on a mission to cultivate creativity at work! After starting my career in the performing arts, I made a pivot to corporate life over 20 years ago and haven’t looked back. What I’ve discovered is how essential creativity is in any workplace, and how its impact on organizational culture is underrated. Effective leaders prioritize connection, creativity, and make culture a strategic priority. After learning from hundreds of artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, I wrote this book to highlight their stories—unpacking how they bring creativity to life in their work. My hope is readers leave with tools to spark more meaningful connection and creative work experiences.

Anne's book list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection

Anne Jacoby Why did Anne love this book?

I’m a longtime fan of the work BetterUp Labs has done in the research field of human performance, and this book, co-written by BetterUp’s Chief Innovation Officer Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, is a delightful collection of its insights.

With additional guidance from co-author Marty Seligman, commonly known as the father of positive psychology, Tomorrowmind offers an anthropological perspective on the evolution of our work experience and how our cultural expectations have shifted.

By shining a light on helpful case studies throughout, it demonstrates how we’ll need to change our individual mindsets and behaviors to operate effectively in the future of work. If you care about creativity and connection in your workplace, this will be an important addition for your bookshelf.

By Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, Martin E. P. Seligman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tomorrowmind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thrive in your career with this radical, future-proofed approach to work in a world where automation, globalization, and downsizing are an urgent and threatening reality—from experts in workplace mental health, Gabriella Kellerman, CPO of BetterUp, and world-renowned psychologist Martin Seligman.

In recent years, workplace toxicity, industry volatility, and technology-driven turnover have threatened the psychological well-being of employees. When we can’t flourish at work, both personal success and corporate productivity suffer. As we sit on the cusp of some of the most turbulent economic changes in history, many of us wonder how we can not only survive but flourish in our…


Book cover of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

Tony Endelman Author Of The Big Stick: Collected and Applied Wisdom from the Teachings of Dr. Robert Glover

From my list on men’s self-development books that don’t totally suck.

Who am I?

In 2013, my father–an amazing man who was the picture of health–died suddenly and unexpectedly while at the gym. At the time, I was miserable and unfulfilled. My father’s passing sent me down a path of deep self-exploration, where I realized that life is simply too short and unpredictable to settle for less than what you truly want. As I endeavored to change my life, I became a certified life coach, relationship coach, and happiness trainer, initially to help myself, but soon discovered a passion for helping others. I've been lucky to have incredible mentors like Dr. Robert Glover. My unconventional brand of self-help has been featured in numerous publications.

Tony's book list on men’s self-development books that don’t totally suck

Tony Endelman Why did Tony love this book?

Though not a traditional self-development book, this book made me think, made me laugh, and made me question the way I’d been going about life.

It is a fascinating and highly entertaining read that turns conventional self-help advice on its head. Among other things, it introduced me to an alternative “negative path” to happiness that requires us to embrace what we spend our lives trying to avoid.

In the book, Burkeman talks to experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, and modern-day gurus, and they all argue that our constant effort to be happy is exactly what’s making us all f*cking miserable.

The book's subtitle is Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, "kind of perfect for a guy like me." 

By Oliver Burkeman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Antidote as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Self-help books don't seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth—even if you can get it—doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can't even agree on what "happiness" means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way?

Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of…


Book cover of Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Randy Ross Author Of Fireproof Happiness: Extinguishing Anxiety & Igniting Hope

From my list on the best way to find happiness.

Who am I?

My entire career has revolved around helping people find more meaning and fulfillment in their life and work. It’s a fact that happy people are healthier, have better relationships, are more satisfied with life, and are more productive. But, happiness for most folks is elusive. Through my research, personal experience, and coaching and consulting practice, I have found that there is a distinct connection between hope and happiness. Fireproof Happiness is my attempt to show this connection and offer practical wisdom and sound advice to craft a brighter tomorrow, no matter what you may be facing today.

Randy's book list on the best way to find happiness

Randy Ross Why did Randy love this book?

Known as the father of the new science of Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman shows how optimism enhances quality of life. He refutes the idea that some people are simply born more optimistic and shares how anyone can adopt a more positive outlook on life. This book is filled with simple techniques to break depression, boost your immune system and make you happier.

Learned Optimism offers simple, straightforward solutions to help anyone embrace a healthier mindset as they face and embrace challenging times. Applying the content of this book, anyone can learn to view life through a different lens, changing their perspective and navigating life’s difficulties more effectively.

By Martin E. P. Seligman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Learned Optimism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The father of positive psychology draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to show you how to overcome depression, boost your immune system, and make yourself happier.

"Vaulted me out of my funk.... So, fellow moderate pessimists, go buy this book." —The New York Times Book Review

Offering many simple techniques anyone can practice, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I–give–up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue.

With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school,…


Book cover of From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want

O. E. Tearmann Author Of The Hands We're Given

From my list on a future worth living in.

Who am I?

I come from a reservation town in Wisconsin, and make my livelihood as a horticulturist in the water-strapped state of Colorado. I’m mix-race and LGBT. These influences have shaped what I look for in stories. I write and seek to read about communities in which the person creating medicine and the person growing food is just as important as the fighter, because let me tell you: if you don’t have the means to make food and heal wounds, all the guns in the world won’t save you. I particularly appreciate stories that explore ecology, agriculture, and plant science in innovative ways. These make my little horticulture-geek heart sing.

O. E.'s book list on a future worth living in

O. E. Tearmann Why did O. E. love this book?

Most nonfiction books on social issues begin—in fact, some go on for about half the book—on the theme of what’s so bad about the problem being addressed. Most authors want you good and scared before they start talking about the good stuff. This book doesn’t do that. It opens, in fact, with a short story set in The World That Turned Out Okay.

And then it backs it up with real-world examples. Transition Town Totnes. Transition Streets. All sorts of projects, from all around the world. And throughout the books, it asks the same question again and again: why is it so hard to imagine a better future? How can we work on that? And then it answers it. The book is a toolbox of research, ideas, and techniques at both the personal and community level. Narrated first-person by the author, reading it is like chatting with a very clever,…

By Rob Hopkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From What Is to What If as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Big ideas that just might save the world. the Guardian

A serious book on an important subject. Without imagination, where are we? Sir Quentin Blake

What if we took play seriously? What if we considered imagination vital to our health? What if we followed nature's lead? What if school nurtured young imaginations?

What if things turned out okay?

Rob Hopkins asks the most important question that society has somehow forgotten - What If? Hopkins explores what we must do to revive and replenish our collective imagination. If we can rekindle that precious creative spark, whole societies and cultures can change…


Book cover of Positivity

Robert Chesnut Author Of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution

From my list on growing an employee into a business leader.

Who am I?

Early in my career, I was a federal prosecutor and moved to California to get involved in tech as a midlife career change. I became passionate about leadership and personal development because I worked alongside some outstanding leaders at companies like eBay and Airbnb for over 20 years. If I could take away one lesson, it would be this: you become what you surround yourself with. Want to be happy? Read books about happiness, spend time around people who are happy, focus on the positive each day. Want to be a great leader? Talk to other great leaders, read books about leadership. These books have each, in their way, helped me on the journey.  

Robert's book list on growing an employee into a business leader

Robert Chesnut Why did Robert love this book?

Do you focus on the negative each day, or the positive? Dr. Frederickson looks at the science behind the ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts…what’s your ratio? And is there an ideal ratio that you should strive for, that can actually change your life? The answer is 2.9 to 1…and the choice is yours.  

By Barbara Fredrickson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Positivity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more vibrant, and flourishing life through a process she calls "the upward spiral."

You’ll discover:

•What positivity is, and why it needs to be heartfelt to be effective
• The ten sometimes surprising forms of positivity
• Why positivity is more important than happiness
• How positivity can enhance relationships, work, and health, and how it relieves depression, broadens minds, and builds lives
• The top-notch research that backs the 3-to-1 "positivity ratio" as a key tipping point
• That your own sources of…


Book cover of The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life

Vincent Doumeizel Author Of The Seaweed Revolution: How Seaweed Has Shaped Our Past and Can Save Our Future

From my list on the world is getting better and the best is yet to come.

Who am I?

As an optimistic citizen of the world, I travelled the globe to witness famine in Africa and seaweed farming in Asia. Having worked on food systems for twenty-five years and being the father of three children, I was looking for solutions to feed the coming generation with hopes instead of fears! That’s how I ended up working for a visionary charity (Lloyd’s Register Foundation) and leading a “Seaweed Revolution” for United Nations Global Compact as well as writing book to spread the gospel of neglected Ocean Based Solutions. The books I have recommended here all give hope through examples from the past and present and provide readers with practical toolkits for creating positive change.

Vincent's book list on the world is getting better and the best is yet to come

Vincent Doumeizel Why did Vincent love this book?

This is another book that can inspire you in your daily life and change your perspective. A call for happiness!

Despite what we believe, happiness breeds success, and not the other way around… quite an important distinction. This very well-researched book by a specialist from Harvard University also argues that our brain is flexible enough to change whatever our age, and that it is always possible to mitigate our negative perception of reality.

This leads to a more positive way of thinking that will create the conditions to achieve what we want and lead an exciting life! After reading this book, you’ll be able to make happiness contagious and promote the cause like an activist! A must-read for the next generation. 

By Shawn Achor,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Happiness Advantage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most people want to be successful in life. And of course, everyone wants to be happy. When it comes to the pursuit of success and happiness, most people assume the same formula: if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you'll be happy. The only problem is that a decade of cutting-edge research in the field of positive psychology has proven that this formula is backwards. Success does not beget happiness.

Based on the largest study ever conducted on happiness and human potential (a survey conducted by the author of more than 1,600 students),…


Book cover of Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Chase Mielke Author Of The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again

From my list on making teaching suck a little less.

Who am I?

I’m a veteran teacher, instructional coach, and speaker. I’ve dealt with the bull crap and beauty of education for a decade and a half. As such, I’m dedicated to helping educators find their love of this work, even amidst the struggles. I’m a columnist for Education Leadership and host of the Educator Happy Hour podcast. I travel all over the world to help teachers and school leaders learn the science of well-being so they can be at their best in order to give their best, even on full-moon, post-holiday, “WIFI crashed” days of student chaos.

Chase's book list on making teaching suck a little less

Chase Mielke Why did Chase love this book?

Another happiness book!? Okay, if a philosophical book on the “art” of happiness isn’t your cup of Tibetan tea, then how about the science of happiness? Dr. Martin Seligmann is considered the founder of positive psychology – a movement to understand not just what’s wrong with people but what’s right. 

Though Seligman has written a few books over the decades on the research of well-being, I think Authentic Happiness is the best introduction to the many studies helping us find more meaning, engagement, and joy. My favorite part is that Seligman seems like a “natural grouch” – like a guy who didn’t want to believe in positive psychology but couldn’t ignore the robust research showing that we can change our well-being. Reading this is like chatting with the gruff, 40-year-teaching-veteran who is chock full of stories, wisdom, and insights to look at and live life differently.

By Martin E. P. Seligman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Authentic Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A national bestseller, Authentic Happiness launched the revolutionary new science of Positive Psychology—and sparked a coast-to-coast debate on the nature of real happiness.

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Using practical exercises, brief tests, and a dynamic website program, Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered. Accessible and proven, Authentic Happiness is the…


Book cover of The Psychology of Gratitude

Patrick M. Garry Author Of The Power of Gratitude: Charting a Path Toward a Joyous and Faith-Filled Life

From my list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life.

Who am I?

I have published more than twenty books and hundreds of articles. But not one of those books and articles inspired the kind of devotion I felt toward The Power of Gratitude. In a way, this book encapsulates a lifetime of writing. It is the book I believe I was called to write.

Patrick's book list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life

Patrick M. Garry Why did Patrick love this book?

While we sometimes might think of gratitude as just a simple emotion or reaction, Emmons and McCullough show a much more complex side to gratitude. 

In this book, Emmons and McCullough explore the scientific and medical aspects of gratitude. The book helps the reader understand all the psychological and medical benefits produced by a life lived with gratitude.

By Robert A. Emmons (editor), Michael E. McCullough (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Psychology of Gratitude as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gratitude, like other positive emotions, has inspired many theological and philosophical writings, but it has inspired very little vigorous, empirical research. In an effort to remedy this oversight, this volume brings together prominent scientists from various disciplines to examine what has become known as the most-neglected emotion. The volume begins with the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of gratitude, then presents the current research
perspectives from social, personality, and developmental psychology, as well as from primatology, anthropology, and biology. The volume also includes a comprehensive, annotated bibliography of research on gratitude. This work contributes a great deal to the growing…


Book cover of What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better

Tom Salonek Author Of The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership

From my list on practical, hands-on business leadership.

Who am I?

I'm the Founder and CEO of Intertech, an IT firm I started over 30 years ago. I've written three books and more than 100 articles on business, leadership, and technology. Intertech has won over 50 awards for growth, workplace best practices, and employee engagement including being named one of the Best 30 Employers in Tech by Fortune Magazine and one of the Top 10 Consulting firms in America by Consulting Magazine.  

Tom's book list on practical, hands-on business leadership

Tom Salonek Why did Tom love this book?

Do you know of any effective leaders who are chronically unhappy? I don’t, which is why I’m rounding out my recommendations with a non-leadership book.

I give this book to anyone I’ve mentored over the years. This is a book I reread yearly. It clearly lays out what’s needed to have a fulfilling life and the qualities that all happy people have in common.

By Cameron Stauth, Dan Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Happy People Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to live a happy life--made so simple and doable that you believe it's actually achievable.

Dr. Dan Baker, director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, has devoted his life to teaching people how to be happy. And apparently, most of us could use a little tutoring. Research has shown that the root of unhappiness--fear--lies in the oldest, reptilian part of our brains, and negative reactions are often dictated by primal instincts. We're literally "hardwired for hard times." In What Happy People Know, Dr. Baker uses evidence from the new science of happiness to show us how we…