The freedom to seek out exceptional health is a gift of our time. A myriad of experts – doctors, nutritionists, neuroscientists, psychologists – are jointly asking not just, “How can we treat or prevent illness?” but also, “What might a picture of optimal well-being look like? And how can we achieve it?”
The books and blogs listed here represent some of the most important work that has arisen out of that question.
I intend for this page to be organic, growing as important books come along. So do check back. Enjoy our selection of the best wellbeing books and blogs in 2015….
Books to Read
The focus here is on mental, and mind-body, wellness as opposed to purely physical.
The Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
“The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences—and in particular, to take them in so they become a permanent part of you.”
The Buddha’s Brain is my favourite book about the confluence of neuroscience and ancient wisdom. Compacted into two hundred and fifty pages is an explanation of the neurological mechanism suffering and a set of Buddhist-rooted techniques for achieving happiness. Rick Hanson skilfully balances scientific understanding with a respect for spiritual ideas and practices. Even if you’re not a Buddhist or drawn to Buddhism, you’ll still be able to savour the meat of this book.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
“If you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.”
This well-recognised book by Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert is an interesting and genuinely original read. We often bring a bias to books on the topics of happiness – we’ve read that much clichéd content (usually online) that we think we’ve heard it all before. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ve encountered the insights contained in Stumbling on Happiness. He dedicates a lot of time to examining imagination and it’s role in our unhappiness.
The Good Life by Graham Music
I think we can reframe the idea of an innate battle within the human soul between good and bad, selfishness and selflessness, by looking hard at what factors tilt any person, or indeed any organisation or society, in one or other direction.
Graham Music’s beautifully-written book is subtitled: “Wellbeing and the new science of altruism, selfishness and immorality.” He roots his ideas in both a breadth of scientific research (he is a clinical psychologist by trade) and a succinct understanding of how a hyper-competitive, consumerist narrative can often be detrimental to our health. He goes on to explore how real wellbeing rests on a foundation of kindness and openness to change. Erudite, provocative and endearing in equal measure, The Good Life comes highly recommended.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Habits are like financial capital – forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.
Another book about the psychology of happiness. A Harvard course on positive psychology that Shawn taught inspired The Happiness Advantage. At its heart is the premise that success and happiness aren’t necessarily achieved in that order – rather, it is often (he makes it clear that you can be entirely successful and miserable at the same time) the case that happiness that precedes success. Whilst that might just seem like a repeating of the commonplace, “Just do what you love,” it’s a principle based on concrete links to productivity, job satisfaction and our social relationships.
A Healthier, Happier You: The Welldoing How-To Guide
Choosing to pay attention to negative feelings will keep you in touch with yourself and make you whole again. From a place of wholeness you can move toward the self-actualisation your heart longs for.
A multitude of psychologists and writers come together to offer their thoughts on mind-body health. The result is insightful and practical; scientifically-based, whilst also drawing on philosophy and personal experience. At forty-eight pages long, it’s a quick, enjoyable read.
Blogs to Read
The Science of Health, Happiness and Social Connection by Emma Seppala: Pretty lofty topics. But if there’s anyone qualified to talk about them it’s this Stanford-University-based researcher. Her own research into loving-kindness meditation is particularly interesting.
The Third Metric at Huffington Post: A testament to the growing interest in measures of success beyond wealth, power and money. The Third Metric hosts some of the top wellbeing and happiness experts, and is easily worth a morning skim-through.