Hooked to books? These ‘happy reads’ are the best choice in the time of social distancing

The coronavirus pandemic is making us practise social distancing. If you're tired of swapping between Netflix and Prime Video, may we suggest this curated list of feel-good books on International Happiness Day?
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As the world rallies together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Day of Happiness - observed on March 20 - reminds us that staying optimistic, happy, and maintaining mental well-being is the need of the hour.

The very first International Happiness Day was observed on March 20 in the year 2013. The theme for 2020 is focusing on what we have in common instead of focusing on the things that divide us.

Remember the slew of memes on ‘Happiness is…?’ Well, it’s true for every individual. The word ‘happiness’ can have any meaning – some may find it in playing with a dog, taking a long nap, enjoying the rain, spending time in nature, drinking a cold glass of lassi on a summer day...the list goes on.

International Happiness Day is usually the day when the United Nations calls upon nations to approach public policies in ways that can improve the well-being of citizens. It is believed that to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well-being.

As we focus on social distancing this week to shut down coronavirus, YS Weekender has curated a list of ‘Happy Reads’ for you.

So, grab a cup of coffee, get cosy in your bed or sofa, and enjoy these books on motivation, happiness, and self-help.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project book was a year-long project, carried out by lawyer-turned-author, Gretchen Rubin.

On one rainy afternoon, while travelling in a bus, Gretchen had an epiphany she says. “The days are long, but the years are short. Time is passing, and I’m not focussing enough on the things that really matter,” she realised.

Gretchen decided to dedicate a year to happiness, and The Happiness Project was the result. Published in 2009 and having spent close to two years on the New York Times bestsellers list, the book chronicles Gretchen’s adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Photo Credits: Goodreads

During her journey, she made many discoveries – novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness. She discovered that money can help buy happiness when spent wisely, outer order contributes to inner calm, and the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

On her website, Gretchen says that her book has turned to a movement where people are creating groups to discuss their ‘Happiness project’ with each other, and many professors, psychiatrists, and clergy have recommended her book in various book clubs.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Authored by renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness describes the shortcomings of imagination and illusions of foresight that causes people to misconceive their future and misestimate their satisfactions.

Photo Credits: Goodreads

In his book Daniel brings to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioural economics, revealing the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about the capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there.

With powerful insights, the New York Times bestseller book explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.



10% Happier by Dan Harris

After experiencing a terrible panic attack on live television on Good Morning America, news anchor Dan Harris embarked on an unexpected journey through the worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovered a way to become happier in the true sense.

Harris says that the source of all his problems (and many others) was his greatest, as well as the worst asset – the little incessant voice in his head, which had helped him reach great heights in his career and has also led him to make blunders in life as well. He even resorted to meditation to use it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.

Photo Credits: Goodreads

10% Happier delves in the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves you with a takeaway that could actually change your life.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

'Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to the cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...,' Author Meik Wiking explains in his 2016 book.

For long now, Denmark has been regarded as the happiest country in the world. And hygge is the reason for it.

Photo Credits: Romireads

In this New York Times bestseller, The Little Book of Hygge, Meik helps you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

Meik is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and has said that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.



The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living by Russ Harris

Author Russ Harris in his book, ‘The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living’, explains the way most people go about trying to find happiness, and end up making themselves miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression.

The empowering book showcases the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioural psychology.

Photo Credits: Goodreads

By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness, ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life, the author says.

He presents the following techniques to help readers:

  • Reduce stress and worry

  • Handle painful feelings and thoughts more effectively

  • Break self-defeating habits

  • Overcome insecurity and self-doubt

  • Create a rich, full, and meaningful life

The Art of Happiness - Dalai Lama

Spiritual leader The Dalai Lama dedicated all his life to peace-keeping. A Nobel Prize winner will tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that "the very motion of our life is towards happiness."

Photo Credits: Goodreads

While many already want to attain happiness, in one way or another, there has always been the question of how? In this book, the temporal leader of Tibet took the help of psychiatrist Howard Cutler, to get the message across in a way that people could easily understand.

Through conversations, stories, and meditation, he explores the many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life's obstacles with a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

(Edited by Asha Chowdary)