April’s books focus on my current certification in Flourishing and Positive Psychology (+P).
I’ve been playing with various ways to increase my own positivity, focus, and personal understanding the better part of 15 years. It was only recently that I discovered that this field of +P exists. Thankfully there are some really great books out there for me to jump right in the deep end.
Positivity, by Barbara Fredrickson
“If you want to reshape your life for the better, the secret is not to
grasp positivity too firmly, denying its transient nature.
Rather, it’s to seed more of it into your life –
to increase your quantity of positivity over time.”
Positivity is one of the tools I play with at Inspired Grit, and wanting to learn the neuroscience behind the ‘secret’ is one of the reasons I’m currently pursuing my certification in Positive Psychology. This book is considered a staple in this field, and, though some of her conclusions are now in question, it continues to offer a wealth of ideas and resources. Though it has sections of academic writing, it remains a decent book for exploring more about this topic.
The Grateful Life: The Secret to Happiness and the Science of Contentment, by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons
I’m all about gratitude, but I’m not a fan of the sudden onslaught of “gratitude platitudes” from everyone. I’m aware that that makes me come off a bit Eeyore-ish, but the reality is this: just saying you are grateful and not truly feeling grateful is just a waste of words (it’s a fact). What this book does is provide little glimpses in to the ways gratitude have impacted the lives of various storytellers. Each chapter concludes with a short section to help you inspire your own feelings of gratitude. It’s a great mood booster and makes for a great summer read.
Mindset, by Carol Dweck
I read this book a few years ago, and recently re-read as part of my Positive Psychology certification. The book tackles the idea of a learner vs fixed mindset (and yes, I’m very definitely in the learner bucket). Both times I’ve read the book I’ve been generally ‘ok’ with the concept, not finding it particularly revolutionary or praise-worthy. Because I was in a class setting this second time, it was interesting to see the many conversations around this topic, especially when we applied it to areas of our life vs. our life in general. In summary, it’s a short, simple read and a decent reference for my work in positive psychology.
The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Now considered a must read in positive psychology, this was one of the earliest books to tackle the subject of what I fondly refer to as actionable happiness. Yes, it is a choice, and yes, you can overcome genetic predispositions. In addressing 12 ways to affect your happiness (ex. Commit to goals, practice spirituality, gratitude, forgiveness, savoring, etc.), she combines a healthy dose of fact with just enough practical application that this book doesn’t become a snooze fest.
Myths of Happiness: What should make you happy, but doesn’t, What shouldn’t make you happy, but does, by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Her latest book, tackles a number of happiness assumptions via 3 general categories: Connections (ex. I’ll be happy when I’m married to the right person), Work & Money (ex. I’ll be happy when I find the right job), and Looking Back (ex. can’t be happy when the best years of my life are over). It is a nice reminder of some ways where positive psychology principles can be applied in your daily life. What I really liked was her call out, early on, to use both brains: the rational and the instinctual. Her point was to bring out the merit of both thinking through options and acting on basic information. A lot of my work on myself and with others is finding that balance between planning and action.