I am highlighting my favorite best positive psychology books below (in no particular order), focusing less on scholarly works and more on accessible material that people can apply in broad work and entrepreneurial settings.
The “positive psychology” field has been around for decades, but in the past several years, thanks to some notable research, we recognize its profound impact on society.
Table of Contents
Best Positive Psychology Books: My Favorites
- 1. Batthyany, A., Russo-Netzer, P. (Eds.). Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology. Springer
- 2. Frankl, V.E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press
- 3. Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press
- 4. Linley, A. Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others. CAPP Press
- 5. Maslow, A.H. Toward a Psychology of Being, 3rd Edition. Wiley
- 6. Boniwell, I. Positive Psychology In a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness (3rd edition). London: Mc Graw Hill
- 7. Csikszentmihalyi, M. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row
- 8. Peterson, C. A primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press
- 9. Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York: Oxford University Press
- 10. Rogers, C. On Becoming a Person, 2nd Edition: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Mariner Books
- 11. Tal Ben Shahar. Happier
- 12. Ron Friedman. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace
Top 12 Must-Read Positive Psychology Books
These are the top ten books on positive psychology that we suggest. Although some of these are intended for beginners in positive psychology and some are not, they are all incredibly helpful positive psychology resources.
1. Batthyany, A., Russo-Netzer, P. (Eds.). (2014). Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology. Springer
Although this book attempts to combine concepts from positive psychology and existential psychology, it only addresses positive psychology in part. The purpose of this fusion is to draw some sort of meaning from both of these fields’ teachings.
This is not an introduction to positive psychology; rather, it is a high-concept exploration of positive (and existential) psychology that would be most useful to those who are interested in both positive psychology and philosophical viewpoints. However, for positive psychology devotees with philosophical interests, it is probably the best choice on this list.
2. Frankl, V.E. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press
This book, which is a reprint of a 1959 translation of the original 1946 edition, is about the author’s experiences in World War II concentration camps. Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist, uses these experiences as a jumping off point for a discussion on the purpose of life, as the title of the book suggests. Frankl contends that discovering meaning rather than pleasure is the purpose of life.
This work is an essential contribution to humanity’s search for meaning and is recommended by psychologists like Carl Rogers.
3. Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press
Seligman’s Authentic Happiness is a classic work on positive psychology and a requirement reading for anyone interested in learning more about it. This is more of a handbook meant to introduce people to positive psychology ideas that they can use to improve their own well-being than it is a textbook geared toward academic audiences.
Additionally, the book includes an assessment that readers can use to identify their own strengths and improve their wellbeing in a tailored manner. This book is a fantastic introduction to positive psychology for anyone from the father of the field himself, despite not being written for an academic audience.
4. Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others. CAPP Press
This book, written by the man who founded the Center for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP), is all about identifying your strengths and maximizing them. This book will reveal something about you that you didn’t know, whether it’s your strengths as a parent or as a worker.
This book is for you if you are having trouble understanding the purpose of discovering your strengths or if you are aware of them but need guidance on how to best utilize them.
5. Maslow, A.H. (1998). Toward a Psychology of Being, 3rd Edition. Wiley
A few of Maslow’s earlier theories, such as the previously mentioned hierarchy of needs, are expanded upon in this book, which was first published in 1962. The book focuses on ideas that have since come to be considered fundamentals in psychology, such as self-actualization, as well as ideas that are crucial to positive psychology in particular, such as wellbeing.
Maslow focuses on the circumstances necessary for people to maximize their potential in the book, which is a concept found in modern positive psychology’s concept of finding one’s strengths. For those who enjoy reading about pre-Seligman psychology’s positive psychological stances, this is a good alternative.
6. Boniwell, I. (2012). Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness (3rd Edition). London: Mc Graw Hill
This book offers a descriptive introduction to positive psychology rather than offering any specific advice. This is a useful overview of positive psychology for anyone interested in learning more. Additionally, it offers suggestions on how readers can begin utilizing positive psychology to enhance their lives.
This book is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for not only a summary of positive psychology but also concrete steps they can take to improve their lives. We highly suggest this book for those who are just learning about positive psychology because it presents the field as it is without trying to direct future research in any way, making it a great resource for those who want to get a general understanding of the subject.
7. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row
This book is not so much a complete introduction to positive psychology as it is a deep dive into a state of consciousness the author has dubbed “flow”. The author claims that flow is a state of focus that not only aids in the completion of the task at hand but also makes the work more enjoyable.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi is a flow specialist, and this book shows readers how to apply flow in their daily lives. This book is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their concentration skills.
8. Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press
Although it is intended to be used as a textbook in introductory courses on positive psychology, anyone with an academic interest in the subject should find this book to be useful.
The textbook offers recommendations for more reading, listening, and viewing in addition to a summary of positive psychology research and some of the various areas of life that the field is interested in. For academic audiences, this book is especially suitable.
9. Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: a Handbook and Classification. New York: Oxford University Press
This book, which was written in part by Martin Seligman, focuses on character development as a component of positive psychology. The authors define character, outline the various characteristics that make it up, and discuss the connection between character and wellbeing.
Character, according to the authors, is a component of positive psychology because it can influence a person’s levels of well-being. For those who are more interested in people than society as a whole, this would be a good introduction to one aspect of positive psychology.
10. Rogers, C. (1995). on Becoming a Person, 2nd Edition: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Mariner Books
This book by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, two important figures in humanist psychology, is a thoughtful examination of psychotherapy as it was in 1961. Rogers felt that, at the time, psychotherapy was becoming too focused on prescribing drugs as a “quick fix” and not focusing on the needs of the client.
His client-centered therapy has since gained a lot of ground, but it’s still important to read this book for positive psychology because it emphasizes the value of people and their needs rather than just treating mental illnesses with drugs.
11. Tal Ben Shahar. Happier
You can think of this book as a useful manual for working on your own happiness and wellbeing. It is rich with powerful, diverse, practical, and insightful exercises that will lead you to more positive emotions, a new sense of meaning, and in many ways open your eyes to what “life of wellbeing” truly means.
12. Ron Friedman. the Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating An Extraordinary Workplace
On this list, my second favorite book is. The most recent findings in motivation, creativity, behavioral economics, neuroscience, and management are used by award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman to explain what really contributes to our success at work. Anecdotes and scientific proof abound in this highly entertaining book.
Reading the books on the list above will give you a head start on your journey, whether your goal is to be happier in general or you’ve taken an online course in positive psychology.
Hope we all have a happy and healthy life!
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