Two high school girls studying

Two Books Teach Teens to Be Happier, More Resilient

Is there any time in life when perseverance and self-control are more crucial—and yet less in abundance—than during the teenage years? In adolescence, brains go through changes that can make teens act impulsively. Meanwhile, changes in hormones cause moods and emotions to go haywire. How can positive psychology fit into this chaotic mix to help teens regain a sense of balance and purpose during this confusing time? Two new positive psychology books have recently emerged that are aimed squarely at teenagers—perhaps the people who need it the most. The Grit Guide for Teens by Caren Baruch-Feldman, Ph.D., inspired by Angela Duckworth and her lab’s research on grit at the University of Pennsylvania, translates principles of goal-setting, resilience and living with purpose for the under-20 crowd. Instead of making teens wade through pages of research, stats and tables, the workbook offers quick explanations of concepts followed by hands-on exercises that bring the ideas to life. Molly Dahl’s Youth Positive is also a hands-on workbook, but it addresses many different aspects of positive psychology. Aimed at the high school level—primarily 11th and 12th grades—it is already being used as a teaching tool in many classrooms in Nevada and California. Author’s gritty success Before writing The Grit Guide for Teens, Caren, an energetic school and clinical psychologist in New York, always saw herself as a gritty person. “I had always been very gritty about academics,” she says, “but not in terms of my wellness.” A few years ago, Caren decided to put her own grit to the test. Using a combination of goal-theory, CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and every other bit of willpower and grit research she could get her hands on, she used herself as a grit-and-purpose guinea pig and succeeded in losing 25 pounds. Her greatest asset was “coming from ‘a place of yes.’” Meaning, focusing on the benefits of losing weight as opposed to the deficits of dieting. On her blog, Caren began to write about issues such as, “How do you actually get people to make a goal, stick to a goal, and achieve a goal?” She found it was easier coming from “a place of yes.” As a school psychologist, her first instinct was to bring what she had learned to young people. Changes in the classroom Youth Positive author Molly also was eager to share her findings with students. She was an educator for 15 years who decided to get a certificate in positive psychology from the Wholebeing Institute. “I just started to feed little parts of what I was learning to my students and they loved it,” she says. So during her last two years of teaching, Molly began adding positive psychology into her regular curriculum, “and their scores went up across the board for all of my classes.” Pretty soon students and faculty alike were clamoring for a book. Teens need positive psychology, she says, “because they are so bored in school. They get really interested when someone asks, ‘Tell me the best thing about you.’ All their lights go on.” She believes that giving them tools early on will help them make better life decisions. Caren, author of The Grit Guide, agrees. “I have two teens myself,” she says. “I feel like there is a lot of anxiety for teenagers today; the world feels very competitive and tough. This generation everything feels like everything needs to be immediate and now. The whole idea of waiting for something has been eliminated.” According to Caren, working on grit can help teens develop delayed gratification. “They need help working on the long-term planning and goal-setting part of their brains. This is really important.” How can teens become more gritty? One problem a lot of psychologists have with the concept of grit is that it often seems like it’s something you are either born with, or not. You either eat that marshmallow right away, or you don’t. But Caren sees it differently. Here are the three ways she recommends that teens can develop grit: Mindset: Work on having a positive mindset, being able to see the positive in something. Having a failure is crushing; it doesn’t feel good. But if you can have a positive mindset you can see that failure as part of the journey and not take it personally. Behavior: Let your behavior reflect your goals; your goals should be: long-term, specific, written down, and you should have an accountability partner if you want to achieve them. How do you get people to think more in the long-term? Eating a donut is easy; getting diabetes is a lot harder to imagine. Write down an advantage card (this is Judith Beck’s concept). What are the advantages to this goal? For example, I am going to commit to reading so that my reading score can get higher. Team: Find a supportive group. Gritty people accomplish goals from a sense of purpose, for themselves and for other people. When we surround ourselves with gritty people, we can pick ourselves up when we encounter obstacles. Surround yourself with positive people who support your goals. Schools and parents need to be “grit cheerleaders.” A sports team, extracurricular club, band, etc. can be your team. Learning their own self-worth According to Molly, some of the most important things teens can gain from reading and doing the exercises in Youth Positive are: To find their own self-worth. To know they really matter. So they can walk away knowing how important and valuable they are and the contribution they can make. To do the “ideal self” activity where you write about someone you admire in the third person and then bring it around to talking about yourself. To learn about self-perception theory. This is when we label someone based on how we see them behave, and we label ourselves the same way. We have the kids start watching their own behavior. How many times do you say ‘Thank You.’ Do you yell at your mom when you ask her to do something for you? It builds self-awareness. Though aimed at teens, both books have resources for teachers and parents in the back—and both could also be used by adults who are looking for hands-on lessons in positivity! The Grit Guide for Teens is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold. For more resources, videos featuring teens themselves and information about the book, check out Caren’s website. Order your copy of Youth Positive, find information for teachers and administrators and find more resources and videos on Molly’s website. An edition for middle schoolers is also available. Listen to our podcast: How to Raise Positive and Gritty Teens, With Caren Baruch-Feldman and Molly Dahl Read more: 12 Best Books for Your Positive Psychology Reading List Read more: Does Grit Outweigh Talent? Emily Wise Miller is the Web Editor for Live Happy. Some of her recent articles include 9 Tips to Be Happier Working from Home and 4 Ways to Stay Engaged With Lifelong Learning.
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Woman backpacker

10 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Wanderlust

Whether you aspire to see as much of the world as possible, or are in desperate need of a change of scene, travel provides a new perspective on life. Arriving in distant places, experiencing other cultures and meeting new people can make the world feel larger and yet more connected—something that gets lost in the hamster wheel of our daily lives. Get inspired to reinvent your routine and radically change your surroundings when you read these 10 rousing tales of danger, romance, courage and discovery—of both faraway lands, and the heart’s true desires. 1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed After experiencing the loss of her mother, a crumbling marriage and a heroin habit, Cheryl Strayed sets out on a quest to find herself by hiking thousands of miles alone on the Pacific Crest Trail. With zero experience and no training, she faces several nail-biting close calls with danger, both natural and man-made. Along the way, she makes friends, finds romance and gains insight that will help heal the pain of her past. “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”—Cheryl Strayed 2. The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau As Chris Guillebeau traveled he became fascinated with people who were in pursuit of their dreams, such as a young widower who completes the tasks his wife would never get to accomplish, and a teenager who crosses an ocean alone. As he finds and writes about these “questers,” Chris realizes that pursuing our extraordinary goals makes us happier than perhaps anything else. Ignite your sense of adventure, he says, by knowing your purpose. “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”—Chris Guillebeau 3. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert From outward appearances, Elizabeth Gilbert had it all—a successful career, a beautiful home, a loving husband. But her life wasn’t making her happy. The memoir/travelogue Eat, Pray, Love details her transformational journey to three different countries—Italy, India and Indonesia where she learns who she really is from a sensual, spiritual and romantic perspective—and what she really wants out of life. “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”—Elizabeth Gilbert 4. Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson Iowan Bill Bryson backpacked through Europe back in the 1970s when he was a young man. As a London-based journalist, he set out to retrace his steps 20 years later in Neither Here Nor There. With his acerbic tone, he recalls old travel memories and explores new ones. “Rome was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be, certainly a step up from Peoria,” he writes.Get ready to laugh out loud as you feel the urge to plan your own adventure. “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”—Bill Bryson 5. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner “Change your location and you just may change yourself,” Eric Weiner writes. As he explores countries and towns known to be the “happiest places,” such as Bhutan and Switzerland, he recognizes a fundamental truth: “By relocating ourselves, reorienting ourselves, we shake loose the shackles of expectation.” With humor and insight, Eric offers helpful advice and philosophical musings on where to go and how to be happier once you’re there. “Travel, at its best, transforms us in ways that aren’t always apparent until we’re back home.”—Eric Weiner 6. Breaking Borders: Travels in Pursuit of an Impossible Record by James Asquith James Asquith is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the youngest person to have traveled to all 196 countries in the world, at age 24. In this travel memoir, he shares his adventures over the five years of working his way around the world doing odd jobs in hostels and restaurants. Let his global wanderlust spark yours. If you need more travel momentum, check out his Instagram account, where he has more than 200,000 followers. “Let locals lead you.”—James Asquith 7. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain Indulge in food and travel with chef, author and CNN personality Anthony Bourdain. He takes you with him on a gustatory journey around the world, complete with photos and his signature caustic commentary. Experience what it feels like to travel with Anthony, and you will know the best place to get good fatty crab anywhere. “Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”—Anthony Bourdain 8. The Mystical Backpacker: How to Discover Your Destiny in the Modern World by Hannah Papp Imagine you quit your job, grab your backpack and embark on a journey across Europe with no plan. That’s what Hannah Papp did when she grew tired of trying to live by other people’s expectations, and it drives the narrative of this book. Part memoir, part guidebook, The Mystical Backpacker offers tips for your backpacking trip abroad, as well as your inner journey to discover your authentic self. “The truth is, we don’t need to look to adventurers and heroes as people separate from or better than us. We can choose to make our lives an adventure and to be the heroes of our own stories.” —Hannah Papp 9. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes In 1996, writer and poet Frances Mayes published a memoir about restoring a villa in the Tuscan countryside that was so vivid it inspired thousands of people to embark on their own Italian adventures. There are no romantic entanglements in the book version, but the author writes beautifully about the sights, tastes and sensations of living where the pace is slower, the tomatoes sweeter and the rooftops are lit by a golden sun. “I had the urge to examine my life in another culture and move beyond what I knew.”—Frances Mayes 10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac This classic road novel follows Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty (thinly disguised Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassaday) as they interact with strange characters and try to avoid trouble while driving aimlessly across North America in the 1950s. Fueled by youthful intensity and Benzedrine, Jack's writing is so exhilarating, it spurred a generation of writers and poets in search of freedom—both literary and existential. “Sure baby, mañana. It was always mañana. For the next few weeks that was all I heard––mañana a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.”—Jack Kerouac Read more: 10 Life-Changing Books That Will Stay With You Read more: 10 Best Books to Help Achieve Your Goals Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor to Live Happy, and Founder and CEO of
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Healthy Brain, Happy Life

Healthy Brain, Happy Life

What does a woman of science do when she realizes she is missing out on everything but science? That’s the question Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neural science at New York University, asked herself—and which prompted her to write, Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better. In an effort to cultivate a world outside of work, Wendy turned her life into a case study, exploring how to activate the brain and use the power of the mind-body connection to increase happiness. Make exercise intentional Everything good you do for your body changes your mind for the better. Make exercise both aerobic and mental. Wendy calls this “intentional exercise,” and you can create it by pairing positive affirmations with a workout you enjoy. The next time you go for a run, tell yourself “I am strong,” or repeat “I am powerful” during your strength trainingclass. Release oxytocin to beat stress Alleviate stress by hugging or kissing someone you love. This could be an adult, a child, a baby or a pet. Feeling the love can immediately combat even the most serious of stressful situations, according to Wendy. Break out of old, inefficient patterns Take a new approach to a familiar routine: For example, stop to think of two new ideas to make your workday more efficient. Consider rearranging your desk or how your office is decorated. “Or try changing the order in which you tackle tasks, starting with what you usually do in the middle of the day,” Wendy writes. “Let this new order of activities or events create new neural patterns.” Listen to our podcast: This Is Your Brain on Happiness With Wendy Suzuki Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor to and the founder and CEO of
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Happiness Library - Let Me Out

Let Me Out Helps Unlock Your Creativity

Author Peter Himmelman offers science-based techniques to unlock your creative potential in the book Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life. In the book, the award-winning musician and founder of the website Big Muse explains how to use both left- and right-brained thinking to take action on your goals. Knowing who you are and what you stand for gives you strength of purpose, he writes. Take three minutes Set a timer for three minutes and ask: What is my purpose? Or if you prefer: What makes me get up in the morning? Your answer to these big life questions are what Peter calls your “Why you?” statement. Now you can reduce your fear of failure and take immediate action toward the fulfillment of your dreams. Write a let-go letter “Clear the logjam,” Peter writes. Give yourself 10 minutes to write a letter to yourself describing all the things you need to let go of that aren’t serving a positive purpose in your life. This practice can help you get out of a rut and make you feel more energized and inspired. Think like a kid “Young children don’t think about the consequences of playing, they just play,” Peter writes. Accessing this kid-thinking state of mind curbs the fear and judgment that get in your way. Give yourself permission to think like a kid and entertain wild ideas. This process can help you in numerous ways, like thinking of a name for a product or service or coming up with a new idea for your business. Find Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life at Amazon and wherever books are sold. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor to Live Happy, and CEO and Founder of
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Happy parents with baby.

10 Best Books for Happy Parenting

Happy parents laugh at themselves, toss perfection to the curb and realize parenting is often a beautiful mess. They learn from their kids and discover that other parents share the same struggles. Yes, finding time to read a book can be a challenge—especially for new parents—but once you do, these 10 books contain wisdom that will last you at least until the kids leave for college. 1. Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood by Matteo Bussola A designer and cartoonist, Matteo Bussola lives in Italy with his wife, Paola, and three young daughters (ages 8, 4 and 2). In this self-deprecating memoir of fatherhood, Matteo has a gift for making us see the beauty in the ordinary moments of being a parent. 2. Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters by Erica Komisar This isn’t a book about working versus staying home, but one that makes a case for being present—emotionally and physically—as much as possible during your baby’s first three years. Working mom Erica Komisar, a licensed clinical social worker,encourages a “more is more” philosophy in which you reduce distractions and focus on quality time with your baby. The oxytocin that is produced during mom-baby bonding provides babies with the nurturing they need to be emotionally healthy and happy, and makes moms feel happier, too. 3. Bossypants by Tina Fey Get ready for a well-deserved laugh as writer, actress and producer Tina Fey faces her most daunting challenge: motherhood. Watch as Tina attempts to be taken seriously at work, navigate the in-laws and shake off the guilt that comes from feeling bored when you no longer find your child’s jokes funny. “Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions. Do your thing and don’t care if they like it,” she writes. 4. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D. Parenting isn’t about raising a “mini me” but a spirit shining with its own signature, writes Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Rather than viewing children as ours to control with quick parenting fixes, the book says, ask yourself what your child is teaching you about yourself. Our children can show us how to live with a greater state of presence that can make us more peaceful parents. 5. Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents by Christine Carter, Ph.D. Christine Carter, Ph.D., draws on her research in sociology and psychology to give actionable do’s and don’ts for raising happier kids. “What makes us truly happy is letting go of our fantasies about the future and engaging in the journey, in the process, and in the present moment,” Christine writes. Discover how to raise kids who have gratitude and are kind, while avoiding the pitfalls of trying to be a perfect parent. 6. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross What if doing less for your kids helped them more? The authors of this road map to a simpler way of parenting are looking back to simpler times when childhood meant plenty of time and space to play. They also suggest reducing unnecessary clutter and scaling back from overscheduling in order to let your kids enjoy their freedom. 7. Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood—The Good, The Bad, and The Scary by Jill Smokler Based on a popular blog started by the author,, this book tackles the realities of parenting. Let go of all the “bad mom” guilt, says Jill Smokler, and realize your kids will be fine if you let them fall asleep in front of the TV or if you help a little too much with their homework. “Being a parent is dirty and scary and beautiful and hard and miraculous and exhausting and thankless and joyful and frustrating all at once. It’s everything,” she writes. So stop beating yourself up. 8. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham, Ph.D. With a doctorate in clinical psychology, author Laura Markham focuses on helping readers establish a close emotional connection with their child from the very beginning in order to create lasting change. Once this vital connection is established, she says, parents won’t have to bribe or plead with their kids to get them to behave. Learn the keys to this and other strategies for positive parenting. 9. The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Meg Meeker, M.D. “Mothers are expected to do it all: raise superstar kids, look great, make good salaries, keep an immaculate house, be the perfect wife,” writes Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and counselor. Take a walk away from the pressure and try on a few of the habits listed in this book. Make real friends, she advises, not just acquaintances; spend some time alone to revive once in a while; and do less more often. 10. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child From Zero to Five by John Medina, Ph.D. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, shares funny anecdotes about the way a young child’s brain develops—and what you can do to optimize that development. Find out why Dad should do more around the house, and how teaching your child impulse control is the best way to get them to go to college. Read more: 10 Quick Fixes Every Parent Should Know Listen to our podcast: Raising Confident and Creative Kids With Heather Shumaker Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor to Live Happy, and the founder and CEO of
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Woman with boxing gloves

Do You Have Enough Grit?

Caroline Adams Miller had to develop grit to keep herself alive. She had success and talent but was battling an eating disorder. Then one day a woman stood up in a 12-step recovery meeting and said she was recovering from bulimia one day at a time. Caroline was transformed the moment when she realized that she could enlist the support of others and take her own eating disorder out of the shadows. She went from hopeless to hopeful. It was her turning point. Today she calls grit her life’s work. In her new book, Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose, Caroline shows us—through meticulous research from positive psychology experts—how to develop the trait of authentic grit, one of the key determinants of life satisfaction and success. LIVE HAPPY: You define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals and note that as a culture, we need more of it. Where have we gone wrong? CAROLINE ADAMS MILLER: I do believe a lot of it started with the self-esteem parenting movement. The belief was if you praise children and tell them that they are special and winners they will believe that and work very hard and live up to that standard of being special. But now we know from the work of Carol Dweck, Ph.D., that it creates a “fixed mindset” that makes people afraid to take risks or not have that praise and it stops them from working hard. Rats that are given sugar water in mazes stop trying to solve the maze; they just sit down and get fat. This is what happened to an entire generation. We have everyone getting trophies and dumbed-down standards. We have playgrounds with woodchips so no one skins a knee. Or phonics made easy. We protect children from themselves to the point where they don’t have to learn any coping skills, or have to learn from failure. And it just keeps getting worse. Listen to our podcast with Caroline Miller: LH: You point out that people need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to develop grit. What do you mean by that? CAM: I heard a great quote on Wharton Business Radio [Sirius XM channel] the other day. I think it’s the answer. “All learning takes place on the cusp of anxiety.” If you are always in the safe place, it’s the status quo. You aren’t learning. There isn’t that kind of edge of anxiety where you are being forced to pay attention and transgress boundaries of physical safety, emotional safety and intellectual safety—so you are never really changing. And stress is what causes people to become more resilient, not less resilient. People get stronger by doing hard things and braver by being courageous. Read more by Caroline Miller: The 6-Step Goal-Setting Challenge LH: What are some of the ways people can cultivate grit? CAM: People who have grit ask themselves, “Why not?” When faced with something bigger than themselves, they ask, “Why not me?” Change the channel in your brain. Go to another place in your brain. Have a slogan. One day at a time. Attitude of gratitude. Easy does it. Or use a symbol, think of a person, find a way to hijack your brain and go to the best channel for you. Create a team around you. Who can I positively connect with today? Givers end up at the top of the success ladder. They brainstorm. They find ways to comfort themselves. LH: If people could take just one thing away from your book, what would that be? CAM: Anyone can cultivate grit. It is not reserved for Olympic gold medalists. If I can do it and go from being successful, talented and looking good, to realizing I didn’t have it and failing in an epic way that almost cost me my life, and then rebuilding authentically from that, I really do believe everybody can strive for grit—because you are going for what matters in life. Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold. Sandra Bilbray is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO of 
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Red-haired woman reading a book.

10 Best Books for Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. They can steal your motivation and often mask your life’s purpose. They put up debilitating roadblocks to basic daily routines: Even getting out of bed in the morning or eating can seem like a chore. While genetics and life circumstances play a role in depression and anxiety, the right tools and information can give anyone a chance to fight back and find happiness. We’ve put together a powerhouse list of books—recommended (and often written) by psychologists—to give you the resources to release yourself from depression’s grip and live the life you want. 1. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy By David D. Burns, M.D. In this important book, Stanford psychiatrist David Burns, M.D., explains how cognitive behavioral techniques can shift how we feel in every moment. Cognitive distortions are a cause of great suffering in depressed and anxious people. When we learn to challenge our negative thinking and choose different thoughts, we can learn to “feel good.” Takeaway: When you change what you think, you can change how you feel. 2. Healing the Child Within By Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. We all have an inner child who is alive and energetic, according to physician and psychotherapist Charles Whitfield, M.D. A dysfunctional childhood and resulting shame can cause our inner child to be lost. Since it was first published in 1987, this classic book has helped countless people find their inner child and heal the pain of the past. Takeaway: Contacting and living from our true self is the central task of personal growth. 3. The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook By Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D. Since its publication, this practical workbook has been a go-to for anyone suffering from an anxiety disorder, from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Learn how to use breathing, food, exercise, meditation and positive self-talk to ease your fears. Takeaway: An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body. 4. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life By Martin Seligman, Ph.D. This fascinating book outlines research done by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., one of the founders of positive psychology, regarding depression and its opposite: learned optimism. An optimistic attitude, according to Martin, is a key factor in overcoming depression. The good news is optimism can be learned. Take an optimism quiz to learn how optimistic you are (or are not). Luckily, you can reset how you think. This book gives you the tools to do just that, for yourself and your children. Takeaway: Pessimism is escapable. 5. The Anxiety & Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution By David A. Clark, Ph.D., and Aaron T. Beck, M.D. Cognitive behavioral therapy founder Aaron T. Beck, M.D., and psychiatrist David A. Clark,Ph.D., offer strategies to identify the triggers that lead to anxiety. Learn how to challenge thoughts and get the courage to take small steps to face situations you fear. Takeaway: Stop it and give yourself a chance. 6. The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points By Alice Boyes, Ph.D. If you second-guess yourself and are hard on yourself in general, you are more likely to suffer from some kind of anxiety. Get unstuck by acquiring new coping skills and understanding how your thought patterns may be causing anxiety. Recognize your innate resilience and ability to cope with things that don’t go as planned. Takeaway: Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. 7. On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety By Andrea Petersen A health and wellness writer for The Wall Street Journal, author Andrea Petersen had another factor motivating her to write a book about anxiety. She has suffered from panic attacks and a diagnosed anxiety disorder since college. On Edge is both a memoir and an objective look at the history and understanding of anxiety, including discussions of current research, medication and non-pharmaceutical treatment. The book makes those experiencing anxiety for the first time (or for a long time) feel as if they are not alone. Takeaway: Enlist the support of family and friends if you find yourself suffering from anxiety. 8. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression By Andrew Solomon An intellectual, historical and personal study in depression, The Noonday Demon is a research-based book that examines the disease from multiple perspectives. Author Andrew Solomon, winner of the National Book Award, is also a longtime sufferer of depression. He depicts the depths of despair and offers glimmers of hope in this beautifully written work. Takeaway: I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems worse than life is good. 9. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth By M. Scott Peck, M.D. One message in this classic book is that avoiding our problems causes pain and suffering. Though not strictly about depression or anxiety, The Road Less Traveled has helped millions of people grapple with the difficulties of life. Only by facing our pain, says M. Scott Peck, M.D., can we grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Once we accept that life is difficult, we can transcend the problems holding us back. Takeaway:The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior. 10. When Bad Things Happen to Good People By Harold S. Kushner Rabbi Harold S. Kushner writes that pain is the price we pay for being alive. When his 3-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant he would only live into his early teens, Harold asked himself, “Why?” We have a choice: We can capitulate to the pain or use these experiences to create meaning in our lives. Again, though this book is not only about depression, it deals with circumstances that can easily cause people to fall into a deep depression if they are not equipped with the right tools to choose another path. Takeaway: Forgiveness is a favor we do for ourselves, not a favor we do for the other party. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing Editor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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Book cover: Option B

Sheryl Sandberg on Grief, Healing in Option B

Resilience is like a muscle you can build. Only in her mid-40s, Sheryl Sandberg faced the unimaginable. The COO of Facebook and author of the iconic best-seller Lean In found her husband, Silicon Valley executive Dave Goldberg, dead during a vacation in Mexico. He had suffered from a cardiac arrhythmia while exercising. After the shocking loss, she would then have to face her children, her demanding job and her own seemingly bottomless grief. “We all live some form of Option B,” Sheryl writes. This version of her life—without the love of her life by her side—became Sheryl’s Option B. Co-written with psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant, Ph.D., Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy shows how the capacity of the human spirit can help you to persevere and rediscover joy even after facing tremendous pain and adversity. “We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events,” writes Sheryl. In processing the death of her husband and partner, she found she had to overcome the three P’s that, according to psychologist Martin Seligman, Ph.D., stunt recovery and elevate depression: Personalization: the belief that we are at fault. Pervasiveness: the belief that an event will affect all areas of our lives. Permanence: the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. “When we realize that negative events don’t mean ‘everything is awful forever’ it makes us less depressed and more able to cope,” Sheryl writes. Studies show that moving away from all-or-nothing thinking helps us become more resilient. “Tragedy doesn’t have to be personal, pervasive or permanent, but resilience can be.” Two years after Dave’s death, unbearable grief still hits in waves, but she aspires to choose meaning and joyand hopes to help others do the same. Here are a few of the hard-won lessons shared in the book: Find hope Even in the darkest hours, you can remain hopeful. “That’s the thing about faith…it helps you know that sooner or later this too shall pass,” she writes. Use hope to take steps forward Grounded hope is the understanding that if you take action, you can make things better. Practice self-compassion Treat yourself with extra kindness during times of stress. Our inner critic can be our own worst enemy. Share your story to heal While not everyone feels comfortable talking about personal tragedy, there is powerful evidence that opening up about traumatic events can improve mental and physical health. Find the gratitude After loss, the emptiness of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can be especially hard. See these milestones as moments to be cherished. Post-traumatic growth (change experienced because of adversity to rise to a higher level of functioning) can help you gain appreciation for life. Live with empathy Loss can result in a heightened awareness of the suffering of others and the ability to live with more compassion. Connect with others Empowered communities build collective resilience. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections with each other. Build resilience together Humans are wired for both connection and grief, and we naturally possess tools to recover from loss and trauma. But it is something we need to constantly reinforce. “Resilience is not a fixed personality trait,” she writes. “It’s a lifelong project.” Visit to connect with others who are coping with challenges. Read stories of people who have built resilience in the face of loss and adversity. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing Editor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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Man meditating on a mountain.

Jack Kornfield Finds Freedom in the Moment

Jack Kornfield says he’s never seen a time when people are working so hard to live more fully. But for too many of us, living more fully is synonymous with cramming in more activities or events. As a result, we’re actually missing out on the lives we’re trying to enjoy. “I felt like this was the time to talk about finding freedom where you are,” explains Jack, whose 15th book, No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are, was published May 16. “[People] want to know how to attend to our children, attend to those we love, to our work—but to do it with an open heart and a vast, wide-open spirit.” The best-selling author, and one of the leading teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practices to the West, says, “Living a simpler life is really an invitation to become more fully present,” he explains. “We spend so much time lost in thought, either worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, that we miss out on the moment.” But one day, today will be the past we’re looking back on, and he encourages each person to find the mystery and magic this moment offers. “If we can take a breath, a sort of mindful pause, and say, here I am entering my workplace, or fixing my child’s lunch, or planning my work agenda…if we can take that time to feel our bodies, notice what’s happening out the window, maybe even take a little walk, then we find that we are living in that moment.” Listen to our podcast with Jack Kornfield: Breath by breath Messages from traditional media and social media remind us that we’re missing out, but he says the real “missing out” comes when we’re not living in the present. “Our culture wants us to get more and go more places and do more, buy more—it’s always more, more, more.” The result is that we may be constantly busy but perpetually drained. And, instead of enjoying what we’re doing, we’re thinking about the next thing on our to-do list. “What helps is to understand we’re really not going anywhere,” Jack reminds. “Where we’re going is to be where we are. This [present moment] is God’s gift to us. So it’s not about doing more or getting more, it’s actually being present more.” The mindful pause While mindfulness—or what Jack calls “loving awareness”—can be difficult to master, it is easy to practice, and that’s really all it takes. It begins, he says, by taking two or three loving awareness pauses during the day. “In one minute, you can reset your compass,” he says, explaining that it is as simple as taking three or four breaths and quieting yourself for a moment. “Feel your feet on the ground, be wherever you are, and take those breaths. And then, ask yourself, ‘What is my best intention for this next moment?’ And in that simple pause, your heart will answer.” While this mindful pause will have an immediate effect, slowing down your heart rate, breath and mind, it will also have a longer lasting effect as you begin practicing it more. “There’s a quality of awareness that makes everything go better,” he says. “When you stand still and let the mind quiet just a little, the heart softens, the body is present and your intuition opens. From that, all kinds of possibilities open.” Paula Felps is the Science Editor for Live Happy.
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Book cover: Win at losing

Win at Losing

Imagine if you could harness the power of failure and learn how to thrive after defeat to achieve what you want in life. Win at Losing, written by Sam Weinman, the digital editor of Golf Digest, uses the stories of legendary leaders and sports figures who have faced loss, humiliation and defeat, only to bounce back. Take it from Susan Lucci Soap opera star Susan Lucci was nominated for 19 Daytime Emmy Awards before she won. Her name was synonymous with losing. Although her losses were painful, she learned to handle them by focusing on the process—going to work each day and doing her best—rather than the outcome. She said the healthiest way to handle losing is to shift the emphasis to your own growth. Turn a bad idea around Approximately 75 percent of startups don’t make money back for investors. For all the entrepreneurs who fail, the most resilient of them view failure as a learning experience to acquire new skills. Just like Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways it does not work.” Take it on the chin When Greg Norman lost the Masters, he faced blistering questions from the media and didn’t hide from reality. “There was no talk of a stiff back or a personal issue; he blamed no one but himself,” Sam writes. Instead of focusing only on his loss, he credited Nick Faldo for playing great golf. Don’t let your setbacks blind you to the success of others. Find the balance between recognizing the fault is not solely your own, while not absolving yourself of any blame. With self-awareness, you can turn failure into resilience. Order Win at Losing on Amazon or wherever books are sold. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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