Book cover: If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy?

If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy?

Author Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, has discovered that the things that make people smart and successful can also undermine happiness. In his book, If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy, Raj asks, “If intelligence helps with decision-making, smart people should make better life choices. So why are some of the brightest and most successful people profoundly unhappy?” He identifies issues successful people have to overcome to be truly happy, including the following: Stop devaluing happiness Negative beliefs about happiness can prevent people from prioritizing happiness. A common negative belief about happiness is that it will make us lazy. If we are happy, then why work? Define what happiness means to you, and then create “a portfolio of things (pictures, songs, people and activities) that you believe are reliable determinants of happiness as you defined it.” Listen to our podcast with Raj Raghunathan! Don’t be overly controlling Seeking control is a good thing, up to a point, Raj writes. Obsessing about achieving outcomes isn’t a good thing. Mitigate an overly high need for control by learning to appreciate how uncertainty can spice up life. Take internal control (retain the keys to your happiness) by working toward personal mastery of your own mind. Try not to distrust others Trust is critical to happiness. When you can’t trust others, you can’t relax, and when you can’t relax, you can’t be happy, Raj writes. People tend to reciprocate trust with trustworthy behavior. Trusting others builds a culture of trust and boosts happiness. Build up your trust by reminding yourself that people are more trustworthy than you might give them credit for, and take notice every time your trust is validated. Order If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy and the founder and CEO of
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10 Best Books to Help Achieve Your Goals

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things,” wrote Albert Einstein. Goals give us purpose when our feet hit the floor in the morning. When we set a goal to achieve something—especially something that is tied to our character strengths—we are practicing what some happiness researchers define as authentic happiness: The joy we feel when we are striving toward our full potential. We have hand-picked these 10 inspiring, action-oriented books to help you set goals, stick with them and finally, accomplish them. The bonus? You will feel happier, not only once you achieve your desired goal, but also in the pursuit of it: The journey of mastery and self-discovery is just as important as the destination. 1. Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change By Shawn Achor Positive change is possible, writes Harvard-trained happiness researcher Shawn Achor, once you recognize that happiness comes before success. When we begin to see our world more positively and realize we can overcome challenges, we summon the drive to achieve personal and professional goals. 2. Nine Things Successful People Do Differently By Heidi Grant Halvorson Social psychologist and motivation expert Heidi Grant Halvorson focuses her research on why some people give up when things get challenging while others persevere. She believes anyone can reach their goals using scientifically-tested strategies to succeed. In this book, Heidi presents studies showing that people who anticipate obstacles and use positive thinking and a plan to persevere outperform those who just dream about a desired outcome. 3. Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide By Caroline Miller Life coach and positive psychology expert Caroline Miller offers a research-based guide to setting and hitting your goals through interactive assessments and quizzes. Discover how to coach yourself to set goals and create physical and social environments that will foster success. When you hit one goal, Caroline explains, the happiness you feel has a “spillover effect” that will help you you achieve additional goals. 4. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success & Happiness By Jeff Olson What you do today matters. What you do every day matters more. The key to successfully achieving your goals is to take small, simple actions and compound them over time, writes Jeff Olson (full disclosure, founder of Live Happy magazine). “Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in,” he writes. For example, bringing your lunch from home instead of eating out for one day makes no difference; but do that every day and you’ll save hundreds of dollars per year. 5. The Power of Positive Thinking By Norman Vincent Peale The Power of Positive Thinkinghas helped millions of people achieve their goals since it was first published in 1952. “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture... Do not build up obstacles in your imagination,” writes Norman, in the original self-help manual. These words still resonate with readers more than half a century later. 6. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny By Tony Robbins Want to achieve self-mastery? Psychology-of-change expert Tony Robbins provides a plan based on the following four steps: 1) Get clear on what you are committed to achieving; 2) Be willing to take massive action; 3) Notice what is or is not working; 4) Continue to change your approach to achieve what you want. 7. The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life By Bernard Roth In The Achievement Habit, author and Stanford engineering and design professor Bernard Roth shares tools and exercises to overcome obstacles and accomplish goals. Believe you are a doer and achiever in order to become one. Be open to learning from your own experience and from those around you. Ignore distractions that prevent you from achieving your goals. Part memoir and part personal development guide, this book offers a glimpse into a brilliant and creative mind, and many suggestions for ways to develop and test your own new ideas. 8. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life By Gretchen Rubin Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin writes that our habits are the invisible architecture of our daily life. It takes some work to form a new positive habit, but once we do, we can harness the energy and regularity of habits to meet our goals. In Better Than Before, Gretchen offers 21 clever strategies to make habits stick and encourages readers to select the strategies that best suit their personalities. Master habits, the book advises, and you master your goals. 9. The Magic of Thinking Big: Acquire the Secrets of Success... Achieving Everything You've Always Wanted By David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. “You are what you think you are,” writes David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. in The Magic of Thinking Big. Exceeding your goals is possible when you believe in yourself. Get over the fear of failure and use the power of a positive attitude to achieve big things. “When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.” 10. Goals! How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible By Brian Tracy Author of dozens of books on personal development, Brian Tracy explains the 12 steps necessary to set and accomplish goals both large and small. The author emphasizes self-discipline and persistence and two keys to achieving your goals. He also encourages readers to clearly establish their goals: Write them down and be specific. Make sure you can easily explain your goal to someone else, Brian says, and know exactly when you have achieved it. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing Editor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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What Great Parents Do Differently

The new book What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive is a science-based approach to parenting intended to enhance children's emotional and social development. Author Erica Reischer, Ph.D., a psychologist and parent educator, offers straightforward techniques and relevant tips for busy parents. Great parenting, Erica writes, “is a skill that can be improved through learning and practice.” Don’t "overfunction" as a parent. Experiment with not doing some of the things you typically do. For example, if your children can walk, they can take their own garbage to the receptacle. Erica suggests that we pay attention to what we do for our kids and ask ourselves if our children are capable of doing it themselves. Making mistakes and experiencing disappointment and discomfort allow kids the opportunity to practice doing better and learning new skills. Feel feelings, choose actions. Feelings are what they are, the author writes. Behavior is a choice and something we can teach. Acknowledge your child’s feelings (demonstrating empathy), but let your children know when his or her behavior is not acceptable. We can show our kids that we don’t have to say what we are thinking or act on our feelings when we are in the midst of a strong emotion. Catch your kids being good. Kids thrive on enthusiastic, specific and immediate feedback. Catching kids being good reinforces positive behavior and increases their chances of repeating that behavior. Be on the lookout for good behavior that you can reinforce with specific praise and an affectionate touch or hug. Great parents are present and lead with the positive, writes Erica. Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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Amy Blankson’s Tech Survival Kit

Does technology hurt our ability to be happy or can it actually help? With the proliferation of smartphones and the internet, Amy Blankson, co-founder of the global positive psychology firm GoodThink, says the answer to this question will define our time. In The Future of Happiness, Amy, a Harvard graduate and Yale MBA, reveals five strategies to harness technology to increase happiness and thrive in the digital age. LIVE HAPPY: What inspired you to write your book, The Future of Happiness? AMY BLANKSON: My brother Shawn Achor and I joined forces to create GoodThink in 2007. Gradually, the questions we heard at our talks began to change. Instead of uncertainty about the economic health of the world, we began to hear concern about our how technology is shaping our lives and those of future generations: Can happiness keep pace with innovation? Would we be happier without tech? How do we find happiness in spite of all this distraction? This book emerged from those real-life conversations with individuals across the globe, across economic boundaries and across ages. I don’t think I’m overstating it to say that the answers to these questions will de ne our time. These are the questions that undergird the modern family dynamic, that shape workplace efficiency and engagement, and set the baseline for our interactions and communications with friends. My goal with The Future of Happiness is to inspire a new way of thinking about technology, one that gives us new language to think about how we fuse technology into our lives. LH: What are a few examples of technology being used for good? Some of my favorite examples are: The Emma pen—used to help Parkinson’s sufferers write again. E-nable—a global volunteer organization that helps individuals 3D-print and assemble prosthetic limbs for children in need. Cochlear implants—enable people to hear for the first time. LH: Do you think there’s a lack of awareness of how technology can make us happier? Absolutely! In recent months, I have seen a growing number of posts about how bad technology is for us. As Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Technology is a tool, a means to an end, and we get to decide how that story ends. LH: How do we consciously curate the tech we use and choose to use technology mindfully? AB: Rather than just getting away from our devices, I advocate a method I call strategic unplugging. To prove that tech is a tool and not a toxin, I am going to use tech to help you gain greater control over your tech. Know Your Stats. Download the Instant or Moment apps to see how many times you turn on your phone each day. The average person checks his phone 150 times every day. If every distraction took only one minute (a seriously optimistic estimate), that would account for 2.5 hours of distraction every day. That’s 912.5 hours a year, or roughly 38 days in a year. You see the problem? Knowing your stats increases your awareness, so that you can make choices about how you spend your time and energy. Know Your Limits. Download the BreakFree app to see how often you use different apps. Get creative about setting limits for use of technology, such as abstaining from tech at nighttime, which will improve your productivity and mood for future days. Know Your Weaknesses. Download the app Unplugged for iPhone or Offtime app for Android to boost your willpower in putting your phone down from time to time. Know Your Intentions. Download the Intentional Living app to write explicitly how you would like to use tech in the future. You might write: My intention is to check email only once a day. Without setting an explicit intention for yourself, the brain will resort to muscle memory and sink into previous habits. LH: How can people start seeing technology as a positive influence in their lives? AB: The first way is to acknowledge that technology has been a positive influence in our lives.Statistics show technology has improved relationships: 66 percent of internet users say their email exchanges have improved their connections to significant friends. 22 percent of respondents reported that they had either married, become engaged to or were living with someone they initially met on the internet. At GoodThink, we often teach individuals to scan their environment for three things for which they are grateful.This exercise teaches the brain that, although there are negative and positive inputs all around us, we can choose to look for the positive and give them priority in our lives. LH: What’s the one thing (above others) you hope readers take away from your book? AB: The future of happiness is up to us. By intentionally thinking about where, when, why and how we are using technology, we can begin to actively shape the social scripts and market forces that drive our culture to create the future that we truly want to see. Listen to Amy's Interview on the Live Happy Now podcast: Read more by Amy Blankson: Let Technology Life Your Life Sandra Bienkowski is a contributing editor for Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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12 Best Books for Your Positive Psychology Reading List

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., defines the positive psychology movement he founded as “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.” The movement helps people cultivate the best in themselves so they can live more meaningful lives. We have gathered together seminal books by many of the founding thinkers of the happiness movement, with subjects ranging from flourishing to flow; from resilience to why we love. Whether you've taken an online course in positive psychology or just want to be happier in your everyday life, reading the titles listed here will give you a running head start on your journey. 1. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research of optimal experience revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. Learn how to tap into your flow—where you find the right mix between challenge and skill and lose track of time. “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.” ―Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 2. The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky’s  guidebook and workbook include strategies, exercises and quizzes based on years of extensive research for understanding how to experience and sustain joy. “Happiness is not out there for us to find. The reason that it’s not out there is that it’s inside us.” ―Sonja Lyubomirsky 3. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D. Forget about fixing your weaknesses. If you want to be happier, identify and focus on your personal strengths. By using your strengths more, you can experience the positive state of “flow” where you feel energized, engaged and in the zone. With self-assessment quizzes and tips, Martin Seligman  shows you how to use your strengths to improve daily interactions with people and each aspect of your life. “Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others.” ―Martin E.P. Seligman 4. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D. Happiness on its own, doesn’t give life meaning. Martin Seligman shows how the five pillars of positive psychology work together to build a life of meaning and fulfillment. He calls it PERMA or positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. “Happiness, flow, meaning, love, gratitude, accomplishment, growth, better relationships—constitutes human flourishing.” —Martin E.P. Seligman 5. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, Ph.D. Psychologist Angela Duckworth studied peak performance to discover how grit—a blend of passion and perseverance—is instrumental to achievement. What you say to yourself after a setback or failure can make all the difference. “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” ―Angela Duckworth 6. Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D. Love can help us live longer and with more meaning, writes Barbara L. Fredrickson, a social psychology scholar and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory. With her decades of research funded by the National Institutes of Health, she shows us how to look for “micro-moments” when we truly connect with others to foster more love in our lives. “Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being.” ―Barbara L. Fredrickson 7. Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.Ds. Genetics contributes greatly to happiness while income makes little difference. Read the discoveries of three decades of research on happiness. What matters most, according to the authors? Relationships to friends and family. “Psychological wealth includes life satisfaction, the feeling that life is full of meaning, a sense of engagement in interesting activities, the pursuit of important goals, the experience of positive emotional feelings and a sense of spirituality that connects people to things larger than themselves.” ―Ed Diener 8. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford University psychology professor, learned through her research that people with a growth mindset believe they can develop their brains, abilities and talents through hard work, while those with a fixed mindset believe their abilities are fixed and cannot be developed. Find out why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. “Becoming is better than being.” ―Carol S. Dweck 9. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D. You may not know what makes you happy after all, according to Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert. This best-selling book explains how the limitations of our imaginations can get in our way of our ability to know what happiness is. “Our inability to recall how we really felt is why our wealth of experiences turns out to be poverty of riches.” ―Daniel Gilbert 10. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor Positive psychology research indicates happiness fuels success, not the other way around. Try these tactics to be happier at work: Train your brain to see patterns of possibility and opportunity; conquer small goals to gradually conquer bigger goals; invest in your social network. “The person we have the greatest power to change is ourself.” ―Shawn Achor 11. Being Happy: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. With an intense fear of failure, you could fall short of your potential. Welcome failure as a part of life that allows you to grow and enhances your well-being. “The all-or-nothing mindset leads perfectionists to transform every setback they encounter into a catastrophe, an assault on their very worth as human beings. Their sense of self-inevitably suffers as their faultfinding turns inward.” ―Tal Ben-Shahar 12. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. Our culture tells us that we have to feel special or above average to feel good about ourselves. Put down the constant comparisons to others and pick up self-compassion. Find out how to treat yourself as you would a best friend and lead a healthier and more productive life as a result. Let go of self-doubt to feel happier. “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” ―Kristin Neff Read more: 12 Top Positive Psychology Courses You Can Take Online Sandra Bienkowski is a contributing editor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO of
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Top 10 Books That Will Change Your Life in 2017

Set aside some reading time and stock your shelves with these 10 exceptional new books, which cover a range of illuminating topics from the way technology affects our well-being to how to live a compassionate life. Make 2017 happier and more fulfilling by giving yourself the gift of continued learning. 1. The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being In the Digital Era by Amy Blankson Overwhelmed by the flood of apps and information online? Discover how to navigate technology in a way that enhances your happiness. Amy Blankson, cofounder of the digital consulting firm GoodThink, reveals five strategies to thrive in the digital age. Start by using your power of choice to scan for the positive. Learn how to use technology as a sixth sense to better understand yourself and the world around you. 2. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking We've heard countless times that Danes are the happiest people in the world, and hygge, which translates roughly as "cozy" or "homey," may be the key, according to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Breaking bread with friends at a table topped with flickering candles; curling up in front of a fire with a good book—these are prime examples of hygge-based happiness. Curling up in front of a fire with a book about hygge? Double-Danish happiness! 3. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu Your personal hardships can turn to joy. Nobel Peace Prize laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu credit personal experiences of hardship and oppression for their eventual ability to lead the joyful lives they live today. Discover the eight pillars of joy to overcome fear, stress, anger, grief and illness. Suffering might be inevitable, according to this dynamic duo, but how we respond to it is our choice. 4. How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom by Jonathan Fields Author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields believes a good life is made up of three buckets: a bucket of vitality, a bucket of connection and a bucket of contribution. Using science-backed and actionable tips, he shows the reader how to fill each of these buckets in just 30 days. Tap into your purpose, the book advises, and do meaningful work in order to vastly improve your life and find maximum happiness. 5. Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose byCaroline Miller Positive psychology author and coach Caroline Miller believes our level of grit is fundamental to living a fulfilled life. This guidebook to building grit offers self-assessment tools, daily exercises and life tips to boost courage and willpower. She explores the key traits of gritty people, how true grit inspires others and how humility and self-compassion also play a role in authentic grit. 6. The Dog's Guide to Your Happiness: Seven Secrets for a Better Life from Man's Best Friend by Garry McDaniel and Sharon Massen Want to be happier? Look to your pooch! Our canine companions can show us what authentic joy is truly about, say authors Garry McDaniel and Sharon Massen, both professors at Franklin University. The book explores seven traits that are essential for happiness through the eyes of our trusted furry friends. We can learn how to let go of stress, the book advises, and get lost in the art of play by watching our dogs just do their thing. Our furry friends can also show us the value of loyalty and unconditional love. 7. At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk's Life by Thich Nhat Hanh Put the power of hope to work in your life. Peace activist and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh draws from his travels as well as stories and traditions from his childhood in rural Vietnam to share important life insights and lessons. “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today,” he writes. 8. Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by Barbara Oakley, Ph.D. Learn how to uncover and develop talents you don’t realize you had—no matter what your age or background. Instead of just following your passions, discover how to broaden your passions. InMindshift, Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., draws on neuroscientific insights to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths and overcome preconceptions with the right mindset. Feeling behind if you start a new career path later in life? Use the skills you’ve already acquired to bring valuable insights to a new discipline. 9. The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann Use the latest research in brain science to improve how you perform and iteract at work. Combining their expertise in neuropsychology and management consulting, neuropsychologist Friederike Fabritius and leadership expert Hans W. Hagemann, Ph.D., show how to sharpen your focus, improve your performance, retain information, make better complex decisions and cultivate trust to build strong teams. 10. The Big Picture: A Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life by Christine B. Whelan If you’ve ever wondered what you are going to do with your life, this book is for you. Though aimed at college graduates, The Big Picture is a guide for anyone who would like to discover their talents and create a fulfilling career and life. Author Christine B. Whelan, Ph.D. uses quizzes and leading questions such as, "What are my talents? How can I use them to help others and create meaning? in order to help each reader find a path to a purposeful life. Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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10 Must-Read Books for Happy, Healthy Eating

We all know that what we eat has a major influence on our overall well-being. But with the cascade of conflicting nutrition information out there, the problem is knowing exactly how to go about eating well. The nutritional experts themselves don’t always agree on what’s good for us—or what’s good for the planet. Should we eat “good fats,” including red meat—as several new books espouse—or stick to a plant-based diet. Should we seek out fermented foods for gut health, or focus on avoiding wheat as our primary dietary goal? We have gathered a full spectrum of current expert opinion on healthy cooking and eating in the books listed here, so in the end you can...go with your gut, and follow whatever advice seems right for you and your lifestyle. And there is some common ground: Reduce your sugar intake. Eat veggie-centered meals. Drink lots of water. Make your meals colorful by including a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Cut out processed food. The opinionated—sometimes cutting-edge—books included here should help you make better, more educated decisions when you stroll through the supermarket aisle or sit down at the table. 1. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet By Nina Teicholz If you like to discuss what’s healthy and what’s not, this book will get you talking. Author Nina Teicholz, a New York Times writer and former NPR reporter, is all for eating meat, eggs and dairy (saturated fat), and she backs up her claims with research from various scientific studies. The author is not a fan of vegetable oils, processed carbs (boxed snacks) and sugar. A lover of whole foods, she encourages you to eat bacon with your eggs, but to put down the candy bar. 2. Eat Fat, Get Thin By Dr. Mark Hyman In Eat Fat, Get Thin, New York Times best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman doesn’t advocate eating fast food; instead he recommends eating the healthy fats found in eggs, nuts, olive oils, avocados and other super foods. According to the author, you can achieve optimum fitness, lose weight, prevent disease and increase your energy just by making smart food choices and eating the right kinds of fat. 3. The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health By Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.Ds. Trust your gut. New scientific research shows that caring for our gut microbes might be the most important health choice we make, according to Stanford researchers and husband and wife team Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.Ds. In their new book, The Good Gut, the authors explore how processed food and overuse of antibiotics are damaging our healthy gut microbiota. They then detail how we can take steps to nourish and strengthen our gut health by eating more high-fiber food. Bacteria in our bodies can fight pathogens, digest food and produce energy and hormones. Learn how your mood, health and weight can all be influenced by the state of your gut microbes. This book includes recipes and a meal plan to show how more mindful diet and lifestyle choices can prevent disease and improve our overall health. 4. Hungry Girl: Clean & Hungry By Lisa Lillien New York Times best-selling author Lisa Lillien, who has made her name as the “Hungry Girl,” offers decadent-sounding recipes such as PB&J waffles, Hawaiian Shrimp-Fried Rice with Pineapple and BBQ Meatloaf in a “clean eating” style, which means they are made with healthy, unprocessed ingredients. Clean & Hungry features 90 vegetarian recipes, 108 gluten-free recipes, and 56 “regular” recipes that can be made in less than 30 minutes. 5. The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle With Food Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., and Alisa Bowman The author’s Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training Program involves mindfulness techniques to transform your relationship with food. The Joy of Half a Cookie is filled with practices that will help you make healthier choices around food with fewer struggles. You won’t find a list of forbidden foods, daily menus or calorie counts in this book. What you will find are the tools that help you “tune in to your own hunger experiences” and begin your journey toward mindful eating. 6. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food By Melissa Hartwig Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the bestselling TheWhole30 cookbook, explains how you can develop a better relationship with food by letting go of the stress and anxiety around choices. Discover how to choose differently and experience food freedom when you start from a position of strength. Food Freedom Forever is part guidebook and part nutritional coach. Learn how to create healthy habits and be compassionate with yourself when you slip back into old habits. Because this book is a follow-up to TheWhole30, you can bet that the program is going to involve giving up some food groups. 7. Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Plant-Based Recipes for Plant-Based Eating Through the Year By Del Sroufe Forks Over Knives is not only a cookbookbut also a movement that advocates cutting out meat, dairy and oils to prevent disease and lose weight. With recipes centered around fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, this cookbook doesn’t just tell, it shows you what you should be eating. Del collaborates with other chefs to design creative vegan meals that are easy to make. Even if giving up dairy or meat isn’t in your plans, this cookbook offers some delicious ways to incorporate more vegetable-centered meals into your week. 8. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life By Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung Renowned Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh joins Harvard nutritionist Lilian Cheung to urge people to be mindful of what foods go into their mouths. A combination of nutrition book and meditation book, discover how to pay attention and breathe to eat healthier. Both experts contend that mindful eating can help everyone eat less. This book also offers healthier alternatives to popular food choices, and several practical exercises to help you build a healthier relationship with food. 9. The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness By Dr. Frank Lipman and Danielle Claro Author Frank Lipman has practiced and studied integrative medicine for 35 years. In The New Health Rules, he offers actionable items you can do for optimal health. The book outlines which foods help prevent Alzheimer’s, why sugar can be destructive, and how to use good bacteria to improve our digestive system. It also includes simple rules to improve your health, such as choosing healthier fruits like berries or melon instead of high-sugar fruits such as pineapple or mangos. 10. Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan By Dr. William Davis What started as an anti-gluten and -wheat manifesto by cardiologist William Davis in his original Wheat Belly book has become a worldwide grain-free phenomenon. In Wheat Belly Total Health, the author explains the differences between grains and why and how you should avoid each of them in order to regain full metabolic health and well-being. Wheat and other grains, he contends, are the culprit not only of excess weight but of a laundry list of maladies, including auto-immune diseases. The book provides scientific backing for his claims, as well as first-person testimonials of people who have lost weight and regained their health. Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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7 Best Books to Boost Your Brain Health

In the past few decades there has been an explosion of interest in physical fitness. We know that cardio workouts lift our moods and weight-training fends off bone loss. We’ve tried yoga and dedicated ourselves to the elliptical machine. But what about mental fitness? Now that Americans are living longer than ever, researchers, psychiatrists and other doctors are turning their attention to how we can maintain sharp and lucid minds, and also optimize happiness and creativity. Not surprisingly, many of the same practices used for physical fitness are also good for your brain. Each book below provides a slew of science-based tips to keep your brain sharp and your body healthier as you grow older. 1. Hardwiring Happiness By Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Want to have a happier, more peaceful brain? Rick Hanson says we first have to overcome our negativity bias, or how our brains learn more easily from negative experiences than from positive ones. His book explores his “HEAL” method: Have a positive experience, Enrich it, Absorb it, Link it to negative thoughts and feelings to soothe and eventually replace them (OK, that’s a long L). Practice daily and you can change your brain to a more nurturing and happy place, according to the book. 2. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life By Dr. Daniel G. Amen Neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen offers scientific evidence on how to optimize brain function. The case studies he presents indicate that anxiety, depression, anger and obsessive-compulsive behavior are related to how structures in your brain work, and that you can in fact change how these structures work. His “brain prescriptions” to make those changes include breathing techniques, improvements in diet, meditation, self-hypnosis and writing exercises. 3. Your Creative Brain By Shelley Carson, Ph.D. Harvard psychology professor Shelley Carson, Ph.D., shows how brain-activation states (“brainsets”) influence the way we think, approach problems and perceive the world. Her “CREATES” model comprises seven brain-activation states that she says can enhance your creative brain and mental functioning: Connect, Reason, Envision, Absorb, Transform, Evaluate and Stream. She encourages the reader to use specially designed quizzes, problem-solving techniques and self-tests to tap into what she calls our most important asset, creativity. 4. Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance By Dr. Majid Fotuhi and Christina Breda Antoniades Boost Your Brain offers actionable advice on how to get a “bigger and better brain,” based on more than 25 years of neuroscience research. Find out what foods help build new synapses and what key behaviors you should avoid. Dr. Majid Fotuhi explains that the size of our brains can be increased (due to neuroplasticity) in just a matter of weeks, resulting in improved focus, memory and creativity. To get a bigger brain, he recommends fitness training, stress reduction, meditation, cognitive skills training and improved nutrition. 5. The Brain Warrior’s Way: Ignite Your Energy and Focus, Attack Illness and Aging, Transform Pain into Purpose By Dr. Daniel G. Amen and Tana Amen, RN “The key to victory rests between your ears,” writes psychiatrist and best-selling author Daniel Amen. Fight against the constant bombardment of technology, negative news and a typical American diet that isn’t healthy, he says. While poor choices can lead eventually to disease, the book advises, thoughtful and goal-directed decisions can slow aging, help prevent dementia and improve your health, focus, energy and moods. 6. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain By Dr. John J. Ratey Exercise is a master key to brain functioning, says Dr. John Matey. Discover the role exercise plays in our mental processes and why it’s the best defense against numerous health conditions and diseases, including depression, addiction and Alzheimer’s disease. Matey’s research includes numerous case studies about how important exercise is to your overall well-being. 7. Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients that Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform By Dr. Drew Ramsey What you eat is directly connected to the health of your brain, says Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist. Your brain impacts your mood, health, focus, memory and appetite. By fueling it nutritiously, your brain and body can operate optimally. With 100 recipes, Eat Complete shows readers how to avoid nutritional deficiencies and stimulate growth of new brain cells. Start your day with a cup of Tumeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate if you want to slow your brain’s aging process, Drew advises. Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO
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Live Happy 9 Best Books to Spark Spiritual Enlightenment

9 Books to Spark Spiritual Enlightenment

Your spiritual life is personal, yet most spiritual books share a common theme—we are all connected. Immerse yourself in these books to live with a greater sense of community, to uplift your spirit, and to get a sense of mind-body integration. These nine favorite spiritual works are like a retreat for your mind and soul. 1. The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have By Mark Nepo The Book of Awakening is filled with poignant insights from Mark Nepo, a philosopher, poet and cancer survivor. His mini wisdom lessons show the value of appreciating every precious detail of life. Keep this book within arm’s reach to get your daily dose of inspiration. “The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.” —Mark Nepo 2. The Road Less Traveled: Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth By M. Scott Peck, M.D. Our spiritual evolution is a long and difficult life journey of self-awareness and personal growth, according to this classic by the late M. Scott Peck, M.D. The book weaves together psychotherapy, religion and science to provide a practical approach for living with a higher understanding of ourselves and the role love plays in our lives. “To proceed very far through the desert, you must be willing to meet existential suffering and work it through. In order to do this, the attitude toward pain has to change. This happens when we accept the fact that everything that happens to us has been designed for our spiritual growth.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D. 3. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams By Deepak Chopra The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is an exploration of how to spiritually nurture yourself and your family through giving back, expressing gratitude, enjoying the journey of life and realizing you are here for a reason. “If you want to transform your karma to a more desirable experience, look for the seed of opportunity within every adversity, and tie that seed of opportunity to your dharma, or purpose in life. This will enable you to convert the adversity into a benefit, and transform the karma into a new expression.”—Deepak Chopra 4. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life By Thich Nhat Hanh With the whirlwind pace of life, its easy to lose touch with the peace that surrounds us at every moment. World-renowned Zen master and spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh explains how we can experience deep feelings of joy and completeness with our next aware breath and our next smile. Filled with anecdotes, the book teaches the reader to bring awareness to the body, mind and whole life through conscious breathing. “If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”—Thich Nhat Hanh Read more: 10 Life-Changing Books That Will Stay With You Forever 5. The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living By Dalai Lama Psychiatrist Howard Cutler sits down with the Dalai Lama to ask him life’s deepest questions in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. Learn the answers to timeless questions such as: Why are so many people unhappy? and Why is there so much suffering in the world? The Art of Happiness shows us that having a philosophy of compassion and a disciplined mind can lead us to happiness, and that a happy life requires study and practice. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”―Dalai Lama   6. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment By Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now shows the freedom and joy of a life lived in the now, where you don’t dwell on our mistakes and choose consciously to learn from them instead. Eckhart Tolle writes that the enemy of enlightenment can be your mind  and the role you play in creating your own pain. Learn how to transcend your ego-based state of consciousness (essential to personal happiness) and follow a path to a more fulfilling existence. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”—Exckhart Tolle 7. The Seat of the Soul: An Inspiring Vision of Humanity’s Spiritual Destiny By Gary Zukav Ego and power can get us off track, but tapping into our authentic power aligns us spiritually. Author Gary Zukav shows the danger in the pursuit of external power and how it produces conflict in our personal lives, communities and in our world. The book explains that we are all on a spiritual journey and that if we wish to, can purposefully infuse our lives with meaning. “An authentically powered person lives in love. Love is the energy of the soul. Love is what heals the personality. There is nothing that cannot be healed by love. There is nothing but love.”—Gary Zukav Read more: 7 Books You Need to Make Love Last 8. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives By Dan Millman An international bestseller, Way of the Peaceful Warrior is the story of Dan Millman, a champion gymnast at the University of California at Berkeley with a mysterious 96-year-old mentor names Socrates whom he meets at an all-night gas station. Through Dan’s daily metaphysical experiences he discovers new ways to see the world and how to live fully. 9. The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho The Alchemist, a mystical tale about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who longs to travel in search of worldly treasure, is a lesson in how to listen to your own heart in order to become self-aware. Read the signs along life’s path, the book expounds, and become self-empowered to follow your dreams. “The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”—Paulo Coelho Read more: 7 Books to Spark Your Career Reboot Sandra Bienkowski is a contributing editor to Live Happy.
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Become Smarter, Faster, Better!

Become Smarter, Faster, Better!

In his latest book Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg explores the science of productivity and how you can get more done without having to sacrifice what you care about most. Realize the value of a stretch goal Setting “audacious” goals disrupts complacency and promotes new ways of thinking. By setting a goal that is seemingly out of reach, such as running a marathon, you are forcing yourself to get creative and figure out ways to complete the task. Charles says that studies show that stretch goals can spark huge jumps in productivity and innovation, especially when mandated at a workplace. Make better decisions by developing your intuition “Many of our most important decisions are attempts to forecast the future,” Charles writes. Get married? Have a baby? Choose public or private school? The people who make the best decisions are the ones who work hard to envision various futures, think them through and ask themselves: “Which ones do I think are most likely and why?” Strengthen your internal locus of control People with a “strong locus of control,” or the extent of the events they feel they can control, tend to praise or blame themselves for success or failure rather than assigning responsibility outside their influence. This concept is correlated with academic success, higher self-motivation, lower incidences of stress and depression and a longer life span. Practice this learned skill by taking actions that put you in control, like awakening your sense of self-determination and seeing your choices as affirmations of your goals. Sandra Bienkowski is a contributing editor for Live Happy.
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