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Summer Reading: 9 of the Best Books for Your Well-being

Will books on well-being make your summer reading list?

Summer is a favorite time for people to catch up on reading lists. As should be of little surprise, there are more and more great books focused on optimal well-being. Whether they are topic-focused or cover a range across the dimensions of well-being, a few of these books may be fantastic options to add to your summer reading list!

Let’s break some of the options down a little further.

Stress and well-being have been top-of-mind for many people!

The effects of psychological stress extend being mental-emotional health. This type of stress may impact just about every part of your body!

Within the scope of stress and well-being, it may also be relevant to consider the effects of a trauma-informed stress response, which can be particularly taxing on the brain.

The Body Keeps the Score is a compelling book diving deep into this topic. It centers on the scope of research from Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. Furthermore, other authors have come up with a few books in follow-up to this one, including summaries of the original book and a workbook. (I will mention the full book may be a challenging read and the summary may be a better fit for many people interested in this topic).

Well-being, happiness, and a sense of purpose have become front and center!

As many people can attest, the years of navigating through a global pandemic have shined a spotlight on health factors such as positive well-being, happiness levels, and a sense of purpose. Yet, researchers were already examining these areas.

The What Happy People Know series hones in on the science of happiness (an emerging body of research). This book series comes to us from some of the experts at Canyon Ranch, one of the most prominent and respected wellness retreat centers in the United States. Similar to some of the other books suggested in this blog post, it also has a few follow-up versions, including two specifically for women and another for companies looking to focus more on employee well-being.

You might also like to glean a little bit about how a global pandemic influenced dimensions of well-being and happiness levels. Although Gallup researchers on well-being had traditionally depended on in-person interviews to gather their information, researchers adapted during the pandemic so they could continue monitoring well-being-related factors across the globe. Researchers acknowledged that data quality may have been affected and that resuming face-to-face interviews would become a priority when possible.

A slightly higher level perspective includes the research from Dr. Barbara Fredrickson regarding upregulating positive emotions. The leverage of approaches that do so may amplify positive health behaviors as well as improve the quality of your relationships. Her core book, Positivity, reigns in this topic.

Our new well-being-centered workshops have leveraged some of the applications stemming from Barbara Fredrickson’s work. We kicked off with Stress Mastery through Loving-Kindness and will continue to release other well-being workshops soon.

What about mindfulness and its influence on overall well-being?

Mindfulness isn’t quite the “new black,” but one might think it is. Mindfulness practices have been a part of societies for centuries, but it has taken a dose of modern research + lemons of life for many people to renew interest in mindfulness-centered modalities.

Although mindfulness practices don’t necessarily need to directly correlate with your spiritual journey, they tend to overlap the spiritual well-being dimension. Therefore, some people enjoy learning various origin points (or teachings) from pivotal spiritual leaders, such as Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the guide behind The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now.

Mindfulness practices can also enrich mental-emotional dimensions of well-being. A book like this obtains a new sense of relevance during trying times. Furthermore, it helps to illustrate how integrating mindfulness techniques into daily living may help center one’s self in happiness, love, and purpose.

Another option is The Book of Joy written in partnership with the Dalai Lama. This option centers on concepts such as overcoming adversity while remaining joyful, compassionate, and grateful in life.

Your mindset may play a significant role in susceptibility to disease.

Again, well-being-related research is consistently emerging. Yet, more bodies of work are concluding that mindset influences physiological health, including human susceptibility to diseases or chronic health conditions.

For a slightly higher level, deep dive into the intersections of thought patterns and attitudes with disease-related health outcomes, Permanent Healing by Daniel R. Condron may be a book to make your list. Like many other books on our summer reading suggestion list, there are other books by the same author or related to this core book.

What does it take to nurture your well-being for a lifetime?

Gallup has been a leader in well-being research (across the globe) for quite some time. Two of the people behind all this are Tom Rath and Jim Harter. In Wellbeing: the Five Essential Elements they highlight this research and whittle down the common themes. The book helps illustrate what may contribute to positive overall well-being across a person’s life course.

Another tried and true resource on dimensions of well-being is, of course, the material that has originated from the findings of the Blue Zones Project. There are multiple Blue Zones-themed books and guides available, but the signature book is The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Have Lived the Longest. If books aren’t your thing, you can rest assured that the Blue Zones blog articles and newsletters will center on topics related to overall well-being.

Finally, the art and practice of gratitude have demonstrated notable impacts on people’s sense of well-being. In research, gratitude practices have contributed to increased happiness and optimism.

The Little Book of Gratitude is like a workbook to integrate more gratefulness behaviors into your life. If no other books make your list, this one might be the one book to ensure does make your summer reading list.

As you may have picked up on, many of the concepts across the dimensions of well-being overlap or intertwine. Often, addressing one area may help another area. Doing so may also break down barriers to address the full dimensions of well-being.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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