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7 books for a happy, fulfilling life


The right book can encourage personal growth and help lead you to a happier life.

Theme Bryantpresident of the American Psychological Association and a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, says that there are certain books that have helped him to resolve past trauma, improve his self-care approach, and create more compassion for himself and others.

“I want to highlight key passages to read and reflect on again,” said Bryant, who did his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. “Because we change over time, we get new insights when we read them again.”

Here are seven books he recommends for those who want to create a happy, fulfilling life for themselves.

1. The Self-Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety and Increase Well-Being

by Robyn Gobin

Good for: Those who neglect themselves and are often busy with work or caring for others.

“Dr. Gobin, a psychologist, provides practical steps for improving your holistic health,” says Bryant. “Unlike many self-help books, it incorporates awareness of race, gender, and faith.”

2. All These Rivers and You Choose Love

by Jaiya John

Good for: Those who need to learn to feel compassion for themselves.

“I read this insightful book every morning as a good way to remind myself that I can choose how I show up and how I shape my day,” she said. “Showing compassion for myself and others is an intentional act of grace.”

3. Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto

by Tricia Hersey

Good for: Change agents, activists and advocates.

“It’s a beautiful reminder that while we work to make the world around us better, the world inside us is worth taking care of,” Bryant said. “Rest is a revolutionary act, especially for racially marginalized people who are often forced to focus on work instead of being whole.”

4. Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Bad Family Relationships

by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Good for: Those who have conflicts and challenges in their family life.

“Nedra, a licensed therapist, provides science-based steps to heal and, at times, release dysfunctional family dynamics,” Bryant said.

5. Try Slower: A New Way to Get Us Out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode — and into a Life of Connection and Happiness

by Aundi Kolber

Good for: Trauma survivors.

“As a trauma survivor and trauma psychologist, I enjoyed this book,” Bryant said. “Enduring extreme experiences can cause us to live in survival mode, constantly fighting and defending ourselves. Aundi, a mindful therapist, gives the keys to breathe, soften and live with more peace.”

6. What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Strength, and Healing

by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

Good for: Trauma survivors.

“It helps them connect the dots between what they’ve experienced and their lives now,” she said. “By understanding themselves better, people can take steps toward recovery.”

7. Something Happened in Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence

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