Summer is a perfect time to catch up on those books you’ve been meaning to read. You might commonly associate summer reading with novels, but it’s also a great time to pick up a nonfiction or two while you take a break from the demands of working life and reflect on how your year is going so far.
Being happier at work is something all of us can benefit from (even when we’re satisfied in our jobs and careers). Here are some easy-to-read yet extremely informative nonfiction titles that you can take to the beach this summer.
The pursuit of happiness has become big business in the U.S., from gratitude journals and well-being apps to endless courses and seminars promising you to achieve that eternal state of bliss. Here’s the problem: in life, bad things will happen, and sometimes, no amount of meditation or “reframing your mind-set” will change the awful feeling that accompanies experiencing those events. This is something that Kogan realized and chronicles in her book. After achieving her American dream and founding a company to help people be happier, she still didn’t feel the state of happiness she craved. It was when she learned to embrace rather than run away from bad emotions that she realized she’d gotten the idea of happiness all wrong. To be truly content, Kogan needed to let herself feel the negative emotions, as well as give herself permission to bask in the positive ones.
Even if we love our work, we will all have days when everything feels like a struggle. Kogan’s book shows that we shouldn’t chastise ourselves for feeling bad, but we know that if we let those feelings pass, good times and success might just be around the corner.
Many people have an unrealistic view of the benefits of meditation–just like happiness, there is often a perception that one isn’t a “good” meditator if they can’t calm their minds. ABC news anchor Dan Harris dispels that myth in this memoir. He told the story of his infamous panic attack on television, and his path to a meditation practice that worked for him, despite being skeptical. This book shows that an incremental improvement in your life can go a long way, and this is something we can all definitely adopt at work. It might take us a long time to become good at something, but if we commit to just one tiny improvement, it’s going to have a big payoff in the long term.
Allison Green, writer of the popular Ask a Manager blog, is reportedly known as the “Dear Abby of the work world ” thanks to her practical, compassionate answers to questions about the workplace. She answers many of them in this book, dividing it into conversations with your boss, coworkers, when you’re the boss, and your job interviewer.
Dealing with issues that involve other people is a necessary part of working, and while those issues aren’t always pleasant, it helps to know how to respond if you find yourself in those situations. Whatever issues you’re facing at work, chances are you’re not alone. This book gives you some comfort in that, and arms you with tools and suggested responses for many possible work circumstances.
While trying to attain an impossible standard of happiness might make us miserable, incorporating more of the things in our lives that bring us joy can make us, well, happier. Writer Gretchen Rubin takes us through her journey of the latter, where she test-drove and experimented with gestures and habits that, according to research and popular culture, makes us a happy person. While you won’t find an earth-shattering, philosophical discussion of happiness, this book does make you think about how you can introduce one small thing in your life to improve it. This is a lesson that can also be implemented in your working life.
5. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam
In our constantly connected world, it’s hard not to feel busy and overwhelmed. But as Laura Vanderkam points out in this book, a lot of that feeling probably has to do with what we choose to do. We can’t change the amount of hours we have in a day, but we can incorporate practices that make us feel like we have more time, and also enjoy more of those moments. That includes our time at work–which for most of us is the culprit of our unpleasant busy-ness. To reap the benefits, you’ll have to be prepared for some trial and error. But when you find what works for you, you might just find that balancing work and life doesn’t have to be so stressful after all.