Just to be clear up front here, in case you think I’m about to plug my book Intentionomics as THE book you need to read… I’m not (That would be rather brash, even for me, although I do recommend you add it to your list to read if you haven’t already).

What’s prompted this post is, I was in Brisbane earlier in the week presenting my ‘How to articulate and deliver intentional value’ workshop to a financial planning group. During one of the breaks I was asked by one of the financial advisers this question… “Of all the books you’ve read on self-development and living a good life, what one would you recommend I read?”

While I could have said read my book Intentionomics, instead my immediate response was it’s such a tough question to answer because there’s been wisdom and value in almost every book I’ve read. Some I certainly wouldn’t recommend. So rather than just pick a book, I said I would think about it over the next few days and get back to him.

And that’s what I’m doing in this post.

I’ve been struggling with the question for the past few days now, and have been scanning my on and off line book shelves to try and arrive at an answer… and quite frankly, I’ve failed.

From an academic research point of view, studying for my Master Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, there are a number of text books I could recommend and are viewed by the thought leaders in positive psychology as the texts to read. However, they are seriously academic and not easy reading, and often not easy to work out the ‘what do I do with that?’ from a practical application point of view.

In the resource centre on this site I have listed a number, (not all) of the books I’ve read and have written reviews on many and continuing to write reviews and post them here when I make the time to do so. You can visit my recommended reading list here.

What I decided to do is take the easier way and recommend my top 5 books (other than my own Intentionomics… because, as I’ve said earlier, I am very proud of my book and do recommend it). And I decided on a top 5 because of their ease of reading (style), the practical value of the topic (application) and the science behind their conclusions and recommendations (validation). And I decided to list them in the alphabetical order of their book title to avoid confusion around a higher preference for one over the other.

And as I listed my top 5 books, using the criteria as outlined, I then struggled with why include this one and why not that one?… and why not stretch it to the top ten? So I then stretched the list to a top 10, but again found myself wanting to include a few more, and that took me to a top 20… and I guess you can see where this is going.

Now, your inner voice may be screaming at me to just make a decision, which is exactly what I was aware of my own inner voice advising (taunting) me to do as well.

The big problem I have with the task at hand, is that new research and findings are being reported constantly now because of the growth in the field of applied positive psychology. Indeed, my own Intentionomics and the exploration and validation of the impact of our intentions on living a ‘good life’ – on living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life is breaking new ground in the research.

However, I’ve drawn a line in the sand and have arrived at the one book that I’m recommending to you because it (at the time of reading) captured so much of the research and findings in applied positive psychology without being an academic treatise and provides it in an easy to read and easy to apply format.

And that book is…

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. By Jonathan Haidt

But… and please don’t keep screaming at me… I’m also going to recommend…

Well Being: The five essential elements. By Tom Rath and Jim Harter

because it so easy to relate to the five essential elements they explore.
And… (I know what you’re thinking), I’ve got to recommend…

Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed Of Trust: The one thing that changes everything

because trust does impact everything.
And… (OK, you need to chill a bit, I realise what I’m doing too) I have to include…

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How Of Happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want

because of the clarity around what we can and can’t control when it comes to living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

Enough! This is messing with my mind… I want to recommend books by Todd Kashdan, Dan Gilbert, Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ed Diener and his son Robert Biswas-Diener, and David Myers, and Russ Harris, and Henry Cloud, and Ellen Langer, and George Valliant, Daniel Pink, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, and Kate Hefferon and Ilona Boniwell, and William Compton and Edward Hoffman, and Tali Sharot and… well I’m sure you get my point

Just click here and go to the Recommended Reading section and you choose – they’re all wonderfully packed full of scientifically validated evidence or philosophical and experiential wisdom.

Oh… and if you’re not a reader (although I guess you are if you’ve got to the bottom of this post), and you’d prefer to listen to an audio book, we’ve just released the audiobook version of Intentionomics which you can grab a copy for yourself (or maybe as a gift for someone you care for) by clicking here.