14 Books to Change Your Mindset (As Recommended by Psychologists)

28 Mar ‘22
3 min
Lisanne van Marrewijk
illustratie van meisje dat boeken leest

A lot of books have been written about mental health, personal growth, and being happy. Stories that can help you move forward or learn to cope with certain situations. Our psychologists regularly recommend books during consultations. Not just because reading helps you to relax, but also because it helps you to look at things from a different perspective and gain new insights.


We’ve put together a list of 14 books recommended by the OpenUp psychologists. Pick one that speaks to you right now and crack it open. Who knows how it could change your life?


“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison


1. Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap


“If you run after happiness, you’ll run past it.” That’s the philosophy behind The Happiness Trap. It contains many mindfulness exercises that teach you how to put destructive thoughts in their place. Acceptance is a key concept here. It’s about breaking the viscous cycle of always searching for happiness.


2. Francesca Gino – Rebel Talent


Being a rebel doesn’t have to mean you’re always getting into trouble. It can also be about bringing more joy into your life. Rebels are innovative people and they can make real changes. Try breaking a rule for once (not all of them of course) and see what kind of doors it opens for you.


3. Brené Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection


Do you worry too much about what other people think about you? Then this book is for you. You’ll recognize that you’ve always been good enough and learn to embrace vulnerability.


4. Simon Sinek – Start With Why


Simon Sinek explains how the ‘Golden Circle’ works and how many successful people began by asking themselves ‘why’ before carrying out their mission. It doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do it. A still inspiring book based on the most watched TED Talk of all time.


“We become the books we read.” – Matthew Kelly


5. James Clear – Atomic Habits


Everyone has bad habits. If you’re struggling to unlearn them, then it probably doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, it’s just the system you’re using. In this guide by James Clear, supported by biology, psychology, and neuroscience, you’ll learn how to change your bad habits and maintain your good ones.


6. David Goggins – Can’t Hurt Me


David Goggins had a terrible childhood, but with a strong dose of self-discipline and mental resilience, he’s worked hard to get where he is today: “the fittest man in America.” His life story is bizarre and shows that everyone can overcome pain and fear to reach their potential.


7. Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living


Want to get more done and have fun doing it? This one is for you. In this book, Dale Carnegie teaches you to stop just focusing on yourself, and instead look around at your surroundings and see the more carefree side of life.


8. Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow


People have two ways of thinking: A fast, impulsive way and a slow, deliberate way. Both ways are good, but sometimes we use the wrong way of thinking for a particular situation. In this book, you’ll discover why people so often jump to the wrong conclusions and how you can avoid this.


“The keys to life are running and reading.” – Will Smith


9. Dacher Keltner – Born to Be Good


Positive emotions are at the core of human nature and shape our daily behavior. In fact, they might be the way to understand how we can live better lives. In this book, Dacher Keltner takes you through scientific discovery, Eastern philosophy, and personal stories regarding human emotions to illustrate how we can live in harmony with them.


10. Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness


A simple and practical guide, supported by scientific research, re-explains what happiness is and what happiness isn’t. The book contains numerous activities and tips for practicing optimism and enjoying your life.


11. Rick Hanson – Hardwiring Happiness


In four steps, you’ll learn to manage challenging thoughts and hardwire happiness. By overcoming ‘negativity bias’ you can turn your life around and allow good experiences to get to the right part of your brain. The best part: It only takes a few minutes a day.


12. Martin Seligman – Authentic Happiness


In this practical book, Martin Seligman explains that every person has different ‘signature strengths’ and that when you activate these, you not only arm yourself against negative emotions, but you also make the world around you a better place.


13. Mo Gawdat – Solve for Happy


In Solve for Happy, Mo Gawdat shares the underlying reasons why we suffer and dives into a step-by-step process for achieving lifelong happiness and contentment. He shows how we can view our lives through a brighter lens and how we can overcome the blind spots in our brains. Even when we encounter obstacles, we can still find satisfaction in our current situation and be optimistic about the future. An optimistic book with a positive message.


“Reading to me is like entering into a different world, learning new things and changing my perspective.” – Pia Linden


14. Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck


In his book, Mark Manson argues that we should stop trying to be positive all the time. Learn the right way to tackle your shortcomings and setbacks so that you don’t have to keep running from them. Simply looking the (sometimes painful) truth in the eye, gives you more courage and confidence. He provides tools to help you decide what you do and don’t care about. His advice is written in a humorous style, but is also supported by scientific insights.


“Reading teaches us so much about the human condition and can help develop our empathy.” – Joseph Alezzi


Which book is next on your reading list?


Read more: What We Can Learn From the Happiest and Healthiest People in the World