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10 Books on How to Live a Happier Life

Updated on August 15, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

I worked alongside natural health professionals, studied and practice Dianetics, worked as a fitness instructor and life coach.

Living Better

Living better is something we strive for whether we are conscious of it or not. It means taking care of yourself both spiritually and physically. Being well is part of being happy. A Harvard study indicates people know their happiness rests on their mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. The following books helped me achieve happiness and changed my life for the better as well as countless others around the world.

1. Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue and Roger Gittines

Two people, I respect recommended this book to me. I experienced back pain due to chronic back problem from a herniated disc in the lower back. I did physical therapy and chiropractic care. Both disciplines worked, and I avoided surgery. Now and then, I’d overexert myself and feel pain. During the process of healing my back, I had three MRIs and found out I have a degenerative back issue that is causing my chronic pain. I thought, “I am going to have to live with this pain.”

Relieve Pain

Pain Free by Pete Egoscue educated me on how the body works, how to repair it, and why surgery doesn’t repair the body. Surgery fits the body to the injury. Egoscue’s book tells you how to get your body back in alignment, so the pain goes away. The content contains exercises the author calls “E-cises” with detailed photographs and step-by-step instructions.

The E-cises, done correctly, instantly relieve pain. The first time I did them I felt relief right away. I amazed. Egoscue includes E-cises for the neck, shoulder, wrists, hips, and several sports. I perform the E-cises for racquet sports since I play racquetball. Because of this book, my body is pain-free.

How to Keep the Body Healthy

Egoscue says the E-cises have a 95 percent success rate for people who try the exercises. The main point is they are a series of gentle exercises with constructed stretches.

The one point I learned from Egoscue is the importance of motion. The body needs to move, and that is the only way to keep the body healthy, and functioning is movement.

2. Dianetics: The Modern Science to Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard

In the late 1970s, my college Psychology teacher listed Dianetics: The Modern Science to Mental Health on his recommended reading list as part of the class curriculum. I read the book and found out how I can help myself and others. To this day, I am so happy he introduced the book to me. The book released to the public in 1950 and immediately hit the New York Times bestseller list. Author L. Ron Hubbard not only details how the mind works but includes his experience and discovering how a person can help another person.

Causes of Stress

The book contains a complete description of the reactive mind. The reactive mind, which was unknown until Hubbard discovered it, is the source of all your problems. It causes undue stress, self-doubt, and hopelessness. The techniques described in the book gets rid of the reactive mind. Nothing else does it.

The technique enabled me to see for myself what was causing me stress, self-doubt, and unhappiness. The person, using the technique, guided me and listened to me, he never evaluated or told the reasons for my stress or unhappiness. I found out for myself.



The person, using the technique described in the book, guided me and listened to me, he never evaluated or told the reasons for my stress or unhappiness. I discovered it for myself and experienced a tremendous amount of relief. I became happy and stress-free. I felt better mentally and spiritually and helped family and friends by apply Dianetics techniques with them.

3. Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone

My chiropractic recommended that I see the movie Forks Over Knives, so my injured back healed faster. I watched it on YouTube. It changed my eating habits, even though I ate well before. I found Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone. I read it. The information in the book changed my diet even more.

Plant-Based Diet

The book contains three parts. One explains how a plant-based diet maintains a healthy body. The second part is information about plant-based foods. The third is 125 recipes that helped me convert to a plant-based diet. After reading this book, I am more informed about the plant-based diet and know how to prepare tasty food that is plant-based.

Quick Diet Information

The book's recipes include Tofu Mayonnaise, Easy Snack Ideas, Lentil Soup, and Outrageous Brownies. The brownie recipe looks the best and tastes yummy.

All recipes are without meat, dairy, and oils. Oils because they are highly processed and all the nutrients taken out of the plant they originated.

Going without oils in cooking is a hard one for me, and I still cook with oils. The book talks about how olive oil is the worst. Imagine.


4. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct by Thomas Szasz

A few friends of mine introduced The Myth of Mental Illness to me as a resource in understanding the charlatans or quacks of this industry. As a byproduct, I found out that every person is different. It's okay. Psychiatrists label and treat anyone they can to make a buck. Szasz defining and exposing the fabrications of psychiatry is the best I ever read. The book is called a classic that revolutionized the core thinking of each psychiatrist’s modus operandi. The moral assertions of the psychiatric profession as a whole become heightened as clearly defined by Szasz.

He delineates how perceived unwanted behavior is diagnosed as a mental illness by psychiatrists. Szasz maintains such diagnoses allows the individuals to forego any responsibility of their actions because they easily blame their purported illness.

Szasz criticizes “Freudian psychology as a pseudoscience” and forewarns of the danger of psychiatry overreaching into all facets of modern life. I agree with his explaining how psychiatry lacks benevolence, and the role of ethics in psychiatry is lacking.

I witnessed brutal involuntary treatment, and Szasz clearly defines the whole purpose of psychiatry is to subdue people and control them. A way for society to get rid of those who “don’t fit in,” "undesirable," or “act different” and treat them out of “compassion.”

I learned so much about how to truly heal someone who is stressed or coming from a traumatic experience. Healing occurs only in an environment of respect and dignity. The doctor respects the patient’s rights, so they are in control, taking responsibility.

5. The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Cathy Byrd

Jack Canfield, the creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Series, wrote the forward to this book. In it, he mentions Art Linkletter's byline "Kids say the darndest things."

That is how Cathy Byrd's book begins. Her toddler son, Christian, tells her he used to be a tall baseball player. He insists on wearing a full baseball uniform every day. Every waking hour he insists on playing baseball.

Have You Lived Before This Life?

The coincidences Christian and his mother experienced along their journey of spiritual discovery are uncanny. Bringing the question to the forefront: Have you lived before this life? The current status quo wobbles and flounders with such an idea. During ancient times, living more than one life was a common belief. Byrd's book introduces the possibility once more.

Past Lives

Being a wonderful and caring mother, Byrd listens to her boy, does extensive reach, and discovers her son was Lou Gehrig. On top of that, she was Gehrig's mother.

The reason I am recommending this book is the mother's ability to grant her son's beliefs without being judgmental. Every parent should learn from this perspective. She hit adversary from her Christian church and Christian friends. Because she listened to her son and did research, she discovered the truth. Past Lives is a subject worth looking into for personal growth. Just be careful who you tell and who you go to for advice.

Why do you read self-improvement books?

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6. Sport Stretch: 311 Stretches for 41 Sports by Michael J. Alter

I am a hardcore racquetball player. Sport Stretch: 311 Stretches for 41 Sports keeps me limber for every single time I enter the racquetball court. The book is not just for racquetball players. That is why I recommend the book that will help you live a better life.

Being limber is super important if you plan on living well into your golden years. Even for K-12 kids in their formative years and testing their talents at various team sports this book will help prevent needless injuries.

When I do fitness consults with those just starting or restarting a fitness program, I stress the importance that the body is meant to move. If the muscles get stretched before and after a workout, the benefits are fantastic for the body.

The body is more fluid and resilient - not as prone to injuries. I learned this from Alter’s book because he clearly defines the meaning of stretching and getting most out of your stretches.

He offers beginning levels to advanced levels of stretching. Some of the stretches in the book I will never do because they are extreme. The book contains illustrations and guidelines for all 311 stretches.

I hope you get a chance to read this book and do some of the stretches and stretch more in your life.

7. The Way to Happiness

Making the right choices in life is what we teach our kids and remind ourselves every day. Understanding how to make the right choice in life is crucial to living a better life. External influences confuse us with what is the right choice when it is a bad choice. Lying to our parents, being mean to a stranger, breaking the law, and not taking care of ourselves are examples of people making the wrong choices. We see it every day unless we are holed up in our house and never venture out the front door.

The Way to Happiness Foundation promotes the small booklet called The Way to Happiness. The booklet contains 21 precepts. Precept means a general rule of conduct to help you determine the way to respond to a situation in life. The booklet is non-religious with common sense moral codes designed to help anyone learn how to make the right choices by reading and following the precepts.

A friend of mine gave a booklet to a construction worker who was telling her all the problems he was experiencing in his life. She handed him the booklet and told him to read and apply it. He thanked her for the booklet and a week later contacted her and told how much better he was doing because of the booklet. My friend felt so good about helping him that she continued to hand out of the booklet to family and friends.

I pull the booklet from my bookshelf whenever I feel something in my life is not going the way I want it to go. I find the precept that applies to that situation. I read it, think of examples, and apply it in life. Like magic, the situation is resolved.

8. Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine

I recommend Out on a Limb by Shirley Maclaine because the book helped a friend of mine find her spirituality. I felt comfortable within my skin and knew about past lives. I write about movies and admire Maclaine's body of work. I wanted to get Maclaine's point of view of how she discovered past lives. Her journey is worth reading.

MacLaine writes more than just about her realization of having more than one life. She sets an example of coming to terms with responsibility for others not just yourself.

She writes about her career and her definition of fame. Movie stars are Gods. We are mere lower class citizens that movies stars should never cross down into our realm again.

The main point of her book that stands out as a vital data is if you don't know doesn't mean it is false. Study and learn for yourself. Learn to know and understand to judge.

9. How to Get Well by Paavo Airola, N.D., Ph.D

The first book I bought about natural healing is How to Get Well. It came as a recommendation from a highly respected natural nutritionist I was taking a class from at the time. In Airola's book, he offers natural remedies for all ailments ever discovered. They are therapeutic uses of foods, food supplements, vitamins, herbs, juices, fasting, baths, and ancient and modern nutritional and biological modalities in the treatment of conditions.

My favorite of his recommendations is the Dry Brush Massage. He devotes a whole chapter to it. It is one of the most invigorating and live-saving regimes I have ever done. The book is out of print, but find it and place it in your library as a reference for living a better life.

"If doctors of today will not become the nutritionists of tomorrow -

The nutritionists of today will become the doctors of tomorrow."

— Paavo Airola

10. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Charles Barkley recommend this book because Tim S. Grover personally trained them back to champions after career injuries. He also trained Jordan to jump even higher. His knowledge of sports performance and motivation defines as an international authority on what it takes to be a champion and Hall of Fame athlete.

Grover's philosophy is not limited to the sports field. A business consultant recommended this book to his clients and invited him to speak at one of their events. Anyone who reads his book and applies the 13 steps on how to become a champion becomes successful in any field.

Relentless is an easy read, so teenagers, college students, and people at large can benefit from Grover's straightforward approach to becoming a success. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to succeed. His philosophy defines champions: Cooler, Closer, and Cleaner. The goal is to be a Closer. The game plan is clear and doable - "don't think" to professional athletes and business people around the world.

Living a Happy Life

Living a happy life means taking care of yourself spiritually, mentally, and physically. When these three aspects of our lives are in alignment, we are living a better life. Our positive outlook affects our family and friends, so they feel better and want to live a better life, too.

© 2019 Kenna McHugh


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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 months ago from Northern California


      Those words, "Movie stars are Gods..." is paraphrased from her book. She talks of starting a relationship with a film crew member of a film she starred, and how it was frowned upon by her peers.

      I've worked with celebrities, and they do have a quality of "bigger than life." Perhaps, "God-like" is how best Maclaine could describe herself and other movie stars.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      I've heard of some of these books and have maybe read one or two. Shirley MacLaine's book was on my list a few years ago and I can't remember if I ever started it or not.

      I was wondering if the claim, "Movie stars are Gods. We are mere lower class citizens that movies stars should never cross down into our realm again," was her take on life or yours as the reviewer? It does seem that the general public holds actors up above the rest of us, not that I think it's true.

      Thanks for the book reviews and recommendations.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      5 months ago from Northern California


      That is so cool you've read some of these books, too. I am curious to know which ones you have read.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      5 months ago from Northern California

      Stephanie, Thanks for reading my article. I hope you found at least one of these books helpful.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 months ago from sunny Florida

      Quite a list of books---some I have read others I will need to find at the library and read thanks for sharing Angels are on the way this morning ps

    • Stephanie Billon profile image

      Stephanie Billon 

      5 months ago from Kenosha, Wisconsin

      These are great recommendations. Thank you for writing this article.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      7 months ago from Northern California


      You are welcome. Books are more resourceful than the Internet.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 months ago from sunny Florida

      Lots of information here...I will be seeking out the ones. Thank you for sharing these titles with us. have not read already. Angels are on the way this

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Anusha, Welcome to HubPages. I glad you found my article interesting. I worked on some horrible abuse cases in the industry. I take pride in telling the truth about the psychiatric industry.

    • profile image

      Anusha Nimrod 

      8 months ago

      An interesting article that focues on scientific basis of mental health. I'm new here and amazed to find such detailed articles on psychiatry.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Natalie, Thank you for reading my article and your comments. The late Thomas Szasz was a psychiatrist as well and a good one. He makes a valid point in his book about how psychiatry’s diagnostic criteria are voted into existence by psychiatrists. They insert the new "mental illnesses" into Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) - a system of classification that is drastically different from, and unlike, anything in medicine. None of the diagnoses hold any support by objective evidence of physical disease, illness or science. The manual includes everything from problems with mathematics to stuttering, from fear of spiders to cigarette addiction, from anxiety to nightmares—374 such invented diseases in all.

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 

      8 months ago from Chicago, IL

      Some interesting reads, Kenna. I can't say I completely agree with Szasz's view that the whole purpose of psychiatry is to subdue people and control them. I have met some very good psychiatrists and though I'm biased, I think scrapping all mental health care as a science of control is a bit extreme. As in any field there are abuses and things that need to be revamped and reconsidered. Yet a lot of suffering people have been helped by those in this area.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Patrick, That's great you found Dianetics on Google books. Let me know your thoughts after reading it. My favorite chapter is "The Goal of Man."

    • Patrick Patrick profile image


      8 months ago from Nairobi

      From the article, these sound like great books. I was lucky enough to find "Dianetics: The Modern Science to Mental Health" on google books. I am looking to start with that one.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Liz, Yes. The Bible is a helpful book. I plan to add more books that I have familiarity.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      8 months ago from UK

      These are all interesting and useful books. I guess I would also add the Bible on the spiritual side.


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