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7 books for a happy, fulfilling life

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

Thema Bryant, president of the American Psychological Association and a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, says there are a handful of books that have helped her address past trauma, fine-tune her self-care regimen, and conjure more compassion for herself and others.

“I like to highlight key passages to read and reflect again,” says Bryant, who did her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. “Because we change over time, we can gain new insights when we read them again.”

Here are seven books she 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 & Increase Well-Being

by Robyn Gobin

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

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

2. All These Rivers and You Chose Love

by Jaiya John

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

“I read this insightful book often in the morning as a good way to remind myself that I get to choose how I show up and how I shape my day,” she says. “Showing up with 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 are working to make the world around us better, the world within us is worthy of care,” Bryant says. “Rest is a revolutionary act, particularly for racially marginalized people who are often pressured to focus on labor instead of wholeness.”

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

by Nedra Glover Tawwab

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

“Nedra, a licensed therapist, gives science-informed steps to healing and, at times, releasing unhealthy family dynamics,” Bryant says. 

5. Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode — and into a Life of Connection and Joy

by Aundi Kolber 

Good for: Trauma survivors.

“As a trauma survivor and trauma psychologist, I enjoyed this book,” Bryant says. “Surviving overwhelming experiences can cause us to live in survival mode, perpetually fighting and defending ourselves. Aundi, a thoughtful therapist, provides keys to breathing, softening and living with more peace.” 

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

by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

 Good for: Trauma survivors.

“It helps them connect the dots between what they experienced and their current lives,” she says. “By understanding themselves better, people can take steps toward healing.” 

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

This story originally appeared on CNBC

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