Five self-help books that may benefit the happiness-challenged

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There are enough books on how to be happy to make those desperately searching for the key to a fulfilled life feel thoroughly stressed. So with your sanity in mind, Ben East wades through the very latest tomes on the subject for five of the best.

The Happiness Equation (2016)

Neil Pasricha; Dh62

Pasricha shot to fame with the bestselling Book Of Awesome series, the success of which encouraged the Toronto blogger (and now well-being speaker and consultant) to set up the slightly scary sounding Institute for Global Happiness – and write this new book. He sets out his nine secrets to happiness in a quest to try to change the way we think about family, work and time – some of which include never retiring (boo), focusing on internal goals and prioritising rather than multitasking. As Pasricha enthusiastically puts it: this book is less about the observation of awesome, more the application of it.

How To Have a Good Day (2016)

Caroline Webb; Dh56

Webb was a former partner at management consultancy McKinsey, so perhaps naturally, her pursuit of happiness is focused on where most of us spend our days – at work. Interestingly she uses the latest thinking in psychology and neuroscience in a practical way to suggest “science-based tweaks” to how we approach the working day. There’s crossover with Pasricha in that she also believes prioritising is far more useful than trying to do everything at once. You’ll be pleased to learn she also feels regular “pit stops” are really important to a fulfilling workday rather than working ourselves to the bone. Time for a tea break …

Happiness By Design (2015)

Paul Dolan; Dh50

Published in paperback last year, Dolan’s best-selling guide to “finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life”, has become something of a modern classic. A professor at the London School of Economics and sometime “well-being adviser” for the British government, Dolan argues that we pay far more attention to what we think should make us happy – a bigger house, better car and so on – than we do the daily activities that actually give us pleasure. Amusingly, earlier this year he told those suffering midlife blues that the worst thing they could do was buy a self-help book. But they should try this one.

Live Happy: Ten Practices For Choosing Joy (2016)

Deborah K Heisz; Dh56

Dolan would no doubt balk at Live Happy – an American media empire that includes a magazine, website and podcast and "empowers people to choose happiness every day". It is the absolute epitome of the more sentimental elements of the self-help publishing industry. But Live Happy's new book, out this month, will undeniably find a huge audience given that its premise – that easy, everyday acts lead to "lifelong joy and fulfilment" – is bolstered by real-life inspirational stories from the likes of Jason Mraz, Alanis Morissette and the actress Laura Benanti. There is some science surrounding positive psychology here too – but Live Happy is unashamedly populist.

The Happiness Track by (2016)

Emma Seppala, Dh61

Deborah K Heisz actually talked to Seppala about The Happiness Track for a recent Live Happy podcast. The Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research is definitely the woman to turn to if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the science of happiness. If the book’s subtitle is slightly aggressive – employing happiness to “accelerate success” – her argument is that being overly careerist won’t actually lead to much if we overlook the importance of fulfilment to a satisfying professional career. There’s loads of practical advice about applying her findings to everyday life.