email, with Facebook,” says Bill Wolfsthal,
associate publisher at Skyhorse. Amid all of
the technological changes, he adds, “we’re
all looking for ways to make ourselves happy.”
The Science of Happiness
For many self-help publishers, this is a transitional moment.
“Happiness used to be a topic that authors treated as a soft, very
personal, very-vague-but-attainable goal,” says Marnie
Cochran, executive editor at Ballantine. “The books were much
more motivational and rah-rah.” Now, she says, neuroscience
lights the way, as several forthcoming titles show.
In Raising Happiness (Ballantine, 2010), sociologist and
happiness expert Christine Carter, who directs the parenting
program at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, laid
out a 10-step plan for “more joyful kids and happier parents.”
For The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work
(Ballantine, Jan. 2015), Carter translates her knowledge of the
psychology and neuroscience of happi-
ness into practical advice for navigating
the demands of modern life, explaining
that there’s no need to “dramatically
change your career or move to the
woods without your smartphone.”
Neurobiologist Amy Banks, a former
psychiatry instructor at Harvard
Medical School, demonstrates that
happiness requires connecting with
others in Four Ways to Click: Rewire Your
BY ANDREA SACHS T hat man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life.” A quote from the latest self-help book? No, it’s Euripides, writing in 424 B.C.E.
Such advice doesn’t go out of style: in fact, books about living the
happy life have been in vogue for the past two decades.
In 1998, Martin Seligman, then president of the American
Psychological Association, drew attention to the discipline of
positive psychology. That same year saw the publication of The
Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and psychiatrist Howard
Cutler (Riverhead), which, to date, has sold upwards of 570K
units in hardcover, according to outlets reporting to Nielsen
BookScan; four years later, Seligman further popularized his
ideas in Authentic Happiness (Free Press), which, to date, has sold
more than 150K in hardcover and paperback.
Many variations on the theme followed, among them
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (Knopf, 2006), The
Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Harper, 2009), and Super
Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize
Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being by Deepak Chopra
and Rudolph Tanzi (Harmony, 2012).
Has the happiness market reached the saturation point? This
year, America was #24 in Gallup’s ranking of the world’s happiest countries. Among the many self-help titles coming this
season—the category as a whole is up 12% over 2013, according
to BookScan—are a flood of books purporting to help boost
readers’ moods amid the frantic pace of life circa now.
“Everybody is completely overwhelmed with work, with
H A PP Y
A survey of the latest
encouraging readers to
look on the bright side