17 books on mindfulness to improve your health, happiness and relationships

Dude reads book on mindfulness on the beach with wine

There are dozens of articles offering mindfulness book recommendations. 

 

A quick Google search will return plenty of results. 

 

And if you click them, you’ll no doubt see some themes in these lists of books on mindfulness. Common authors like Pema Chödrön, Andy Puddicombe, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others will make appearances. And while you’ll see one of those author names in this article, the vast majority of the books here will surprise you. 

 

In other words, you’re going to find something different on this list—mindfulness books geared toward specific areas of your life. 

 

As such, the books on this list are organized into sections: Classics, Relationships, Happiness in everyday life, Health and Entrepreneurship. But that’s not the only reason this list is unique…

Why read this list of books on mindfulness

Let’s keep this simple.

 

You’re likely busy, so here are 3 reasons why this post has the best mindfulness books for you:

 

1. Mindfulness is a broad topic (And this list covers it all): Most book lists out there are solely focused on the general topic of mindfulness, rather than how it can be applied to different areas of life. The thing is mindfulness is about being present—always. And that means it’s wise to learn how to be mindful during all parts of your life, from relationships, to taking care of yourself to your job. So as mentioned, I’ve divided this list up into five segments that cover all these areas of life. 

 

2. I’ve personally read each book on this list: And I can almost guarantee you that authors of similar articles can’t say the same. Likely those lists have mostly been curated from review sites and other mindfulness book lists. But instead, with this list, I’m only recommending my favorite books about mindfulness (And I’ve read more than 100), so you can expect the very best. 


3. The books offer practical advice—helpful for beginners or pros: No matter where you are on your mindfulness journey (whether year one or twenty) you’ll find a helpful read here. If you’ve read any of my Ordinary Dude Guides, you know that practicality is a key part of my teaching. So that’s what you’ll find on this list: practical mindfulness books with easy-to-apply advice that you can use today.

 

What is mindfulness?

Before you dig into the list, you may be wondering what is mindfulness? 

 

I personally like to think of mindfulness as meditation in motion. In meditation, you’re unplugging from the stream of constant thoughts, media and activity, and instead focusing on just being alive. Being here, in the present moment, in touch with your senses, your body and the world as it is right now. 

 

Mindfulness takes this sense of peace you’ve been nurturing in meditation and carries it into your everyday life. In other words, mindfulness is the art of living in the present moment.

 

If you read my recent article Be Present: What does it mean to live in the moment?, you already know what it means to be present. But for those who are new to this blog, let me give you a summary.  

To be present means to engage deeply with life, with all your senses (not just your thoughts). It means to stop focusing on the end result, and instead focus on how you approach the journey. I call this “finding your how.” Do you approach life in a gentle way, a rushed “trying to get it done” way or a fun way?

There are many ways to approach life, but finding the individual style that works for you and consciously choosing to live in that way, is the practice of mindfulness. 

What are the best books on mindfulness?

Now, you may look at this list and think, “These don’t look like mindfulness books.” 

 

If that’s you, I encourage you to reread the section above and broaden your perspective of what the word “mindfulness” means. Each of these books focuses on the process of life, how you approach the different areas of it, and how you can do so with more poise, ease and clarity of mind. 

 

That’s really what mindfulness is about—facing life, in all situations, with a sense of calm and acceptance—and why I’ve divided this list into five areas. This list contains the best mindfulness books that can help you in each individual area of your life. 

 

For books that may not appear obviously about mindfulness, I’ll explain a little bit about how they touch on the subject and how they can improve your life. 

 

So shall we dig in?

Classics

If you’ve read any of the popular books about mindfulness lists, you’ve probably encountered most, if not all, of these titles. These are the classics. And Instead of drowning you in a list full of them, I just want to provide you the best of the best. 

 

So here it is.

1. Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh

It would be impossible to create a mindfulness book list without including Thich Nhat Hanh. The little Vietnamese monk is a brilliant mind and teacher who’s helped make mindfulness a global phenomenon.

 

While I’ve read several Hahn books over the years, choosing my favorite is downright difficult. I almost listed The Miracle of Mindfulness here instead because it’s an exceptional book on mindfulness for beginners. But Peace is Every Step captures the heart of what mindfulness is, starting with its title.

Mindfulness isn’t a practice that you just do every once in a while or when you feel. You do it with every step.

Your how can be as Hahn says: peaceful. 

 

The content of the book itself is calming to read. If you’ve had a rough day or are stressed out, flip through it for 10 minutes and I can almost guarantee you’ll start feeling more at ease.

 

Peace is Every Step is an incredibly accessible read that deserves to be on any mindfulness practitioner’s bookshelf. I highly recommend picking a copy up.

 

2. Stillness Speak, by Eckhart Tolle

Just like Thich Nhat Hanh, I had trouble choosing an Eckhart Tolle book for this list. I was introduced to Eckhart in the same way as many, through his book The Power of Now, which I was tempted to list here instead. 

 

But really, I love Stillness Speaks for the same reason as Peace is Every Step—its flipability.  When you have a bad day, just flip through a few pages and your attention will quickly return to the present moment.

 

The book flows with words of wisdom that can help snap you out of a funk and remind you that life is meant to be lived in the here and now. 

 

But wait a second, Eckhart Tolle writes about enlightenment, not mindfulness, right? 

 

It’s true, he does write about enlightenment, and Stillness Speaks is also focused on this subject. But enlightenment and mindfulness are much more similar than many dudes think. Enlightenment can be the result of a steady, regular mindfulness habit that is practiced for years on end. It’s impossible to be enlightened without being present. And Stillness Speaks gives you a peek into the end result of what a mindful life truly looks like.

3. Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Essential reading for any mindfulness practitioner, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are provides an exceptional overview of what mindfulness is, as well as practical ways you can apply it in your daily life. 

 

Whenever I recommend a mindfulness book to a complete beginner, it’s either Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness or this one. In addition to advice on how to practice, Kabat-Zinn’s book also shares some big philosophical ideas of mindfulness, such as non-doing, oneness and no-self (which Zinn refers to as selfing here, but it’s basically the same thing).

 

If you’ve read An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation, I typically recommend Wherever You Go, There You Are as a follow up.

4. The Way of Zen, by Alan Watts

If you practice meditation and mindfulness long enough, somewhere along the way you’ll encounter Zen. What is Zen? Technically it’s a religion. But it’s also a way of life that, like mindfulness, focuses on living in the moment. 

 

Whereas other forms of Buddhism make enlightenment sound like it’s reserved for a few special people, Zen says it’s much more direct, natural and available to any of us at any moment. You may start to see why I personally like Zen, as I basically say a similar thing in my book An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Enlightenment

 

As mentioned in the Stillness Speaks recommendation, enlightenment and mindfulness are much more closely related than most people assume. And they ultimately have the same goal: to be more present. 

 

All that said, this book gives a good history of Buddhism, Zen and Taosim, which are all closely related to mindfulness. If you’re like me and have no interest in becoming a Buddhist, you’ll likely still find value in learning about the religions’ philosophies. 

 

Though mindfulness is so simple, it can be a complex topic when you’re just starting out. And this book in particular will give you another perspective on mindfulness. You can simply incorporate the ideas that you like and throw out the rest.

Relationships

How do you treat your loved ones? Whether your boyfriend, wife, kids or whomever. When you have a bad day, do you lash out? Or are you aware of your sour mood, able to manage it and treat your loved ones with kindness, love and respect? 

 

For the most part, that’s what these books are about. Changing the how of your relationships—focusing on how you treat the people you care about most. 

 

That said, this list starts with a straight up mindfulness guide for dudes with kids. It’s not about fostering the relationship, but rather, well…you’ll see in a minute…

5. Ultimate Mindfulness Activity Book, by Christian Bergstrom

How can you teach your children mindfulness? To them it probably sounds about as exciting as watching the evening news. But this book actually makes it super fun. 

 

No, mindfulness doesn’t have to be boring. You can make it a game. And this book offers 150 activities to do just that. Some of my favorites include Sound hunt, Squish and let go and Mandala art. 

 

The mindfulness games are simple and straightforward. In fact, you can pick up this book, choose an activity and be doing a mindfulness game with your kid within the next 10 minutes. It’s that easy. 

 

Overall, I love this book because it’s super flippable and can help bring mindfulness into your entire family’s life.

6. Crucial Conversations, by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny and Ron McMillan Add Your Heading Text Here

Your words are powerful. Your tone of voice is powerful. Are you mindful of how you communicate with them in your relationship?

 

If not, this book will help. It’s hands down, the best communication book I’ve ever read (and that’s coming from a professional writer of 10+ years).

What you say to your loved ones and how you say it can have a huge impact on your relationships, and ultimately your life.

This book will help you become more aware of how you talk to people, how your words affect others and then teach you incredibly practical strategies to communicate with respect, calmness and ease. 

 

If you have any kind of rocky relationships—even if not your loved ones, but rather a boss or coworker—pick up this book right now. I promise you won’t regret it. If you apply the advice, it’s an absolutely life-changing book that will improve your relationships.

7. 5 Steps to Lasting Love, by Ann Marie Taylor

If you’re trying to improve your relationships and become more mindful of your actions, this book is a great starting point. In fact, it may be better to begin here (before Crucial Conversations) as this book is simpler. 

 

5 Steps to Lasting Love is written by a Psychotherapist and it really breaks down how to improve your relationships, using a step-by-step process.

 

This book is on this list because of its simple approach. 

 

If I had to choose my favorite advice within its pages, I’d say it’s the 3 ingredients to heal a relationship: attention, affection and focus on the positive. What that means is, shower your partner with attention (like, ask how her day was), affection (give her a kiss as soon as she walks in the door) and focus on the positive (look for your partner’s good qualities, instead of complaining and focusing on all she’s doing wrong). 

 

If you’re struggling in your relationship, pick up this book with Crucial Conversations and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying more mindful, supportive and joyful relationships.

Happiness in everyday life

When you live in the moment, when you’re mindful, happiness is almost unavoidable. No, you won’t be happy all the time, but you’ll experience the emotion increasingly often. The following books are focused on finding that happiness in your everyday life. 

 

I hope you find them helpful 🙂

8. A Dude's Guide to the Couch, by John Weiler

A Dude’s Guide to the Couch is part satire, part nonsense and part about being grateful for the amazing things in life we take for granted. 

The couch is a key part of almost every dude’s existence. Some of the best moments of your life will happen there, from your first lay, first beers to your favorite team winning a championship. Yet, so many of us overlook the magic that happens here.

How does the book cover the topic of mindfulness? 

 

Like many of the books on this list, the word mindfulness isn’t used once within the pages, but it covers the topic by encouraging readers to be more present in everyday life and to be grateful for life’s simple, everyday pleasures. You’ll probably also get a few laughs from the book.

9. The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

One of my favorite all time books, The Tao of Pooh is ripe with mindfulness wisdom.

 

Taoism’s focus is really about the river of life. Life flows in a general direction and you can either fight the current, try to hold on to a log or let go and flow with it. 

 

Pooh is perhaps the best example of this. While Pooh may not seem particularly mindful (as he often appears slow, unintelligent and says whatever’s on his mind) it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t live in the moment. When he’s happy, he smiles. When he’s hungry he eats honey. When he’s sad, his melancholy shows in his face and voice.

To many, Pooh may seem like a fool. But he can teach us all about living a simple life, enjoyment and finding peace, happiness and wonder in the moment.

This book digs deeper into this philosophy in an approachable, easy-to-read style. I highly recommend it.

10. The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau

How can you have a big, ambitious goal, but still enjoy the journey? If you read my article Be Present: What does it mean to live in the moment? you know that one of mindfulness’s enemies is something called end-gaining. 

 

End-gaining happens when you focus more on getting to the end result than the process, or the step you’re working on right now. 

 

In Guillebeau’s book, he gives some thoughtful ideas and tons of examples of people going after ambitious goals (or as Guillebeau calls them, “quests”) while keeping their focus on the journey. 

 

Some of my favorite bits of wisdom in this book are to think of your quest as a real-life video game with different levels. Your goal is a game that should be played. It should be fun. 

 

His advice to pace yourself and move towards your goal in an unhurried fashion are great reminders to not sacrifice the moment for some future gain.

Health

It’s hard to be mindful when your health isn’t right. No matter how much you try to stay in the moment, pain or anxiety can snap you out of it. 

 

The following books are all about specific mindfulness practices you can do to keep your mind and body healthy—so that you can live in the moment.

11. The Fast Diet, by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

Did you know that Buddha was a faster? It’s true. After Buddha’s enlightenment, he generally followed an intermittent fasting diet, of eating within a nine-hour window a day. Why did Buddha fast? 

 

According to the book Buddha’s Diet, fasting helped him feel light, energetic and in good health, while also allowing him to live comfortably. 

 

I am a huge faster myself, practicing intermittent fasting for nearly every day over the past year. I do it for the same benefit’s Buddha mentions, but also because it helps me become more mindful of the type of food I eat, my habits and even more grateful for the meals that I do devour. In other words, fasting allows you to become more mindful of your eating habits. 

 

While I’ve read many books on fasting, The Fast Diet is the easiest way to start the practice.

 

It suggests following what’s known as the 5/2 diet, which means you eat normally 5 days a week, and then the other 2 days you eat only 600 calories if you’re a man and 500 calories if you’re a woman. This means you can essentially eat something every day. 

 

While I now practice a different version of intermittent fasting, the 5/2 diet was my entry point. I found this book’s plan to be quite an enjoyable practice that made me much more mindful of when I ate, what I ate and grateful for the food that I did eat.

12. An Ordinary Dude's Guide to Meditation, by John Weiler

Meditation can serve as the cornerstone of your mindfulness practice and it can be used to help ease anxiety, calm your body and clear your head. If you know anything about my book, you know that I had a serious anxiety problem nearly two decades ago. Meditation helped resolve it. And this book gives you the blueprint for the path I followed. 

 

Meditation is just one aspect of a mindfulness practice, and as I’ve mentioned in this post, the real goal is to bring the calm, clarity and peace you develop in meditation into your everyday life. 

 

An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation will get you started on creating that foundation, which you can then build on as you form a mindfulness practice. 

 

The book is purposely written in an easy style that anyone can pick up and read. And it’s for just your regular joes, or as like to call them (and myself) ordinary dudes. Whether you’re atheist, religious or a beer drinkin’ dude, An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation provides you an easy way to learn the age-old practice.

13. Play it Away, by Charlie Hoehn

And speaking of anxiety and meditation, Play it Away offers a somewhat similar solution to mental health and, yes, even mindfulness. 

 

The book is about “playing away” your anxiety so to speak. The author had a terrible anxiety problem, was sleeping poorly and just generally felt miserable. That was until he brought play into his life. 

 

What do I mean by play? For the author, it was grabbing a mitt, a baseball and a buddy and going outside to play catch. The process worked. 

 

The author started sleeping better, his anxiety disappeared and he found happiness again.

 

There are tons of suggestions in this book for different ways to incorporate play into your life, from daily nerf wars, making haunted houses, dancing and so so much more. Yes, some of the suggestions sound like kid’s stuff, but really that’s the point…

Unleash your inner child because that little boy or girl inside you knows more about happiness than the adults we’ve become.

Just like meditation, play is really about taking some time for yourself. That naturally helps clear your head, so you can live in the moment and become more present and mindful of the world you create.

14. The Habit Blueprint, by Patrik Edblad

A big part of mindfulness is about taking control of your life. And many dudes don’t do that. They go about their days based on past habits, without thinking too much. Having a routine and habits are good. But the real problem is, have you consciously chosen your habits? Are your habits causing anxiety, pain and exhaustion? Or are your habits creating peace, clarity of mind and joy? 

 

If the latter, then I highly recommend making a deliberate choice with your habits. And while there are tons and tons of books on habits (including one written by yours truly), I am recommending this one for its brilliant simplicity. 

 

This is one of the shortest reads on habit change I’ve ever come across and it’s incredibly easy to read. I believe it’s around 70 pages long and you can get through it in just an hour or two. 

 

Even though it’s short, it can have a tremendous effect on your life. The book really does as it says and gives you a blueprint to follow to change your habits. This is a great read to kick off your journey into habit change and help you produce some quick results. Highly recommended.

Entrepreneurship

Your career takes up a huge part of your life. And the majority of dudes never find happiness in it. While these books are geared towards business owners and entrepreneurs, those who want to find a fulfilling career will likely also find something here. Not only do these books teach you how to find happiness in your work, but also preach an often untalked about mindfulness principle: you create the world around you. 

 

When you live in the moment, your presence has an effect on everything you do. And these books really hammer in on that idea.

15. Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers

This is a short read, less than 100 pages, but it’s ripe with mindfulness wisdom. While the lessons are orientated toward business, they can be applied to your everyday life. 

 

How does this book relate to mindfulness? 

 

Here’s one of my favorite philosophies within its pages, paraphrased from various passages:

Most people assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, but that’s not the point. You should enjoy the process, too—the whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy.

Sivers drills home on this point about enjoying the process of life. Because, well, the process is where life happens. He gives a great example about running a marathon, saying, “When you sign up to run a marathon, you don’t hire a taxi to take you to the finish line.” 

 

And there are many more mindfulness insights within this book’s pages. Absolutely pick up a copy if you’re searching for more fulfillment in your career.

16. Unscripted, by MJ DeMarco

Have you ever noticed there’s a path planned for you in life? 

 

You’ve probably thought about it at one point or another: go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, take a long nap six feet under. 

 

This as author MJ DeMarco notes is called the script. It’s the path society lays out for you in life. Is there anything wrong with it? No, some people are very happy living the script. But, there are also millions, and dare I say billions, of people who don’t fit that mold. 

 

In Unscripted, DeMarco talks about breaking from the script, writing the life you choose and focusing on the most valuable asset you can ever own—time. 

 

We all have a limited supply of time, so how do you want to spend it? 

 

I don’t think the word mindfulness is ever mentioned in this book, but taking conscious control of your life is really what mindfulness is about. 

 

Now, I’m not saying you absolutely should read this book, quit your job and just do whatever you want. That life is not for everyone. But just like when you’re mindful in everyday life about your actions, your words, your tone of voice and how you look at the world, DeMarco gives career ambitious readers a path to take this mindful approach in business, and consciously create a world, a life, that will give them the biggest return on investment possible: the freedom to choose how you spend your time. 

17. Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh

Most people would assume I have the greatest job in the world. I can work from anywhere, I touch tens of thousands of lives with my words, and I am my own boss. What more could you ask for? 

 

The truth is, until I read Delivering Happiness at the beginning of 2020, I was feeling miserable in my job. Author Tony Hsieh’s story helped me turn things around. 

 

Tony’s experience was not much unlike mine, in the sense that he was also a business owner who eventually hated the company he built.

 

After he sold the business, he had a realization. He was responsible for the world he created. He was the owner of his own company, his own world, and he could design it however he envisioned.

 

The one particular line from this book that’s stuck with me is this:

Envision, create and believe in your own universe.

Tony built his second major company, Zappos (now one of the most famous footwear companies in the US), with this idea in mind—create a business he loved to work for that made himself, employees and customers happy. 

 

As for me, Tony’s story made me realize that I, too, am the master designer of my company, and I have the power to create it, however I’d like. So why not envision a business and world that makes myself and my readers happy? 

 

Mindfulness is really about taking control of your world. Choosing the type of world you’d like to create, choosing your how and then following through. 

 

The end result is you can choose happiness every moment of your life. You’re in charge. 

 

And this book beautifully illustrates that point in a business perspective.

Enjoy a more peaceful life with these books on mindfulness

No matter where you are on your mindfulness path, one of the above books is sure to help you deepen your understanding of the practice and become more present in each area of life, being more conscious of your choices with your health, career and relationships. 

 

So what are you waiting for? 

 

Choose one of the books above and go grab a copy today. 

 

Remember, mindfulness is a journey. Don’t expect any individual book to hold the key to happiness.

 

Learn to enjoy the process of reading, improving yourself and making progress in your life. Because that, ultimately, is what mindfulness is about, making peace with the journey and the present moment—because happiness exists in no other place than right here.

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