Conflict and Happiness: A Reading List

Conflict and Happiness: A Reading List

It’s one thing to have values; it’s another thing to put them into action. Roughly speaking, the study of philosophy and religious traditions helps us clarify our values. Psychology and social science give us information about ourselves and others that helps us put our values into action.

Below are some of the books, podcasts, and websites directed toward a general audience that I have found helpful in my on-going search for how to live with myself and others. I have included Amazon links, so you can easily read more about books I list.  I do not mean to recommend Amazon over your local bookseller or library.

If you need help analyzing and evaluating information and arguments, check with your local college or university for critical thinking courses and books.

Please suggest sources you find useful for approaching peace.

Nonviolent, direct action

“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.” Martin Luther King, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Books by Michael N. Nagler, Including The Search for a Nonviolent Future 

Alexander Berkman, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (Granted Berkman shot Henry Clay Frick, hoping to bring about a worker revolution, but you’ll find from Berkman’s memoir that he came to regard that violent act as unproductive.) 

The Daily Good  (You can subscribe for a message a day about something good happing somewhere in the world.)


Mark Goulston, Just Listen: Discover the Secret of Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone 

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (from the authors of Getting to Yes)

Donna Hicks (forward, Desmond Tutu), Dignity: The Essential Role it Plays in Resolving Conflicts 

Bowen Family Systems Theory, website

Books by Bowen Therapist Harriet Lerner including The Dance of Intimacy

Self-knowledge and Happiness

Lawrence LeShan, Cancer as a Turning Point: A Handbook for People with Cancer, Their Families, and Health Professionals (Directed toward cancer patients, but thoughtful exercises for anyone who wants to live life joyfully and authentically.) 

 Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

Hanson and Siegel, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

Stauth and Baker, What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun 

Mindfulness, Guided Imagery, Depression, and Drug/Alcohol Use 

Jack Kornfield’s Dharma talks (based on multiple sources and filled with humor)

Pascal Auclair’s humorous and insightful Dharma talks (some in French)

Health Journeys guided imagery podcasts available from Kaiser Permanente

Terrence Real, I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression

Denning, LIttle, and Glickman, Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol

Social science 

Books by Social Psychologist Carol Tavris, including Mistakes Were Made (But Not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts and The Mismeasure of Woman

Books by Malcolm Gladwell, including Outliers: the Story of Success; Blink: The power of thinking without thinking; and The Tipping Point: How little things make a big difference; and 

Some engaging introductions to philosophy

Alain De Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy 

Christopher Phillips, Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy 

Donald Palmer, Looking at Philosophy 

Tolerance within Religious Traditions

Books by “Zen Rabbi” Alan Leu, including One God Clapping

Books by American liberal Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist William Sloane Coffin, including A Passion for the Possible 

Books by religious studies scholar Huston Smith, including The World’s Religions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s