Books and Culture

The 3 best books to help you live a happier, more successful life, according to a productivity expert

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A good book can turn hours into minutes, or transport you to another world – but a great book can inspire you to change your life. 

Chris Bailey, an author and productivity expert, tells CNBC Make It that he has pored over "countless" books on productivity throughout his career to find the titles with the best advice for getting organized and, as a result, thriving at and outside of work. 

Below, Bailey shares three books he considers "essential reading" for anyone interested in becoming more productive, and living happier, more successful lives: 

'Mindset: The New Psychology of Success'

By Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

In this book, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck explains how to cultivate a "growth mindset" – a pattern of thinking where you believe your talents can be developed and that failure can be a springboard for success. 

"It's important to have a mindset that you can grow, change and improve as a human being before investing in productivity," Bailey notes. 

Dweck also presents a convincing argument for how our success in personal and professional endeavors can be dramatically influenced by how we think about ourselves and our abilities. "It's a great read that can change how you think for the better,'" Bailey adds. 

'Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity'

By David Allen 

This 2001 classic, which Bailey calls "the productivity bible," offers practical tips for organizing your life as well as overcoming feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. 

There's chapters on improving your focus, tackling difficult projects, cleaning up your email inbox and more. 

"'Getting Things Done' is the first, and best productivity book I've ever read," Bailey says. "After reading it, I felt as though my mind had been cleared of tasks, commitments and everything else for the first time in a long time – I can't recommend this book highly enough." 

'The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work'

By Shawn Achor 

The path to self-improvement is often paved with negative self-talk – as Bailey points out, "wanting to become more productive, for example,  implies  that you're not happy with how you're spending your time, attention and energy in the first place."

Achor's book is an antidote for such fears and doubts – he writes about how happiness fuels success, drawing from his work with Fortune 500 executives to explain how to reprogram your brain to be more positive and, ultimately, more successful at work. 

He outlines seven principles to achieve 'the happiness advantage,' including focusing on small, manageable goals and building a strong social support network. Adds Bailey: "Becoming happier doesn't just put a spring in your step – it'll make you more productive too." 

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