It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been rough on everyone. Adults, teens, and children in the United States are reporting more symptoms of mental health disorders than ever before. Feeling happy and practicing positive thinking is tough during a global pandemic.
It can be incredibly isolating to tackle the challenge of improving your mental health on your own. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best books and resources on philosophy that will help you improve your mental health and well-being.
Studying philosophy requires deep thinking. But even though deep thinking can bring up some difficult, negative thoughts at first, it will lead to a drastic difference in the way that you interact with and process the world.
Below are our recommended introductory texts and a summary or description of each that will help you engage with modern philosophical thinkers and concepts to improve your mental health and well-being.
Best Mental Health Through Philosophy Books
- YouTube Series – Crash Course in Philosophy by Hank Green
Our first text is not a text at all. It’s a YouTube series! Hank Green of the YouTube channel Crash Course put together a terrific 46-episode YouTube series that dives into Western philosophy at the college level. The series examines the self, ethics, religion, language, art, death, politics, and knowledge through a philosophical perspective, and it encourages viewers to consider their personal values and approaches to living. If you are new to philosophy, we recommend starting with this series. They are easy to watch and highly entertaining in addition to being highly informative.
- “Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson
The book “Everything is F*cked” explains why hope is necessary, but also potentially ruinous. Some books on philosophy are too dense to have any immediate practical applications to our lives, but not this one. As a book published for the first time in May 2019, “Everything is F*cked” addresses some of the drastic ways our world has changed since the early philosophers came up with their ideas. Not even the greats could predict our modern-day political climate or the ways in which social media has influenced our lives.
Through chapters with titles like, “Self-Control is an Illusion,” “How to Make All Your Dreams Come True,” and “The Feelings Economy,” Manson writes an anti-self-help self-help book with roots in philosophy, sharp observations, and delightful doses of dark humor.
- “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)” by Don Miguel Ruiz
In “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz presents methods for elimintating beliefs that starve us of joy and create unnecessary suffering. The four agreements themselves are…
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
Don Miguel Ruiz’s work comes from ancient Toltec wisdom, and his book serves as a code of conduct that can change the way we think about finding true happiness and meaningful relationships. The book is short and simple, but it is best absorbed over a period of several sittings. It teaches the reader that we have much more power over our thoughts, emotions, and actions than we may think.
- “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams” by Deepak Chopra
In “The Several Spiritual Laws of Success,” Deepak Chopra essentializes his lifetime of work and teaching into seven powerful laws of success that can be applied to all aspects of our lives. Chopra presents these laws in relation to the natural laws that govern creation. The seven laws themselves are…
- The law of pure potentiality
- The law of giving
- The law of karma/cause and effect
- The law of least effort
- The law of intention/desire
- The law of detachment
- The law of dharma/purpose in life
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is not for everyone, and it departs from what some consider philosophy and enters the realm of spirituality. Still, the book may do wonders for your mental health. By taking some of the pressure off, shifting the way you think, and letting the universe do some of the work, we will find that life doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” is a terrific addition to any reading list for bettering oneself.
- Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Bottom
Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Bottom presents wisdom from some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers from history and from today. The book focuses on addressing our day-to-day struggles. Whether you are looking to mend a broken heart, solve money problems, recover after losing a job, combat loneliness or illness, or simply learn how to live a better life, there is something in this book for you. Readers consider it smart, useful, and entertaining in the way that it simplifies big ideas and provokes deep thought.
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Another great way to engage with philosophy is to choose a philosopher and read as much as you can from their archive of work. Whether Aristotle, Locke, Plato, Marx, or Kant is intriguing to you, there’s a world of growth to discover through a deep dive in major philosophers and their ideas.
Improving your mental health takes time, effort, and consistency. But by taking in ideas from people who have devoted their careers and lives to thinking about thinking, we’ll find ourselves growing each day, bit by bit.