Being happy to be a better person, or vice versa. I’ve spent many years trying to find that inner peace that will enable me to be truly happy, and believe me, I’ve found one of my best allies in reading. For that reason, I want to share 5 books with you to set you on the road to happiness.

That happiness that everyone talks about and that we all yearn for, but are unable to recognise. But what is happiness?

That is one of the most frequent questions asked at the conferences in which I take part, and my answer usually leaves my audience pondering. Seeking for inspiration in one of the famous phrases of Plato, “Looking for the good in our fellows will help us find the good in ourselves.” I am convinced that finding happiness lies in making others happy to be happy. 

“That’s easy to say”, you might think, but I can assure you that these are not mere empty words, but on the contrary, they spring from the wisdom of leading a life working to learn to be a better person and inspiring others to do so.

But that’s enough theory (for now); let’s put it into practice. There are different tips that teach us how to be a better person and find happiness. For example, meditation or practising mindfulness, but in my opinion, the best way to do it is by reading. In this article I want to inspire you by recommending some books on being a better person that have, to a certain extent, changed my life. Carry on reading and write down the titles of these 5 books! 


1. “Man's Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

“Man's Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl


You will find this book extremely moving. It tells the story of a psychiatrist in a German concentration camp and the things he has to do to survive. One of the most important messages this book leaves us is the enormous ability of people to transcend. No matter how adverse the circumstances, we are always FREE to choose how we face them.


2. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

“The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch


An overwhelming book that makes you think, see life in a different light, place value on what is important and live life to the full. As he said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Here is an interesting story. On the 18th of September 2007, the author Randy Pausch gave his “last lecture” at Carnegie University. The lecture was an attempt to explore in depth the true meaning of life in the hypothetical case that this would be his last chance to speak about it. But no-one knew at that time that Paush had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and so it would very likely be his last lecture. 

Far from hiding his condition, he decided to live the last few months of his life to the full. At the lecture, the professor displayed an optimistic attitude as well as a great sense of humour and an excellent physical condition, despite his cancer. During his touching speech, he expressed his thoughts on computer science, interdisciplinary cooperation, education, personal interaction and the meaning of life.


3. “Invicto” by Marcos Vázquez

“Invicto” by Marcos Vázquez


The phrase uttered by Marcus Aurelius “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts” reflects the content and essence of this book. Invicto helps you think about how you want to live, taking as a basis the principles of the Stoic philosophers who attempt to respond to the question “How to live a good life?”. 

Marcos Vázquez guides us through the more than 180 pages on a journey to what is known as “Eudaimonia”, which we could translate as well-being and consists of developing our potential and closing the gap between what you are and what you could become.


4. “The Secret” by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

The Secret” by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller


This book is based on a conversation between a manager and his mentor as they try to respond to the question “What is the secret to great leadership?”.

The 100 pages of this book helps you to think about leadership in both personal and professional terms. We won't tell you the ending, but it does conclude with an acronym, SERVE, in reference to the fact that leading is synonymous with serving.


5. “Built to Last” by James C. Collins and Jerry I Porras

“Built to Last” by James C. Collins and Jerry I Porras


This book was written in 1995. It analyses the “secret” of companies that manage to successfully survive over the years thanks to their ability to adapt.

Over and above the names that appear in this book, each page contains a clear example of loyalty and coherence in achieving its purpose, vision and principles.

One thing I remember that has guided me since I first read it more than 20 years ago is “escaping the tyranny of ‘or’”. In other words, why choose between being one thing or another? Why not be both at the same time?

This way of thinking helps you innovate, be different, create value and prosper as a business, and I would even go as far as saying as a person, too.


You’d be surprised to know how many self-help books teach you to be a better person. In fact, you’d be even more surprised to know the exact number of books I’ve read (and that I still have to read) to continue to grow as a person and inspire my team and the people around me, with the aim of attaining happiness and being the best hotels for the world. 


So, which of these 5 books shall we choose to start out on our journey to happiness? 


Pepe Díaz,
CEO of ARTIEM Hotels