Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
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In this national bestseller -- Martin Seligman's most stimulating, persuasive book to date -- the acclaimed author of Learned Optimism introduces yet another revolutionary idea. Drawing on groundbreaking scientific research, Seligman shows how Positive Psychology is shifting the profession's paradigm away from its narrow-minded focus on pathology, victimology, and mental illness to positive emotion and mental health. Happiness, studies show, is not the result of good genes or luck. It can be cultivated by identifying and nurturing traits that we already possess -- including kindness, originality, humor, optimism, and generosity.
Seligman provides the tools you need in order to ascertain your most positive traits or strengths. Then he explains how, by frequently calling upon these "signature strengths" in all the crucial realms of life -- health, relationships, career -- you will not only develop natural buffers against misfortune and negative emotion, but also achieve new and sustainable levels of authentic contentment, gratification, and meaning.
Self-important Author Repackaging Some Good Ideas I simply cannot understand most of the other reviewers here in their adoration of this book. Primarily, the book draws on insights already expressed by others without giving appropriate credit. One example is John F. Kennedy, who defined happiness as "full use of your powers along the lines of excellence" (compare this to Seligman's defintion: "successfully using your signature strengths to obtain...gratification.)" Another example is Norman Vincent Peale who defined optimism as a "habit of mind" (compare this to Seligman's point that we can achieve optimism by routinely engaging in the "disputing of pessimistic thoughts.") Can you say Positive Thinking? Conciously or unconciously, Seligman has repackaged these thoughts and labeled the package "Positive Psychology."
The warming over of these old concepts, in itself, would not be a bad thing because the borrowed concepts have much validity. What IS bad, however, is the way Seligman padded and diluted these nuggets with a lot of personal anecdotes, self congratulation, questionnaires, and psuedo science. And he constantly uses pure trivia as his source for second guessing other great thinkers on the weightiest of subjects. For example, he implies that the enitire book was hatched as the result of an "epiphany" he experienced when his 5 year old daughter called him a grouch. Similarly, all of his self-assured recommendations on child rearing, contained in a long chapter that seems tacked on to the book, are based on the experience of raising his own kids. Seligman apparently is on his second family (his 6 kids include toddlers and near-middle-agers.) Why should I take his advice on child rearing when he admits that, until he bribed her with the offer of a Barbie Doll, he couldn't stop his youngest from hiding, day after day, where her family could not find her? He actually says we should only bribe kids this way "once or twice in a lifetime."
Finally, Seligman unlocks the mystery of God for us by engaging in his typical practice of finding answers not in the words of Aristotle, Plato, or Freud but by seeking answers in less less likely places. He goes instead to the world of sci-fi, telling us that his theory on the identity of God was inspired by an Isaac Asimov short story. He unravels this mystery for us by quoting a poolside conversation during which, as he describes it, he dazzled a brilliant writer, Bob Wright, with his profound insight on the Diety. What's the insight? "God comes at the end" but wasn't here in the beginning!
If you want to get anything useful out of this book, you have to work hard to separate the meaningful stuff from the self-important fluff. I suggest you instead seek out the thoughts of people like Kennedy and Peale, who were not only better thinkers, but a heck of a lot less arrogant....more info
in the "run, don't walk" category The review from Aug 2002 does a nice job of going through the highlights of the book and so do not bear repeating. Instead, I would like to share with you the impact the book has had on me. Twice in the past 3 years, I have faced a significant crisis. Each time I have gone and read this book and come out feeling stronger, replinished and ready to take on life. I literally keep a cheat sheet of what Seligman postulates and read it every now and then. Its easy to dimiss what he says as common-sense or obvious. The basic tenets of good parenting, a good marriage and a good life are common sense-driven as well, yet so many of us fail at them so much of the time. I think of this book as one of life's instruction manuals. Read it and it all starts to make a little more sense....more info
A novel approach This book begins with a bang and got me very motivated. However, Mr. Seligman lost my favor in the later chapters which became or were at least interpreted by me as a bit preachy and self-righteous. I've read many such books and liked the focus on the positive. In the later chapters the message I received was that if you don't do A, B, or C then you are a bad person doomed to a life of unhappiness. So buy the book or don't but stop before the second half and you'll get more out of it....more info
The Starting Point To Finding Happiness Dr. Seligman's book should be the first read on any list of books to help in finding happiness. Dr.Seligman is one of the recognized world experts on what contributes to happiness. He provides tests in the book and also on the authentichappiness.com website to help the reader identify her/his "signature strengths". They are those characteristics that are our truest strongpoints. He suggests trying to incorporate as many of them as possible into our daily lives and paying less attention to other characteristics that aren't our strong suit.
Naturally, the book is very helpful not only in finding happiness in everyday life, but also as an important tool to guide in career selection. I review the basics concepts of this book with my college management students each semester. Other reviews I've done provide a fuller listing of many excellent happiness and kindness self-help books, but it seems sensible to me to start with this book. It's only logical to identify what our strongest traits are upfront so we can bring them into play in relationship to the wise advice contained in his book and in others I've listed. ...more info
Interesting Prespective This CD has an interesting prespective on happiness. I tried one of the things suggested about sharing with someone how their life has impacted yours. It was a delightful experience. ...more info
excellent Having studied in psychology for a few years, I find this book refreshing with new ways of improving and increasing our happiness level. I plan on reading it again and again.
I find it very interesting....more info
"Some great theories and self-tests" I saw the book and the CD in the library and opted for the CD. Good choice. Some time ago I started reading "Learned Optimism", also by Seligman. I never finished reading it, even though it was an excellent book. Authentic Happiness adresses the things in our lives that produce the most happiness as well as those things that bring us down. One of the biggest insights for me, even though I've heard it and read it many times: Don't work on or worry about your weaknesses, rather, increase your strengths! This is a difficult assignment for a perfectionist. Are you a "glass is half-full", or "half-empty" person? Which ever you are, can you change? Seligman brought a lot of deep, soul-searching questions into play. He also offers a web-site including self-tests, to find out where you stand in the happiness line of life. I don't know whether I'd ever read this book, however, I would like to listen to the audio program again. Positive stuff!...more info
Well researched Rather than repeat what others have said, I am grateful that Dr. Seligman has provided new insight into the art of being happy. He draws from his vast research on depression, optimism and pessimism to render a different approach to finding genuine happiness. A must read....more info
Leading the Way to a Happier Future Marty Seligman is the leader of the emerging field of Positive Psychology. Finally, psychologists are focusing on what works instead of what is broken. In this highly readable book, the author shares the latest research on happiness and what creates it. I suspect many of the negative reviews were written by pessimists and traditional psychotherapists whose voodo therapy probably does more harm than good. Its true that this is a new field but its significance could change the course of the world. If we all focused on creating positive emotions instead of material wealth, we could transform Earth into a happier and more sustainable planet. Thanks Marty, the people of Earth need your leadership and compassion....more info
Positively Disturbing This is the first time I have written a review. In this particular case, I felt it was my responsibility to forewarn potential readers of the disturbing contents of this book. I've read several "self help" books on subjects ranging from introversion to optimistic thinking. I found this book to be of little help and quite disturbing. The book is filled with tests and self evaluations. I do not believe it is necessary to know where one falls on the optimist/pessimist scale. Often, such tests can only further depress or make anxious an already vulnerable reader. In Chapter 5, the author uses an extremely horrific and disturbing story to illustrate a five step process to forgiveness. I was further sickened by the author's list of "bodily pleasures" in Chapter 7. Rather than feeling uplifted by this book, I found myself feeling upset and outraged by the author's egotism, ignorance, perversion and insensitivity. I caution anyone seeking advice on optimism ...more info
Happiness -- How do you get it? Truth be told, I have a fairly negative personality. With amazing ease, I can leap from an unpaid bill to visions of bankruptcy and wheeling around shopping carts. One of the reasons I hesitate to watch the news is it is very depressing.
And yet, I also have a very strong vision of possibilities. I can also envision a world where people take the high road in their relationships with others and generosity runs rampant. People actually "get it," and the world becomes a better place in so many ways.
I have been intrigued by the idea of positive psychology for a long time. It's probably a natural interest given that I am a life coach. To me, life coaching allows people to expand their possibilities, to move from a place where they are stuck to a new relationship, career, or life purpose. And sometimes that movement is difficult due to the world view of the individual. The cup is half empty.
Seligman starts off fairly early in the book with a test of happiness. This test, as well as many others, can be taken on his web site, www.authentichappiness.com. (Seligman gains from offering these tests on the web site. He gets to collect the research. However, I would encourage you to check out the web site as the tests can be taken repetitively.) I mentally took most of these tests as I read.
A curious thing happened as I made my way through the book. I could feel my mood lighten. There were things I could do to brighten the lens of my world view. It was encouraging to note that Seligman also has a more negative personality and still has managed to create a body of work devoted to positive psychology.
Some of the research results were quite interesting. For example, more money, better health, more education, or re-location to a sunnier climate have no effect on happiness and life satisfaction. If you could change your race, that wouldn't help either. What does matter? You'll need to read the book to find that out....more info
From a person who was once very unhappy... I believe this book goes a long way toward directing those who are still seeking happiness at a feeling level. But, in order to be totally fulfilled we have to get over our (narcissistic) need to always look at our transient feelings as any indications of how we are doing. I completely disagree with Dr. Seligman's statements on our 'set points.' I used to be chronically unhappy. I moved so far beyond that 'set point' that I do not even remember who I used to be. I think that 'set points' are an unecessary perspective in such a happy book. I asked a teacher who has helped me greatly in shifting my perspective. Here is part of his response:
"I see 'set points' as emotionally determined. As long as an individual qualifies and quantifies their happiness by the presence or absence of particular thoughts or emotions, then, I agree with Dr. Seligman, and they are `not likely to take long leaps in either direction from such a set point'. However, when such introspection is replaced by acceptance and surrender, regardless of the presence of particular thoughts and emotions, then the individual will uncover the root of authentic happiness, which is Joy. Then boundless leaps are possible." This quote was used with permission from Mick Quinn (Author: Power and Grace - The Four Steps of Evolving Consciousness)
The original book on happiness is worth a read Seligman is the father of "positive psychology," a branch of psychology that focuses on building on the positive elements of a person's life rather than spending time working through past traumas and challenges. Seligman describes a number of key principles of positive psychology in an interactive manner. For example, there are two self-assessments in the book that determine how much of an optimist you are and identify your "signature strengths". Seligman also includes exercises that can increase your happiness level and personal stories that bring the concepts to life. While this book doesn't summarize the scope of happiness research the way other books (like Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt or Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar), the reason is that this book is the foundation of the other research and, as such, is a good primer on Positive Psychology....more info
This is science? Professor Seligman addresses his audience in two distinct costumes. In the first, he wears the white lab coat of the scientist, and he presents findings in the form of regularities across population groups: this empirical data is descriptive, in that it relates what is the case and makes no exhortations as to what should be the case; it is also objective, in that it relies on a methodology that allows another scientist to potentially duplicate the findings. Seligman's second costume is that of the sage, or archetypal wise man, so that he can be seen as wearing flowing orange robes, or a comfortable tweed jacket, or the vestments of a cleric or rabbi: in such garb he tells us what should be the case; the methodology here is such that it positively invites disagreement - consensus is neither necessary nor presumed; instead of relating what humans do in fact strive for, he instructs us as to what humans should strive for.
If Professor Seligman wore each of these two outfits in turn, then his performance would be clear and comprehensible. However, he changes costume frequently, and without warning, and he often speaks as if dressed in an odd combination of both - white lab coat thrown over black cassock, his stethoscope tangled with his tzitzis. The scientist starts to sound like the preacher-man. This is not just confusing, it is deliberately misleading.
As a scientist, Seligman is helpful and informative. In an appendix, he provides the bones of a conceptual analysis of the term `happiness'. He dissects the term along several axes: firstly, by temporal direction - whether the happiness is seen as of the past, the present, or the future; secondly, by sensory or reflective faculty - whether the happiness is purely sensual, or whether it requires the engagement of rational processes; and lastly, along the axis of passivity versus activity - whether it is passively experienced by the subject, or whether the subject actively engages in behaviour which engenders, or even constitutes, happiness. This analysis might be incomplete, but it is useful as far as it goes. If you like, he distinguishes various `sub- types' of happiness. These `sub-types' can co-exist, and conflict, within an individual - thus it makes sense to say that an individual is `unhappy' with regards his/her past, but `happy' in the present; or `unhappy' sensually, but `happy' in terms of the activity that is being performed (say an athlete in great pain on approaching the finishing line of a race). By making these distinctions, Seligman makes it possible to comprehend the results of the studies he cites.
The studies themselves are interesting. Most of them track a sub-type of happiness that involves the reflective faculties, and which is directed towards the past - answers to questions along the lines of, `How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?'. As an example: one might expect that as a nation becomes economically wealthier, its inhabitants would respond to such a question more positively - the average `happiness' of the citizens would increase. Not so. If you sample the physically healthier segment of the population, they would on average be `happier' than those ill, surely? No. The beautiful, as opposed to the plain - happier? No. And so on. All these counter-intuitive findings are intriguing and, given that the limitations of the methodology are spelt out, uncontroversial. You can, if you wish, call these scientific findings, or at least statistical ones.
The problems begin when Seligman, or anyone for that matter, tries to do something with these findings. Seligman suggests that it is `better' to be happy. One can well ask, "Better in what way?". Seligman's answer has several strands. The most prominent is an appeal to self-evidence - he presumes that it is a ubiquitous human trait that humans prefer to be happy. His auxillary strands have happiness as conducive to a human society that is more productive (in some sense), more peaceful, and more knowledgable. His answer might be said to rely on common sense, or on uncommon practical wisdom, but it certainly does not rely on scientific method. Relatedly, he cites six ubiquitous virtues, gleaned from reading over thirty texts of traditional repute - while many other virtues are mentioned, these six are common to all. He then commends these six virtues, apparently the consensus of the thirty texts lending them the authority to be regarded as prescriptive. As a methodology this might well be pragmatic, but again it is not distinctively scientific. As a scientist, Professor Seligman presents the findings - but when he champions an increase in the amount of individual or collective happiness he does so not as a scientist, but as an ordinary citizen, or, perhaps, as a citizen who has read the wisdom of the ages.
Taking this analysis in a slightly different direction, one can ask what `sub-type' of happiness should be prioritized. Seligman's own taxonomy has made it possible to be happy in one way, while unhappy in another, so the question arises which type of happiness is most important. Here Seligman suggests that the `gratifications' trump the `pleasures' - that is, happiness involving the rational faculties and reflection is more important than happiness consisting of sensual pleasure alone; and that `active' happiness, that is behaviour that actually constitutes `happiness', holds a higher priority than a passively experienced subjective feeling of happiness. He goes further and claims that even more important is `meaning', this vague concept being said to arise when a human's activities (presumably happy ones) are connected to `something larger'. Again, one can either endorse or reject Seligman's ranking of the various sub-types of happiness, along with his claims in regard `meaning', but this is in no way a `scientific' dispute. No study can be cited, nor no experiment performed, to prove Seligman right or wrong. His speculations come from the armchair, an armchair where he has no doubt read many secular and sacred texts, but an armchair nonetheless.
While the paragraphs above mention claims which are, at least at first blush, plausible, Seligman also makes claims that are immediately disputable. Several reviewers have rightly taken issue with his advice about child-rearing. His speculations regarding God appearing as the culmination of some evolution of the universe are similarly unconvincing. Strangely, Seligman wishes to bolster his claims with weak gestures towards `science' - as previously, his topics here are, prima facie, not amenable in any way to scientific investigation, so how `science' is meant to intervene is utterly unclear. He uses the word `science' as some unspecified ultimate authority, almost as if he were appealing to a deity himself.
Occupying a territory somewhere between his more outlandish claims and his accounts of the responses to questionnaires, there is his account of `signature strengths'. This is laid out as if it were a quasi-scientific classification, as per genus and species in biology. Actually, the system here is one of Seligman's own invention, one which might prove practically useful, but one which is underdetermined by the objective data - one could, with equal validity, classify personality traits in any number of ways - it remains to be seen whether Seligman's classificatory systems attracts more adherents than the poet W.B.Yeats' theory of 28 personality types, and whether it is incorporated into a practice that could be justifiably termed scientific. Furthermore, Seligman's advice to cultivate the one or two `signature strengths' is not a piece of advice based on any established science, but the practical suggestion of a thoughtful man.
In this book, the actual recounting of scientific findings is limited. The problematic assumptions behind these findings are barely discussed. The `self-improvement' fraction of the book is extensive, and oracular - it is also, in part, misleadingly disguised as being directly implied by the findings and, consequently, `authorized' by `science'. The vast bulk of the book is actually Professor Seligman's personal recommendations for living a better life. You might care to listen to him, or you might prefer to listen to Buddha, or your local pastor, or to Robert Nozick, or Fyodor Dostoevsky, or to your mum and dad, or, and this gets my vote for what it's worth, to as many sources of wisdom as time allows. ...more info
Off to a good start... Seligman's book shows that he's a beneficiary of Banker's Paradox: (p 186): the more you have, the more you can get. A successful professor, researcher, author and (icing on the cake) president of APA -- you have license to create, and Seligman uses it wisely.
I heard Seligman's APA Presidential address many years ago, where he openly questioned the claims of traditional psychotherapy. Some folks applauded; some actually walked out. Perhaps his greatest contribution is his questioning of traditional therapy, especially Freudian emphasis on childhood as the source of current ills.
Additionally, Seligman wisely deplores traditional psychology's emphasis on "what's wrong with you." That's probably why "life coaching" has become a bonanza. People want to talk about their lives but they don't want to be in a one-down position, as patients with a diagnosis.
That said, this book offers a simple introduction to what he calls Positive Psychology. Ironically, much of what Seligman offers echoes what we've already read in the unscientific pop psychology books that we find everywhere. Some, of course, were written by authors who have PhD degrees in psychology but no longer practice.
For example, Richard Carlson's "small stuff" books make points that are scientifically valid: Hashing over sad childhood memories leads to sad moods, which cause us to remember more sad memories, and so on. Wayne Dyer's books encourage us to express gratitude and forgiveness. So I think Seligman needs to be even more scientific to distinguish himself from the "self-help" section of a major bookstore. It can be done: Annie Paul's Cult of Personality is a fine recent example. Gilovich, Dawes and Russo have used research findings to create readable but helpful guides to decision-making.
Pop psych books are, by definition, aimed at a mass audience. Therefore, they appeal to people who feel some pain and want to change their lives. In contrast, it's hard to see who Seligman wants to reach. Scientifically trained readers (like me) will want to read original journal articles. And Seligman's prescriptions tend to be vague or targeted, as he suggests in the "love" chapter, to making great lives better. If you don't have a great life to start with, you can get pretty discouraged! A newly-divorced, newly-fired fifty-something reader won't find much help here.
In particular, the chapter on Signature Strengths seems quite valuable. (Skip the tests in the book - a big waste of paper - and go right to the Internet.) I took the website test and sure enough, I "owned" the results. But, I pondered, what next? I score off the chart on "love of learning." No surprise! But if I were searching for a career or a mate, how would I use this information?
Seligman's chapter on careers doesn't seem focused. He encourages us to distinguish a job, career and vocation. (Carolyn Myss -- definitely a non-scientist! -- makes the identical distinction in her Advanced Energy Anatomy Tapes.) And perhaps many people can find ways to transform mundane jobs, like the orderly in the hospital who brings pictures to patients.
But some people thrive on jobs that bring money, leaving them time and resources for pursuing their own personal interests and philanthropies outside work. Pollan and Levine make this point in Fire Your Boss. And some will be such misfits, and so desperate to take any job, they will have trouble applying this framework.
Seligman's discussion of work now seems quaint in the post-9/11 era, when choices are less abundant than before. He focuses on young lawyers who leave high-paying jobs, possibly because he researched or consulted with law firms. He suggests ways the firm could use the talents of these young, smart people.
But firms have little interest in keeping employees happy, despite years of organizational behavior theories. They want results! I'd have liked to see suggests for employees to create their own jobs, not passively wait for the firm to come up with solutions.
Additionally, signature strengths can't be discussed in isolation. Sure, a lawyer might spend weeks alone in the law library, but social intelligence informs him what's important, when to challenge an assignment, how to talk to the partners and associates and a whole lot more. Indeed I would argue that social intelligence might be a better predictor of success and happiness than, say, creativity. Business firms say they value creativity, but, in my experience, not with their dollars. Barry Staw of UC Berkeley wrote a provocative article on this very topic.
Finally, Seligman doesn't address differences of race, gender and class. I'd argue that a male whose signature strength involved creativity, learning, or wisdom might be valued more than a female with similar strengths, and therefore find it easier to deploy those strengths. If you're not a privileged white male, you'll need social intelligence more than any other quality.
Seligman illustrates many points with examples from his own family, like Wayne Dyer does. At times these examples seem like annoying intrusions. And he interacts with the elite members of academic psychology (very few women, I noticed!), to whom he has unique access. There's a fine line between reporting and name-dropping and at times he blurs the distinction.
Overall, you can't disregard Seligman's courage in presenting what many of his colleagues would dismiss as silly. Without his distinguished track record, he wouldn't be heard at all. Or, put another way, he has chosen to use his fame to promote a very worthwhile cause that can, eventually, help others.
Another great book by Dr. Seligman I have always enjoyed Dr. Seligmans work and am a big fan of Learned Optimism which probably should be read before this one or at least in addition to it.
People are confused and upset today for a lot of different reasons. Are you really happy. Read Dr. Seligmans book and find out what you can do about it.
Well Worth the Read Dr. Seligman is renowned in this area of study and his book is both insightful and inspirational. It gives a clear and helpful perspective on this things called happiness.
Paul Coleman, author of "The 30 Secrets of Happily Married Couples"...more info
So who can be against being positive? Professor, "no mind" embraces authentic happiness and authentic pessimism, unauthentic happiness and unauthentic pessimism--and all such things apart from your Buddha Nature. In saying what you have said, you have said exactly nothing. Herr Hitler apparently found great contentment in knowing his strengths and actualizing them. I think he was utterly convinced that what he was trying to do was for the good of all and profoundly positive....more info
cruel fake emotions one should be prohibited to sell garbage like this. good only for the pockets of the one who aimed at reaching poor souls and tested on poor dogs. SHAME ON YOU MR!!!...more info
Authentic Happiness? Not Hardly... Unfortunately, Martin Seligman's atheism permeates every page of this book making it not only offensive towards Christians like myself but wholly depressing as well. After the first chapter or two, I couldn't take any more of his propaganda and so I skipped to the end to see what his conclusions might be. Flatly refusing in a supernatural God who can intervene into his creation to produce miracles, Seligman's conclusion is that the natural result of evolution (which expands upon Darwin's original theory on natural selection and mutation of organisms to encompass society and institutions) will produce a perfect society free from poverty and crime that resembles "God." This utopia being the result of "win-win" scenarios is the only "God" that Seligman believes in, and his authentic happiness is rooted in part in this optimism about mankind's future society.
Needless to say, this mumbo jumbo (based on "scientific" studies like looking at someone's picture in a high-school yearbook to predict how long they would live) not only insulted my intelligence and my faith, but it made me angry that I had paid hard earned money for this book. I am taking it back to the store tomorrow so that Seligman and Simon & Schuster will not see a penny....more info
Two Steps Further Although I'm not a psychologist (but a dilettante one), in the course of life, I have encountered my share of obstacles. In trying to cope with them, I attended to traditional psychoanalysis for some time. It's OK, if you have the patience - and time and money - to dig in the depths of your infancy or the long development of your personality. Besides, all the psychoanalytic theory comes originally from the ideas of a man. A brilliant e insightful man, at that (others not so brilliant came afterwards). But his doctrine is punctuated with flaws, like the famous theory of imprisoned passions. There are many people who live with that firm belief and, what is worse, live up to them.
Theorists of cognitive-behavior school, on the other hand, have reached the next step. With a therapy that focus on specific problems (eg. a lost of a child), they teach you how to think - and act - accordingly, if you are not to become a mental sick. ("What's to gain in thinking about your loss?"). It, too, has its limitations, of course. Serious mental or personality disorders almost always require medication, as well as more specialized treatment.
With the positive psychology of Martin Seligman, the discipline has reached the zenith. Although not intended, its lessons have almost become a way to sanctification. Understand me. This is not a warning for you not to open his books. On the contrary. But it's difficult to put his teachings into action without some kind of personal transformation, be you a religious person or not. In the above mentioned lost of a child, for example, maybe Seligman would inspire you to care of other children in order to overcome your bad feelings. Difficult, but fulfilling when put into practice.
long live positive psychology For years psychology has been about problems. And imho not to much use for the average person, as psychology most of the time weren't better than your wise old aunt anyway (most of time worse, actually).
Basicly, psychology dealt with a lot of more or less welldefined problems, which it then thought about curing. But psychology had little to say about life as it presented itself to the average person. By dealing with the relationship between positive emotions and win-win situations, and speculating that we may be on the threshold of an era of win-win games and good-felling - this book comes along way in making psychology interesting and relevant for the people of the 21'st century....more info
happiness requires work! Although this book actually requires some real work, I think it definitely offers some wonderful methodologies to make you happier. ...more info
Eye-opening and thought-provoking, well written: a must read for anyone interested in the field! In this well-written, very accessible book, Martin Seligman points out that traditional psychology has always focused on the pathology of the human condition: illness and trauma. By understanding more about what makes people exceptionally well - happy, positive, optimistic - and recognizing that those who have these characteristics are more likely not only to have rewarding lives, but also to be successful in the world, Seligman believes that those who are naturally pessimistic or focused on the down-side can shift their perspective and become happier people.
While this is not a self-help book per se, it does offer tools - including a series of self-evaluations (also available at the Authentic Happiness website) - to help readers understand their strengths and how they can adjust their own viewpoint to become happier.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in positive psychology and the power of positive thinking. This book is grounded in solid research; it's not "fluffy" in any way!...more info
On-target wisdom for our time Martin Seligman's Positive Psychology is just what the doctor ordered! We've been waiting for a way to release ourselves from the hold of the painful past and to feel optimistic about the future, despite recession, wars, disappointing candidates, and all the other angst that visits the thoughtful. In refreshing, candid tones, he turns psychology on its head and points it in the right direction, one we can willingly follow. His work helps us find our own strengths, and even more significant, find meaning and purpose in our lives by applying those strengths. Happiness is the natural byproduct of this process, making the investment of time and thought necessary to read and apply the book a most rewarding investment indeed. If you're searching for satisfaction, whether in work or in love, this will be a generous, kindly, clear, and forgiving guide....more info
Pop Psychology by Pablum Reportage Reportage, or surveys of what groups of people believe, may be of interest, but then again not. Pablum, or reciting simplified ideas, similarly may or may not be of interest. This book is highly reductive reportage of pablum. It's very superficial, almost entirely vacuous, and in the end of little interest.
At least "How to Win Friends and Influence People," while highly artificial, stimulates ideas with which to work. Reportage of pablum does little, if anything, to suggest much of anything. The former at least makes a stab at improving skills, the latter basically suggests positive outlooks generally result in more positive outcomes. Not always, but usually. Think positively, and you'll likely see things in a positive light. People who think positively seem to be happier. At least, that's what most people report. Building on one's strengths and avoiding one's weaknesses also produces better outcomes. Positive emotions have evolved to motivate and guide us in win-win games of life. Is any of this not already intuitive? But is any of it really genuine? For example, bad things happen to good people, but giving the bad things a positive spin in order not to get in a funk about life seems a tad bit simplistic and very unrealistic.
Positive thinking is the "substance" of Seligman's "positive psychology," which purports "yet another revolutionary idea . . . by cultivating and nurturing traits we already possess -- including kindness, originality, humor, optimism and generosity." There's absolutely nothing revolutionary about any of this. And what 7 out of 10 people think does not cut it if we're one of the other 3. And who cares what other people think? If 7 out of 10 people report "happiness" at eating highly-processed, fat-laden foods, should I too? And spinning something horrific, unpleasant, unfortunate, etc. as positive seems entirely disengenuous and patently false.
There's nothing wrong about Seligman's perspective that thinking positively won't change. But life comes with a plethora of emotions, not all of which are "positive," and we have them because the "positive" amotions are not the only emotions we use to evaluate life. Thinking that harm, ill-health, death, etc. are positive stages in life isn't facing being human. Sorrow, anger, frustration, and the so-called "negative" emotions can, and do, serve a purpose, or nature would not have formed them in us. Camoflaging or concealing hurt, sorrow, regret, disappointment, etc. with a "positive" sheen just isn't "authentic," and I'd rather be authentic in the moment, than false over a lifetime. PASS....more info
Surprisingly Superficial... Having read several of Seligman's other books, I was quite surprised by just how unsubstantial this book is. Largely ancedotal in nature, it provides little in the way of useful information on just how to make the changes necessary to achieve happiness. The chapter on raising children is downright silly- since Seligman apparently has no scholarly foundation on this topic, he fills the chapter with anecdotes about his own experiences in dealing with his four kids. What's particularly funny about this is that at the very end of the book he thanks his SIX children - what happened to the other two, or the first wife for that matter. One might argue it's personal and therefore not relevant, but since he insists on dragging his second family into this book so much, why not talk about the first? Finally, the whole concept of achieving authentic happiness is probably a lot more meaningful to someone who spends New Year's eve in the Yucatan on someone else's dime, or who contemplates the meaning of it all sitting poolside in the Bahamas. The final pages on his newfound concept of God read like some silly science fiction short story. This book is a serious misstep from someone who needs to get a foot back in the real world....more info
Figure It Out Yourself I was disappointed by this book. While on the surface it looked like a great exercise, after reading it cover to cover and going through the exercises, I found that I came out not knowing anything new about myself.
Save your money and just go to the website and do the exercises. I think there are better "get to know thyself" books out there....more info
Intellectual & Insightful Despite the fact that the field of Positive Psychology is new to me, Seligman managed to utilized his extensive intellect of the field & delivered a readable & insightful book. Along with various tools at the book's website, 'Authentic Happiness' offered me a lucid perspective about the power of positive choices; it also altered the way I view myself & others in a positive manner....more info
Authentic happy -- and negative -- feelings Dr. Seligman's new book deserves its 5-star rating and best-seller status, for helpfulness in the wonderful tradition of the Handbook of Humanistic Psychology !! The "Authentic Happiness" book's web site for testing one's 'signature strengths' is also a real plus. The only leftover question is: What about the authenticity of negative feelings? Can anxiety, worry, and caution be authentic and even constructive parts of human experience too, as some psychologists in the book Optimism and Pessimism report. It seems that positive, humanistic psychology is helpful toward becoming authentically happy and self-actualized, as long as human negativity is also seen in its proper psychological perspective....more info
Joshua This book has been life changing for me. I strongly disagree with the author's stances on a few psychoanalytical subjects and view of the nature of God, but the vast majority of its content I believe is accurate and know has made my life happier. I personally recommend reading Aristotle's book(s) of philosophy before reading this one, I think doing so will help the reader get more out it. ...more info
Speculative + Unscientiific + Self-absorbed = Disappointing The biggest problem with Seligmanys book is it is not based on real science. His experiments consists of asking people whether they are happy. This is like asking a male teenager about his sex life. The results will not be that accurate.
The problem with surveys are many. People all have different criterion about what will qualify as happiness. It may be absence of pain for one and a state of bliss for another. Defining of these vague terms does not seem to be done very clearly in his work. Other problems that may result is that people often delude themselves about how happy they are or simply lie on the survey for whatever reason. In addition a question may be present to measure a trait but the wording of the question or the causal connection of the question to the trait is unsupported. In other words, just because this person answered this question this way does not mean the trait is necessarily reflected in that person. Thereys a lot of subjectivity and interpretation going on. A better way to do this is have physiological indicators that correlate to happiness. People would be hooked up to wires, put through different experiences, and their levels of happiness measured. However, all we get are questionnaires which really prove nothing. This means all the conclusions from experiments done from surveys (which I believe are all of them) must be looked at with a grain of salt and not taken as gospel. I would think the general conclusions such as married people are happier than single people are probably true, but I would be suspicious of the numbers telling what percentage are happy and how much happier they are.
Seligman has this happiness formula that he either simply created out of thin air or is based on his survey experiments. Since the validity of survey experiments are questionable, Iym skeptical about the formula as well.
He also talks about his life, how he met his wife, how he chose his profession, his various hobbies, his kids, how he met his colleagues. Other non fiction-writers do this too, especially yself-helpy authors. I wish they wouldnyt. It is irrelevant, uninteresting, indulgent and self-absorbed. I did not pick up the book to read their autobiography.
Seligman argues that you will be happier if you engage in more activities that creates yflowy and which you innately are good at. Basically it means you will be happier if you do stuff you like. Unfortunately, most of his insights do not go any deeper than this. He creates these 24 strengths that he found from combing through religions, cultures, and important texts in the pass. I hope most scientists would not do it this way. He divides and categorizes. People will find this interesting, because they like taking quizzes and tests to find out more about themselves. However, the real probative value is minimal. All the problems with surveys I mentioned above apply to the surveys measuring what amount of these 24 strengths you have. His work would be more valid to me if good scientific testing derived these 24 strengths rather than him collecting them.
His chapter on meaning and purpose which you think would intricately be linked to happiness has hardly anything to do with it and his more him talking about his colleagues and some get together. Get to the point! He has this gratitude exercise which is hoaky and sentimental.
In conclusion, the book is not really insightful or helpful and probably has nothing in it that will make anyone any happier. If by chance someone does become happier, I doubt this book will have anything to do with it. Like philosophers of old and Jung and Freud, he is speculating and making stuff up with the smallest backbone of science behind it. Speculation may be interesting and fun but is not science and it is usually not helpful. I really wanted to like this book and wanted scientific data on happiness so I may better understand it and achieve more of it, but I didnyt get that. Quite a disappointing book....more info
New-to-me research and perspectives While I can't say this book has profoundly changed me, it definitely has provided fuel for thought, and one I would recommend, particularly when he shares data about what is (e.g., that about 50% of our emotional 'set point' appears to be genetic) and what could be changed (e.g., some of his exercises that can increase positive feelings). Too many of the other authors that other reviewers have mentioned are touting their own thoughts, not necessarily research based. I liked his distinctions between the various domains of positive emotions (past, present, and future), and how they need to be looked at differently. I didn't care for his agnostic/atheist stance, but I found it easy to ignore. At times I found his habit of alternating between scholary writing and 'dear diary' style irritating; at other times interesting. I certainly would follow his recommendation to take the various tests online, vs on paper. I've found the online email newsletter to be of interest....more info
Good but Not to the Last Drop Martin Seligman is a pioneer in the Positive Psychology movement and I think his work has done a great deal of good, especially in attempting to establish a balance between the emphasis on mental illness and mental health. I think his teachings on fighting pessimism have also done a lot of good. I enjoyed and value his presentation on focussing on personal strengths and virtues, and how using these in various areas of your life can lead to personal happiness. His thesis suggests that you can accept your shortcomings and fashion your career and other personal choices around your strengths. I especially appreciate his differentiation between pleasures and gratifications, and how the latter support long-term happiness. If his work had stopped here I would have given him 4 stars, simply to account for the fact that some significant portions of what he claims, and he says so himself, are not fully based on scientific evidence, but on his own practical experience in his life. I reduced his rating to a three for the same reason that other reviewers rated him low. He ventures into an area where he is clearly not proficient - the existence of God. The chapter that includes this seems like a transcript of a conversation with the author of NonZero was slapped on at the end, and it provides poor argumentation for Seligman's position. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend it for the value of the first 90 percent of the book....more info
Seligman's Online Site Beats the Book I heard about this book on NPR a few months ago and checked out the companion website (authentichappiness.org) before buying the book. The site has 17 questionnaires on happiness, optimism, relationships, emotion, and Seligman's trademark Values in Action Signature Strengths. You can take these tests days or weeks apart and track your progress. It's an excellent site and does the job of prompting you to buy the book.
The book just isn't as strong as the site. As noted it other reviews it's part autobiography, part research report and part self-help book. You'll get formulas like H = S + C + V (H is enduring level of happiness, S is your set range, C is the circumstances of your life, v is voluntary variables) and lots of self-congratulatory stories about Seligman's friends, colleagues, wife and kids. Not that any of that's bad, but I have to wonder if his editor didn't ask him "Are you sure you want to include this?"
Single greatest reminder of something I knew but had forgotten: "You can't change your past, but you can change your perception of it."...more info
Benefitting from cruelty to animals? The fact that the author used electric shocks to torment dogs in order to do his research turns me off to his work completely. Perhaps he should study about "learned compassion" before telling us about "learned helplessness." How could one be happy - authentically or otherwise - when such cruel research was conducted to get to his opinions. Surely, in this day and age, and among civilized people, there was another way to form his conclusions... a way that did not include torturing dogs to get test results. Shame on you Dr....more info
Hardly Authentic Science Early on the author tells how he proved to concept of "learned helplessness" through his experiments where he administered electric shocks on caged dogs until they gave up and just lay there and whimpered.
I threw the book away at that point. This "scientist" shouldn't be rewarded for his senseless cruelty that proves nothing. We don't support your science, Herr Doctor Seligman!
Get the book from a library if you must, but don't reward him for his "experiments." It could have been your dog this moral idiot experimented on....more info
Happiness it is! I used this book for a course I took and it was very informative. I enjoyed learning about how to evaluate one's frame of mind and look at things in a more positive light. Using our core strengths is definitely a must, in order to live to our full potential....more info
This is a keeper! I've found this book to be enormously provocative and personally very helpful. I'm not a mental health professional but Seligman's ideas ring true for me. I've highly recommended it to all my relatives and friends! Two enthusiastic thumbs up!...more info
Dangerous Pop Psychology Claptrap Shame on Dr. Martin Seligman. Following in the footsteps of Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, he has abandoned legitimate science and moved into the touchy-feely realm of self-help psychology, by appealing to people's thirst for easy answers to difficult life problems. Having been down that road many times with the aforementioned authors, I suggest avoiding said road like the plague! Life does not offer easy answers. Changing attitudes and behavior is hard work, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a charlatan.
By contrast, Dr. Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Therapy, is a brilliant scientist - I repeat, SCIENTIST - who built a school of psychology one brick at a time - through careful research and testing. Dr. Beck NEVER gave people a false sense of optimism. Seligman on the other hand wants to reap the rewards and achieve celebrity by appealing to people's mania for easy answers....more info
Good point tough read The book is very good and has excellent points BUT the text is dense for a pop psychology book and only a Psychology student would understand some of the points made. ...more info
This book is a must read! Dr, Seligman's books are the best works I have ever read on this subject. Most of the books you read on this subject matter. Are usually filled with ancient philosophy or the author's own personal feelings on the subject. This book is based in clinical research. Dr Seligman has turned the World of Psychology inside out and wipes away long held beliefs. Unless your a grad student, the writing will challenge your vocabulary at times. I found myself with a dictionary a number of times. I am looking forward to Dr, Seligmans next book....more info
Test your happiness levels and learn what can inffluence them I had expected more scientific research supporting the book's thesis, than mere happiness surveys or tests about how people feel and their moods in specific situations. Soon I realized that my expectations could hardly be met, since fortunately happiness is one of the most subjective issues and although objective factors like wealth and health have an inffluence on it, every individual has his personal (maybe genetic or maybe learned) patterns or attitudes towards life.
The book contains all tests performed to many people from different countries so you can answer them yourself to rate your levels of optimism, happiness, etc., which is interesting per se. The shown results give interesting data about which factors have a greater inffluence on happiness, always showing that specific circumstances alter the results. For example, persons that have had a successful surgery in their recent past (which is a sign of illness) are happier than healthy ones. (One might wonder!)
The book explains happiness as coming from the past, the future and the present, for example satisfaction comes from our past; optimism, hope and meaning are oriented towards the future and living every moment intensely (physical joy coming from the senses) as well as engaging in activities that fulfill you (entering in a "flow" state) come from the present.
I had first skipped the section on kids, since having no children myself, I had no interest in the topic. After reading the rest of the book, I returned to this part and found it extremely interesting, indeed one of the best parts of the book. Maybe more experienced persons can refute the author's propositions, as apparently is the case, still I find this section worth reading and worth judging by yourself.
The last chapter is related to finding a meaning in your life, but it is full of tortuous philosophical arguments for a kind of religion without God. I do not believe it will help anybody to find a meaning in life and on top, the arguments are extremely difficult to follow. Better look for meaning somewhere else.
One of the books main thesis is that you can achieve happiness by doing things that make you happy. These are things that have a meaning or are significant to you or by "submerging" yourself into an activity to fall in a so called "flow" state. For people interested in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience I could probably recommend Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi's book on the topic, unfortunately I can't, because I have not read it yet (although I will, since his book is one of the most quoted by authors of totally different fields). Instead I will recommend First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently and its sequel Now, Discover Your Strengths. These "management style" books tell you why sticking to your strengths makes you happier than insisting on doing things in which you are not good at....more info
Extremely helpful and full of useful practical infomation I really enjoyed this book. I am a Counsellor and a Coach and have already had several opportunities to relay some of the information in it to clients of mine who in turn have found it concrete and easy to understand. There is a very good section on children that all parents would do well to read....more info
Right at the top! Definitely on my recommended book list. A must read for women in business.
The Success Coach for Women in Business
A Solid CD Program I'm always looking for CDs to listen during my communte. A friend suggested this program as having some good ideas.
It does. My criteria for a program being valuable is whether it has useful ideas. His theory about people having predestined ranges of happiness, with ability to move higher within a particular range makes sense. His suggestions about flow also make sense, as does his distinction between a gratification (instant) and a pleasure (must be earned).
Cognitive psychology, like the behaviorists beforehand, tends to be formulaic, implying that emothion follows action and behavior leads to feelings. I'm not so sure about dogged determination that formulas are the answer to everything. I also think that this program spends too much time plugging the various surveys available on the author's web site.
Still, this gets 4 stars because I got some good ideas and helpful suggestions....more info
And intelligent book that makes your more hopefull I think this is a long over due look at a subject (happiness) in the light of all the recent developments in cognitive psychology, neuroscience as well as traditional psychoterapy. And it's written in a language accessible to lay persons. Good read plus highly useful and practical insights into all aspects of life including realtionships. Recommned reading to all thinkers and non-thinkers too. ...more info
Not even one half complaint. I got the book just a few days after the purchase and it was in new condition as described. Perfect transaction....more info
A Study of Happiness "Authentic Happiness" is a readable and fascinating, but somewhat academic, treatise about happiness by Martin Seligman.
The book begins with a discussion of the nun study-a study that followed nuns throughout their lives and examined factors such as longevity and health. The study found the greatest predictive factor of successful aging and life satisfaction was optimism reflected in essays the young nuns wrote about their lives when they first took their religious vows.
Those who were happy and optimistic when young tended to remain happy, healthy, and successful. Those who expressed more pessimism in their essays tended to age less successfully and tended to have less life satisfaction.
Other researchers found similar early predictive value using yearbook photos.
Seligman writes: "...yearbook photos are a gold mine for Positive Psychology researchers. `Look at the birdie and smile,' the photographer tells you, and dutifully you put on your best smile. Some of us break into a radiant smile of authentic good cheer, while the rest of us pose politely. There are two kinds of smiles. The first, called a Duchenne smile (after its discoverer, Guillaume Duchenne) is genuine. The corners of your mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of your eyes crinkles (like crow's feet). The muscles that do this, the orbicularis oculi and the zygomticus, are exceedingly difficult to control voluntarily. The other smile, called the Pan American smile (after the flight attendants in television ads for the now-defunct airline), is inauthentic, with none of the Duchenne features. Indeed, it is probably more related to the rictus that lower primates display when frightened than it is to happiness."
Follow-up studies of people with Duchenne yearbook photos showed that they tended to have more personal life satisfaction into their thirties, forties, and fifties than did people without Duchenne smiles.
Seligman tells us that "external circumstances" only have a minimal effect ("no more than between 8 and 15 percent of the variance...") on happiness. Here are a few circumstances Seligman says tend to correspond slightly with happiness:
1) Living in a wealthy democracy, rather than a poor dictatorship. Unsurprisingly, this has a relatively strong effect on happiness relative to other circumstances. Extreme poverty and dictators are a real bummer.
2) Marriage. Married people tend to be happier. "Marriage is a more potent happiness factor than satisfaction with job, or finances, or community," Seligman writes.
3) Rich social network. Seligman points out that this might not be a causal relationship. In other words, happy people might tend to build richer social networks more naturally.
What about staying healthy, getting a good education, and making more money? Seligman says none of these are highly correlated with happiness.
Also, it's a person's subjective feeling of health, not objective health that matters for determining happiness. Some people facing extreme illness remain happy, while other people in relatively good health feel they aren't healthy and are depressed about it. Of course, extreme health problems have a tendency to drag us down.
I found the relationship between money and happiness fascinating. It appears winning the lottery or extreme wealth won't make a person happy.
Seligman writes: "In very poor nations, where poverty threatens life itself, being rich does predict greater well-being. In wealthier nations, however, where almost everyone has a basic safety net, increases in wealth have negligible effects on personal happiness. In the United States, the very poor are lower in happiness, but once a person is just barely comfortable, added money adds little or no happiness. Even the fabulously rich-the Forbes 100, with an average net worth of over $125 million dollars-are only slightly happier than the average American."
(I read an article about Jean Chatzky's new book in which people were asked about their overall life happiness. Relative to income, once $50,000 is hit, happiness levels off. If you search google for "happiness money $50,000" you can find the full article online.)
However, a person's obsession with making more money can lead to less happiness. Seligman writes: "...people who value money more than other goals are less satisfied with their income and with their lives as a whole ..."
While external circumstances account for less than 15% of a person's happiness, Seligman tells us that genetic disposition plays a significant role, probably contributing over 50% to a person's characteristics.
So, why do people become unduly pessimistic or unhappy? Seligman argues that negative emotions prepare us for conflicts or for win-lose games. In contrast, positive emotions help us be more creative and helps us to build social and intellectual resources. Happiness prepares us for win-win situations.
Seligman writes: "When we are happy, we are less self-focused, we like others more, and we want to share our good fortune even with strangers. When we are down, though, we become distrustful, turn inward, and focus defensively on our own needs. Looking out for number one is more characteristic of sadness than of well-being."
In addition to providing us with an understanding of happiness, "Authentic Happiness" provides several tests for evaluating our own happiness. Many of the tests are available online at AuthenticHappiness.org.
Seligman also offers a prescription for finding more happiness. He suggests that people are happiest when they're using their signature strengths. Studying major religions and philosophies, Seligman has identified six admirable and largely culturally-independent strengths. They are:
* Wisdom and Knowledge * Courage * Love and Humanity * Justice * Temperance * Spirituality and Transcendence
Seligman says that if we discover a calling, something that links to a greater good, which utilizes our signature strengths, we tend to be happy. The book also has practical advicee for using your knowledge of happiness to improve marriages and help children become more future-oriented.
I highly recommend "Authentic Happiness" to readers who are interested in studying happiness, who want to test their own level of happiness, or who want to attain richer, more fulfilling lives....more info
Another valuable self-improvement manual by Seligman As a psychologist myself and a big fan of Seligman's previous self-help work, Learned Optimism, I was eager to read this book. Authentic Happiness is based on the Positive Psychology movement, or the idea that psychologists should be helping people feel more happy rather than simply less unhappy. Well-respected psychologist Seligman has a gift for taking years of psychology research and breaking it down into readable yet still compelling evidence to support his theories. He begins with reviewing the components that can affect happiness and how we can work to change these factors with respect to our past, present, and future.
The meat of the book, however, lies in Seligman's notion of Signature Strengths, which he views as keys to more lasting fulfillment. Seligman focuses in particular on how to enhance your signature strengths in the areas of love, work, and raising your children (based on many examples from his own child-rearing experiences). He concludes the book by shifting into a slightly more spiritual perspective to discuss attaining a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Seligman is practical in addition to being philosophical, and thus the book contains many self-tests (all of which can also be found on his web site) as well as plenty of practical advice. Overall, however, this book didn't quite resonate with me in the same way that Learned Happiness did, and although I've frequently recommended Learned Happiness to my clients, I see this newer work as being appropriate for a more limited audience. Still, for anyone who chooses to read this book, Seligman's engaging writing style is sure to make it worth your while, and those who are truly motivated to pursue happiness in their lives are likely to benefit enormously....more info
prescription for a happy, fulfilled life After wide-reaching research across time and cultures, Martin Seligman has identified six virtues: Wisdom and learning, courage, love and humanity, justice, temperance, spirituality and transcendence. In "Authentic Happiness" he describes how to strengthen your character in order to develop these life-affirming virtues. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, which revolves around a "talking cure" and seeks to identify traumatic events in a person's past, and even to assign blame, Seligman's Positive Psychology focuses on developing your "signature strengths", and on learning what you will find genuinely fulfilling in life.
Using personal anecdotes in addition to well-documented (and in some cases, surprising) studies, he demonstrates how we can avoid being trapped by the downward spiral of negativity and depression. This is a remarkable book that defies classification. It should not be limited to the "self-help" genre, as Seligman goes far beyond that to introduce a new way of thinking about individual potential. Highly recommended....more info
Most well researched self help book Martin, a well respected psychologist and researcher offers an enlightening book that has qualities of a self help book yet is very well researched. At the same time it is very personal. I would have liked it better if he didn't evangelize at the end, it all works from a secular point of view too, and this ending was a surprise. Not enough to negate the rest of this fine book. ...more info
I agree 100% with the review by Mr. Coffee A gentleman named Mr. Coffee wrote an excellent review here citing information by the great Dr. Denis Waitley and discusing why optimism is a tonic while pessimism is a poisin.
He also cited a review posted here by someone who said that pessimism can be good and that review actually got 34 votes. Mr. Coffee goes on to state that no doubt all 34 votes where from the reviewer who srote it. I couldn't agree more! Who could possibly think that pessimism is anything more than a illness that must be cured.
Great book by Dr. Seligman. I also recommend Dr. Waitley. And whoever wrote that review about pessimism being good for you, I submit that you need these books more than anybody!...more info
Be Positive It Works Every Time ! Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman is a book that tries to lead you on the road to happiness. According to the author happy people are healthier more creative and happily married than their unhappy counterparts. It true most studies indicate that. You're not going to fix weaknesses, it's better to incorporating your strengths like originality, humor and generosity into your everyday interactions with people according to Seligman. Some people just need a attitude adjustment. Kindness and faith are vital ingredients for a happy life.
After you read this book it may be a good time to consider reading my book entitled "The Enlightenment, What God Told Me After One Million Prayers, a Message for Everyone" (See Profile Above)
A true "how-to" book for happiness Much research has shown that people have a set range of happiness, and they're likely to stay within this set range throughout their lives, returning to it over and over again. Dr. Seligman proposes a slightly different way of looking at this situation and represents it with the following equation: H = S + C + V where H is your overall current happiness, S is your set range, C is the influence of current life events, and V represents those factors under your voluntary control. His idea is that while you can't really change your set range, you can set yourself up to experience the highest part of that range a much greater portion of the time.
He believes you can do this by altering how you view your life (past, present and future), using psychological strategies to make your life more pleasant, and discovering and using to the fullest what he calls your "signature strengths."
The research in this book is quite methodical and solid. Seligman systematically lays out the details of dozens of studies (at least!) and decades of research by luminaries and students alike. This is a thick book. Not dry, thankfully, and not inaccessible, but definitely thick. It isn't something you can skim in two hours and be done with; it takes some time to read through, digest, and absorb. This is not a bad thing. Everything is explained with care and attention to detail.
This is an immensely practical and helpful book. It doesn't just talk about happiness; it provides concrete strategies backed up by thorough research that can help you to improve your happiness and your satisfaction with your life. This truly is a how-to book on happiness. The research is solid, careful, and well-thought-out. Dr. Seligman, a self-avowed pessimist, makes it easy for non-optimists to see and understand his points; unlike many optimists he doesn't boil it down to a simple "cheer up!" but instead gives us critical evidence and practical strategies. This is a courageous, in-depth, thoughtful, and highly helpful book for just about anyone from a brilliant researcher. I have no hesitation in recommending it, and will probably be passing it on to several people I know....more info