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Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being - and How To Achieve Them Paperback – 5 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857885694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857885699
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Martin Seligman is the inventor of positive psychology and a major figure in the well-being movement. This makes him a significant figure in world culture. A happier society requires us to attend much more to the quality of our inner life, and to proven methods for improving it. This is important stuff.' Professor Richard Layard, Observer

'I was immediately chamred. Seligman's intentions are admirable and exciting. He is consumed by his mission, which is to take psychology on from its traditional role in alleviating misery, and broaden it into positive psychology - the entirely different art of teaching us how to be wiser, stronger, more generous to others, more self-disciplined, and more capable of dealing with difficulty and rejection. The book is full of nuggets about why positive approaches work. Admirable and exciting.' Sunday Times

'Since Martin Seligman launched the positive psychology movement more than a decade ago, his methods have attracted a global following, including David Cameron... The rise of 'positive psychology' has been all but unstoppable, with Seligman's book Authentic Happiness its key text... Now, in his book Flourish, happiness is out and well-being, or 'flourishing', is in.' Psychologies

'His most personal and boldest book so far... Seligman's book is a paean to applied science, a blue-print for how to translate empirical evidence from the laboratory to the real world... Unlike many authors, he offers detailed and tested solutions as well as compelling arguments for how societies can aim to raise the amount of positive emotion, meaning, good relationships and accomplishment in their citizens... Everyone stands to benefit from his initiatives. If they are happy, flourishing or enjoying well-being, people won't care about the labels that researchers attach to those good feelings.' Nature

'Seligman describes several exercises that are easy to do and result in a significant and lasting effect on people's self-reported sense of well-being. (For example, each night, write down three things that went well that day and why.) Coming up with these exercises is high art - the description of their effect is compelling and left me promising myself to do them... readers who persevere will remember many of the points that Seligman made in this book - and will act on at least some of them... Some of his insights could really lead to greater well-being for society as a whole.' Huffington Post

'Martin Seligman did the world a service by focusing his profession's attention away from correcting negatives and towards promoting positives...flourishing is to be welcomed.' --Financial Times

"Martin Seligman did the world a service by focusing his profession s attention away from correcting negatives and towards promoting positives...flourishing is to be welcomed."
Financial Times

"Martin Seligman is the inventor of positive psychology and a major figure in the well-being movement. This makes him a significant figure in world culture... this is important... Full of fascinating detail of how this extraordinary venture is developing"
Richard Layard, for Observer

"I was immediately charmed... Seligman's intentions are admirable and exciting. He is consumed by his mission, which is to take psychology on from its traditional role in alleviating misery, and broaden it into positive psychology -- the entirely different art of teaching us how to be wiser, stronger, more generous to others, more self-disciplined, and more capable of dealing with difficulty and rejection... The book is full of nuggets about why positive approaches work."
The Sunday Times

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About the Author

Martin Seligman PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Positive Psychology Network, gave the Centennial address to the British Psychological Society in 2002 and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Cardiff. A former President of the American Psychological Association, he has written 20 books including the bestselling Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness and in 2009 was awarded the British Academy s Wiley Prize in Psychology. He is widely considered the pre-eminent expert on applied psychology in the world.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER on 30 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Seligman was the first to move psychology from focusing exhaustively on what's wrong to looking at what's right. And that changed everything.

That change of focus may seem obvious now but it was actually a stroke of genius because it's hard - almost impossible - to create good from bad. Could anyone learn to play a musical instrument well from bad musicians, for example? However, given psychology's obsession up until then on what was wrong, Seligman's amazing accomplishment - creating an important branch that studies what is right - is akin to an instant U-turn by Allure of the Seas, currently the world's largest cruise ship (the size of a city block 16 floors high).

"Flourish" is not a repeat of his previous books as some appear to claim. Actually it represents Seligman's rejection of happiness as THE measurement of what's right. He explains this at length here but the essence seems to be that he has recognised the shallowness of measuring happiness, especially since it is so subjective but also because mood plays such a large part in happiness. He now argues that well-being is far more important.

Why only three stars? I felt there was really only a booklet worth of value in this book which, like so many written by academics (whose jobs can require them to "publish or die"), has a lot of "filler" (which can be entertaining if in the right mood for it). I scanned through this book to get the bones, the few gems of wisdom, which can probably be summarised by his definition, in an early chapter, of the five elements of well-being which are:

1. positive emotion (the pleasant life - subjective and coincidentally also important for happiness),
2.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By CK on 19 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
"This book will help you flourish" is the claim on the back of the book. I have to disagree - there is very little here that is of practical use. Out of the 241 pages of content there are probably 10 pages of exercises/advice for the reader. The rest is about the history of positive psychology and the various people that developed it. An accurate subtitle would be "the adventures of Martin Seligman."

The book describes the ways in which positive psychology is being used to help soldiers (56 pages or 23% of the book is on this topic), schools, health, the various university degrees now available in positive psychology and different experiments highlighting the benefits of it. There is even a section on using positive psychology to help astronauts!

This may be of interest to some readers but it definitely doesn't help readers improve their lives and it isn't what the book claims to be.

If you're looking for a practical guide to positive psychology, this isnt it. If you're looking for a history of Martin Seligman's work on positive psychology then this is the book for you.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Hein Zegers on 2 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Positive psychology has come to be defined as "the scientific study of what enables individuals and communities to thrive". "Flourish" explores this concept of thriving. The last 15 years, Martin Seligman has been one of the major driving forces behind positive psychology. He has authored influential bestsellers such as Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (1991) and Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment (2002). Now, again about a decade later, Seligman writes a new account of what he has been teaching and telling on conferences lately. He does so in a somewhat peculiar mix: a) a manifesto for a broad science of well-being, b) accounts of positive psychology research and practice, interlaced with c) a backstage history of positive psychology.

a) First of all, "Flourish" is a manifesto for a science of well-being. Seligman departs from his earlier "Authentic Happiness" concept and posits the broader topic of "well-being". "Authentic happiness" comprised three components: 1. positive emotion (feeling good), 2. engagement (flow) and 3. meaning. Seligman now adds two more components of well-being: 4. positive relationships and 5. accomplishment. To my humble opinion, the addition of 4. positive relationships is long overdue, whereas the addition of 5. accomplishment may turn out to be controversial.

b) Next, this book gives several examples of well-being research. Don't expect yet another pop self-help peptalk of "happiness in 5 easy steps".
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By K. Walton on 8 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'This book will help you flourish' the dust jacket claims in big letters on the back. Actually it won't. 'A new understanding of happiness and well-being and how to achieve them'. No it isn't. Don't judge a book by its cover the saying says: it's a good read, although Seligman does tend to wander off topic a bit, for example when he goes on about Lisa's dancing or explains why Ehrenreich is wrong. An editor would have been good.
But how does knowing the US army has a resilience programme and big database of its test results help me flourish? How does a Seligman-centric history of well-being research help me flourish? I bought the book to learn well-being ideas and techniques - what works and what does not, and there's very little of these.
But it's a good read, and Seligman has many interesting ideas in his field - such as what is our legacy to the world going to be now wealthy countries have wealth enough to go round - can we copy Florence and leave something (well-being, rather than beauty) that will last for future generations?
I hope Seligman will ensure future editions have an honest dust jacket and preface that describe what the book is actually about, rather than what the publisher thinks will sell it. But don't buy it for the cover!
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