At Coaching Toward Happiness and at MentorCoach, we
write about the leading figures in positive psychology
and in coaching and talk to them in live
teleconference interviews. We interviewed
Chris three times. His new book is exceptional.
1. It's The Best.
Okay. This is arguably the best introduction to positive
psychology ever written. It ties all the key issues
together in a compelling way. It provides understanding,
depth, rich resources, and it's fun to read.
2. It's Reader-Friendly.
It's a large trade paperback, 314 pages. Rich with fascinating
detail, web sites, movies, overarching explanations of research.
Bad writing makes the reader feel dumb. Good writing makes the
reader feel smart. Chris makes you feel smart.
3. If You Teach.
If you teach positive psychology, you have to use this book. Listen
to the founder of the field: "This is the definitive textbook in
positive psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best
textbook on any subject that I have ever read... (It) both made me
laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." -- Martin E. P. Seligman
4. For the Bright Professional
It's perfect for the curious, bright professional who's new to
positive psychology and wants to quickly get up to speed. If
you understand The Primer, you'll be ahead of 99% of the people
in your field.
5. It Sounds Like Chris.
Conversational and accessible. It reads like he talks. And it
reads like a conversation with someone who's twice won the
honor of best teacher at the University of Michigan.
6. It Has Tiny Throw-Away Nuggets.
The words "positive psychology" were first used, not by Seligman
in 1998, but Maslow in 1954. "...The smiley-face icon was created
for a life insurance company in 1964 by a Massachusetts graphic
artist, who was paid $45 for his creation. Neither the insurance
company nor artist Harvey Bell copyrighted the symbol which
has--perhaps as a result--become extremely popular."
7. The Songs.
Each chapter ends with films and dozens of Chris' favorite, relevant
songs: "Be True to Your School" (Beach Boys); "Get Up, Stand Up"
(Bob Marley & the Wailers), "To Sir, With Love" (LuLu); "I Feel
Good" (James Brown); "My Sweet Lord" (George Harrison). Walking
on Sunshine" (Katrina & the Waves). He admits to being a baby
boomer and knows it shows in his song choice. He also believes
a relevant song is a great way to signal the beginning of a class.
8. Personal Usefulness.
You might even find it personally useful. Of the thousands of
suggestions for increasing happiness that have been proffered
in the last fifty years, indeed over the centuries, which have
so far been empirically examined? It goes beyond the headlines
and looks in detail at what the research might really mean for what
9. It's Unpretentious.
In 2003, I sometimes taught a teleclass from Chris' office at Penn.
His entire office consisted of a computer, a bare floor, one table
and chair, and a bookshelf with 15 scattered books. Nothing to
indicate, for example, that he was among the world's 100 most
frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years.
The Primer is similarly down to earth. Name one other famous academic
who would write this paragraph:
"...some skeptics still believe that positive psychologists miss
the "obvious" point that life is tragic... I disagree but will
not belabor the point except to note that tragedy admits to
gradations. Even if everything sucks, some things suck more
than others, an irrefutable fact given how people actually behave
if not what they say....Whether we label ...preferred circumstances
"positive" or "less sucky" then becomes a matter of semantics (P. 13)."
10. Find the Tenth Reason Yourself.
Chris was the lead creator of the VIA Survey of Signature Strengths,
a central positive psychology assessment. More than 300,000 people
from throughout the world have taken it. Who better to write about the
importance of individual strengths and values than the world's leading
expert? This is just one part of this book. You'll be able to find
many more than the "tenth" reason when you read him.
And, even better, if you'd also like to *listen* to him talk about
his work, you can. There are three free online interviews--two also
available by telephone--in the archive of the Coaching Toward
Happiness eNewsletter. Amazon's ground rules preclude my telling
you the url but if you google ["Coaching Toward Happiness" + Chris Peterson], you'll find them.