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Customer Review

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that shows happiness should not just be your goal, but your duty..., 23 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book having read the chapter about it in Tom Butler-Bowdon's 50 Psychology Classics. I had never heard of 'positive psychology' before, but its aims - to increase the happiness of 'normal' people, rather than cure the psychoses of 'ill' people - has definite appeal.

Authentic Happiness suggests that happiness should not just be a goal in itself merely because it makes us feel good - but also that it has an evolutionary advantage. I've long been aware of the way in which as negative mood can aid evaluation of a situation, but I'd never thought that when we are happy we would have the advantages of creating an expansive, tolerant and creative mindset. In short these positive feelings maximise the social, intellectual and physical benefits life has to offer.

But how do we achieve such happiness? As ever, that's the million dollar question. One of the answers is through optimum experiences which Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi calls 'flow'. Indeed it is one of Seligman's characteristic flourishes he relates the story in which he rescues Csikzentmihalyi. Make no mistake, there's a lot of information to digest in Authentic Happiness, indeed I'm looking forward to re-reading it to get even more out of it. Yet while it is academically thorough, Seligman adds personal touches which make the book much more easy to digest.

The later stages of the book will be of particular interest if you have children. Fittingly Seligman has a optimistic view of human nature. He has his own ideas of how we can achieve transcendence and how we can all part in the evolution of the human race, but you'll have to read "Authentic Happiness" to find out what these are.

I can't say I agreed with everything that Seligman had to say - and I'm not really one that enjoys filling out questionnaires, though if you are you'll be in form heaven here - but this is one of the books I find myself recommending to other people and can see myself returning to again and again.
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