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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Paperback – 1 Jan 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books USA; Reprint edition (1 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078393
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078394
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" Vaulted me out of my funk. . . . So, fellow moderate pessimists, go buy this book."
-- "The New York Times Book Review"
" One of the most important books of the century--an absolute must-read for all persons interested in genuinely understanding and helping our fellow human beings."
-- Dr. Robert H. Schuller, author of "Tough Times Never Last," "But Tough People Do"
" Dr. Seligman makes an optimistic case for optimism: you can learn it, you can measure it, you can teach it, and you will be healthier and happier for it."
-- Dr. Aaron T. Beck, author of "Love is Never Enough"
" A system for reforming the most entrenched pessimist." -- "Philadelphia Daily News"

"Vaulted me out of my funk. . . . So, fellow moderate pessimists, go buy this book." -- "The New York Times Book Review""One of the most important books of the century--an absolute must-read for all persons interested in genuinely understanding and helping our fellow human beings." --Dr. Robert H. Schuller, author of "Tough Times Never Last, ""But Tough People Do" "Dr. Seligman makes an optimistic case for optimism: you can learn it, you can measure it, you can teach it, and you will be healthier and happier for it." --Dr. Aaron T. Beck, author of "Love is Never Enough""A system for reforming the most entrenched pessimist." --"Philadelphia Daily News"

Vaulted me out of my funk. . . . So, fellow moderate pessimists, go buy this book." "The New York Times Book Review" One of the most important books of the century--an absolute must-read for all persons interested in genuinely understanding and helping our fellow human beings. Dr. Robert H. Schuller, author of "Tough Times Never Last, " "But Tough People Do" "Dr. Seligman makes an optimistic case for optimism: you can learn it, you can measure it, you can teach it, and you will be healthier and happier for it. Dr. Aaron T. Beck, author of "Love is Never Enough" A system for reforming the most entrenched pessimist. "Philadelphia Daily News""

About the Author

Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., the Robert A. Fox Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, works on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, ethnopolitical conflict, and optimism. Dr. Seligman's work has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He is the director of the Positive Psychology Network and scientific director of Foresight, Inc., a testing company that predicts success in various walks of life.
He was for fourteen years the Director of the Clinical Training Program of the University of Pennsylvania and was named a "Distinguished Practitioner" by the National Academies of Practice. In 1995, he received the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's award for "Distinguished Contributions to Science and Practice."


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Unlike most self help books Seligman's work is based on actual research. I would really recommend this book for people who are sick of the positive thinking movement but would still like some of the benefits. From the reviews here you might think this is just another Polyanna book. Seligman does not say that optimistic people are superior to others. In fact, he says that pessimists are more realistic. Optimists make good sales people, but you wouldn't want them to be elevator inspectors.
Seligman advocates mature optimism. Basically the higher the cost of being wrong, the more it pays to be a pessimist. With that said there are a host of benefits to be had from optimism.
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Format: Paperback
The important message of this book is that optimistic thinking is a very important skill that can be learned. But what is meant by optimistic thinking in this book? Well, to make sense of what happens in their life, people tend to attach explanations to events after they have happened. This process is usually referred to as 'attribution'. Seligman describes how people differ in their explanatory style, in other words, they have different 'habits of explanation'. He distinguishes three dimensions of attribution: 1) permanence (is the cause of the event permanent or temporary?), 2) pervasiveness (is the cause of the event general or specific?), and 3) personalization (is the cause of the even internal -personal- or external - caused by the sitution?). The difference between optimists and pessimist can be described using these three dimensions.
Pessimists tend to believe that negative things that happen to them 1) will have a long-lasting effect, 2) will affect many situations, and 3) are caused by themselves. Also, when something positive happens the pessimist tends to explains this negatively by 1) thinking this is just temporary success, 2) won't help him in other situations than this specific one, 3) and is caused by the situation more than by his own competence.
Optimists explain situations exactly the other way around. They tend to think that negative events 1) are just a temporary setback, 2) only affect thìs situation, and 3) are externally caused (not their own fault). Positive things are also explained positively by the optimistic thinker. He will think 1) that the success will last long, 2) that the success will positively affect other situations as well, and 3) that the success was caused by his own doing.
What's the relevance of this?
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Format: Paperback
While many books explain the personal benefits of "positive thinking", repeating positive mantras, and taking positive action, this book is critically important because it shows you just how much advantage an optimistic outlook provides. The evidence is so overwhelming that I found myself realizing that everyone needs to adopt more optimism in the important areas of their life. I liked the self-administered tests in the book for checking my optimism, that of my wife, and that of my children. I have always prided myself on being realistic, and still value that quality. What I learned is that being realistic should be combined with feeling optimistic about creating ways to improve the realistic situation as I understand it. That distinction is one that has been critically valuable in my life. I strongly recommend that you read this book, and share it with people you care about. For an organization, thinking about these issues could be a critical advantage.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Although not that well known in this country, Martin Seligman is widely regarded as one of the most eminent and insightful psychologists of the past 100 years.

Learned Optimism shows how for many people it is the way they perceive and respond to events around them that can make the difference between a happy, successful life or a difficult one dotted with depressive episodes. He explores the reasons for this and develops alternative approaches that appear to work well.

This CD starts with a simple test to assess 6 different scales of optimism / pessimism and to create a score for each of these scales. This indicates how individuals are likely to respond to particular types of events and adversities, and how that response can be constructive or damaging. This straightaway highlights areas where we may need to be careful in our everyday lives, and then goes on to look at alternative ways to interpret and react to events.

Seligman takes the view that the majority of depressive episodes, procrastination and under-achievement stem not from messed up brain-chemistry or unhappy childhoods, but from the ways we have learned to interpret and react to everyday adversity. He provides a robust method for reframing these events and ensuring any negative effect is short-lived, this in turn leads to improved personal performance and higher self-esteem and happiness. The main message is that there is a simple method for responding more constructively to negative events, and if this is practised, it soon becomes a learned behaviour that no longer requires conscious effort.

The upshot of it is that individuals will be happier, more successful and experience fewer if any depressive episodes.
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