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on 8 August 2017
will recommended to friend
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on 9 June 2017
IT has changed my life
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on 26 April 2017
there's something very profound in this book that's worth understanding. I often quote it in discussions now.
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on 7 February 2013
I'm not sure how much I can add much that hasn't already been said.

The Dr has spent his entire working life work in psychology, seemingly in the area of optimism. He has padded out most of the book with memoirs, almost, of how he reached his conclusions - the co-workers, the tests, the experiments (including using electric shocks on various lab animals, or not, in order to train them to be helpless, or not) - it covers 3 decades of his career.

Large portions of it read like a history of science book, and it's often quite dry. The book could have been a quarter of the length really.

But when he does offer something practical for someone looking to improve some aspect of themselves it gets good, in my opinion. The first really useful part (ch3?) is a fairly long questionnaire to determine your levels of optimism - a proper one with dozens of questions that you can't manipulate the outcome of. I turned out to be moderately pessimistic, which I could have guessed, but I feel it was properly determined.

About five chapters discussing how he conducted his research follow, yawn. But it does all prove the book is based on real science - experiments, measurements, observation, and therefore credible evidence. Not BS with an expectation that you will just believe what he says.

He suggests people who are pessimistic tend to assume that they have little control over all events in their lives, and look for evidence to support their view - i.e. they worry. Optimistic people tend to assume a degree of control, and don't place blame somewhere and leave it at that. i.e pessimistic people have learned, through experience, to be the way they are. Further more he suggests optimism can be learned through interpreting day to day events differently.

Then begins with what I actually bought the book to find out. And what he describes seems to be reframing, as found in NLP. Properly tested by science however. He gives a five step method of using it to rework day to day issues and interactions, though it is equally applicable to old problems, bad memories and maybe whole life strategies.

He suggests you practice using use this method with pen and paper five times over two days to get it fixed in your mind - after which it starts to become second nature. I find myself applying it in my head to get the best out of many situations daily.

Time will tell whether this book changes my life, but two months after reading it I'm still working with it. I see that there is always more than one aspect to any event or human interaction than the obvious negative one, which gives me more leeway.
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on 26 November 2008
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. It is certainly a refreshing alternative to the medical approach and seems to work very well indeed.

This audiobook consists of 2 CDs and is an abridged version of his book Learned Optimism. It is good for getting the gist of his ideas or to listen to while driving or when out and about with your iPod. However, for maximum benefit and depth, it is well worth getting the book edition also.

I'm only giving this edition 4 stars as I find his co-presenter somewhat irritating and it is a little stodgy at times. However, Seligman's ideas and insight are profound, invaluable and potentially life-changing. Highly commended for anyone who feels they want to improve their personal performance at work or at home, or who experiences depression in any of its many guises.
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on 14 October 2013
I can only comment on the parts that I have gotten through, which is about halfway so far.
thoroughly enjoying the insights into optimism vs pessimism. Although some points seem logical and simple, it is often these points which are overlooked and do need to be stated to ensure a complete understanding of the subject. the work ties in nicely with a previous purchase - 'Born liars: why we can't live without deceit' as the relationship between optimism and self deception as well as pessimism and realism are highlighted again.
Working in a secondary school as a behaviour and pastoral manager, challenging students on the way they think about situations and themselves is a daily occurrence. I have first hand experience at observing the difference an optimistic or pessimistic disposition makes to a students grades and future; and firmly believe that character development and psychological self-awareness are becoming essential subjects for students to develop. This book is an excellent starting point for anyone to understand how their mind filters reality. I have high hopes for the second half of this book.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2010
This book, published in 1990, by Martin Seligman, is very useful for measuring how we feel about ourselves, and the dangers of negative thinking. I know that there are a lot of psychotherapy books, mainly American, on `the power of positive thinking'. The problem is one of practicality. It can be the equivalent of telling someone who is severely depressed to pull themselves together, analogous to the problem addressed in James 2: 15, `if a certain one says: Go in peace, keep warm and well fed, but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it?'
Ask yourself, what do you say to yourself when you experience the failures and disappointments that inevitably will befall even the most fortunate?
Dr Seligman well describes all the lessons we learn in childhood and adolescence as the means we draw upon to explain our setbacks to ourselves, as opposed to others. For some, the automatic response to any setback is: `It's just me. I cannot change. I will always be a failure.' But others are able to say and believe: `It was just the circumstances, a one-off. Besides, there's much more to life.'
The book reminds us we need to stop automatically assuming guilt, seeing the direst possible implications in every setback; how, in short, to be optimistic. This is not just a plausible theory, we are shown real life examples that document the effect of optimism on quality of life, and specific exercises to help break the old habits of pessimism. Are you a 'Pooh' or a 'Piglet'?
'The wind was against them now, and Piglet's ears streamed behind him like banners as he fought his way along, and it seemed hours before he got them into the shelter of the Hundred Acre Wood and they stood up straight again, to listen, a little nervously, to the roaring of the gale among the tree-tops.
"Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Supposing it didn't", said Pooh after careful thought'.
(A A Milne The House at Pooh Corner, (1928)
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on 15 June 2013
I am a very demanding reader - I need to read books that tell me, in very practical terms, "how to do it! But, also, it needs to be scientifically supported so that my concerns about "can I trust it" are met.
Learned Optimism gets five stars for fully satisfying my demands.
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on 13 February 1999
This book is tremendous in teaching you how to circumvent catastrophic thinking. The author's reasearch was fascinating to me, but some may feel the middle of the book is a little much. I think that the author was just so excited about his research and wanted to assist the reader in debunking many of the myths of Psychology. I would not classify this book as a self-help book. It is written by a professional Psychologist and is an examination of proven and unproven cognitive and behaviorial techniques. If you know nothing about Psychology, but feel that you need help, this is a great place to start!
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on 14 June 2013
The book is a little long-winded in its explanation of the history and development of learned optimism. Whilst interesting, I think most people would prefer less anecdotal evidence of the science behind the theory and more practical examples of how to apply it.

The actual tests and practical exercises are good. Very clear and very helpful if you want to change your thinking to improve your moods and energy levels.
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