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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,977 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
Over a decade ago, Martin Seligman charted a new approach to living with "flexible optimism." Now, in his most stimulating and persuasive book to date, the bestselling author of Learned Optimism introduces the revolutionary, scientifically based idea of "Positive Psychology." Positive Psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, asserting that happiness is not t ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published 2002)
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So many self-help books, questionnaires, and popular psychology books talk about what’s wrong with our lives and how to make the bad bits better. Martin E. P. Seligman asks us to look instead at what’s good, and learn to turn good into excellent, making this a book on mental wellness, rather than mental illness. It’s a refreshing change.

Wouldn’t you rather feel more happy instead of less miserable? But this isn’t just a question of looking at half-filled cups when they might be half-empty. Simpl
Aug 21, 2011 Stringy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book from the man who decided that the psychology of mental illness needed to be paired with research into mental wellness. Seligman believes there's more to mental good health than the mere abscence of illness or sadness, and has inspired a group of researchers to work with him on creating a new branch of psychology to figure it out.

He catalogues the different ways of being happy: about the past, the future and the present. He focuses mostly on present happiness, dividing it into tw
The cover of this book seems pretty pathetic; I'll be the first to admit I was put off by it. 'Authentic happiness' from one little book. Right... However, it was recommended to me by a professional therapist, so I bought it. I'm just making my way through the preface, and I'm already pleased. Who doesn't love a good dig into Freud? Here's a quote I liked:

"Freud's philosophy, as bizarre as it sounds when laid out so starkly, finds its way into daily psychological and psychiatric practice, wherei
I'd known about Seligmman's work for quite some time. I first started taking questionnaires at his website back in 2008. The fact that three years later, I still haven't taken them all, should be a pretty good indicator that I've never been converted to a true believer. But I do keep coming back, so there are aspects of his work that I find interesting.

This book and the test center at his website are really tie-ins to each other. It was because my results kept saying "for more information, see t
شريف عرفة
The Field of positive psychology is closing the gap between self-help literature and Psychology. Martin Seligman is the God father of this Science and this book is the most popular books about it. I'm studying Masters of Applied Positive Psychology after my MBA to give me the empirical evidences I need in my work as a self Development author, and it really does.
In short: This is a highly recommended book for who are interested in self development based on real scientific researches.
Mar 22, 2015 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a detailed and insightful model of all the different contributors to happiness (fulfilment is probably a better word). Best of all, the author offers up a hypothesis as to how to put the knowledge to use! I would highly recommend this book - even if life is pretty good in general, it may provide that little extra *click* that leads to a Eureka moment. And if life sucks, well, consider this book a checklist of things to work on one at a time.

Key Points:
1. There are three diffe
Apr 05, 2009 Cara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
This is a really good book.

It was slow to start, spending pages upon pages talking about the benefits of being happy. Like, duh, just wanting to be happy isn't a good enough reason? I want to be happier because, uh, I'll be happier?

Other than that, good stuff, though. Concrete suggestions backed by psychological study. Summary:

- Your past doesn't determine your future. Increase your gratitude. Forgive.
- Assume bad things are temporary and isolated to the particular context in which they occur.
May 06, 2009 Rebekah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I originally read this book for a college course, where we were actually only supposed to read excerpts. It interested me so much that I read the whole book, but always felt the injustice of being unable to dive as deeply into it as I wanted, since it was my senior year of college, and I was busy with other assignments. This time, I took my time getting through it, stopping and pausing often to think about what I had just read.

I love Martin Seligman. For a little history, he was President of the
Jan 16, 2011 Alletia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seligman as father of Positive Psychology is a convincing advocate for augmenting the disease model of traditional psychology and for broadening the base of those who understand the benefits of promoting authentic happiness. While most of what he describes does not sound new, the read is worth while as it backs up all those long held beliefs buried in the self help sections of bookshops with solid emperical evidence. I could not help feeling almost validated and clever in recognising some of my ...more
Chris Walker
My father gave me Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living to read as an anxious adolescent. Later I read Norman Vincent Peale. This book mentions how Norman Vincent Peale's positive thinking grew out of early Protestantism (Methodism) in the United States and the notion of our having a free will to better ourselves (rather than being passive vessels waiting to be filled with grace). The author asks the question as to whether the development of Positive Psychology, the program at th ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Is this authentic happiness?

JDN 2456177 EDT 13:59.

When I started Authentic Happiness, I had the highest hopes—that this might finally be the way out of my depression. When I finished reading it, I felt even more hopeless and depressed. Now that I've had some time to reflect on it, I just feel ambivalent and disappointed.
Seligman promises to offer us a fundamentally new approach to psychology, focused not on curing illness but on supporting flourishing, not on treating depression but on creating
I loved this book. This book helped me to perfect the ability to "replace negative and all encompassing" thoughts with more neutral and more local thoughts. For example, one could say, "Everyone hates me." But after reading this book, I would be able to replace that with, "Well, not everyone hates you. A few people, like _____, _______, and _______ still like you. And not only that, do you really care if people hate you because you are holding them accountable at work?" Usually, this would help ...more
May 28, 2016 Maren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Things I will remember about this book:
--When something good happens to an optimist, they think of it as universal (permeating all areas of their life) and permanent. When something good happens to a pessimist, they think of it as specific and temporary. When something bad happens to an optimist, they think of it as specific and temporary. When something bad happens to a pessimist, they think of it as universal and permanent.
--Marriage between two pessimists is hard.
--People get habituated to t
Keith Kendall
Oct 09, 2014 Keith Kendall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, psychology
This book resonated with me. Below are a few notes that I made while reading it.

"We find that both the depressed people who walk into our clinic and people need help us by unsolvable problems display passivity, become slower to learn, and are sadder and more anxious than people who are not depressed or are our control subjects." (Page 22)

"10 years into our work on learned helplessness I changed my mind about what was going on in our experiments. It all stems from some embarrassing findings that
Oct 13, 2014 Jairo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
De lectura obligatoria para psicólogos y psicoterapeutas interesados en estar al dia con lo que esta pasando en el mundo de la psicologia aplicada en Estados Unidos. Es difícil pensar en que otro tema de psicologia se este invirtiendo mas dinero por parte de las fundaciones mas ricas e influyentes como El Fondo Templeton, (Templeton Foundation) y el gobierno federal.

El tema principal del autor es el de que la psicologia aplicada necesita adquirir prestigio académico, que actualmente no tiene, y
Feb 01, 2011 Brent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
Once again I don't think of myself as someone who reads many self-improvement books, but I did it again.

I valued the main point in this book, but I don't think it's the ultimate solution the way Seligman describes it. The author relates that in the history of psychology, much of the practice has been focused on the negative: people's social problems, delusions, irrational behavior, depression, etc. He argues that this often ends up being counter-productive where people focusing on everything th
Anne Rosales
I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book, which worked out well, as it's probably not something you need to focus 100% of your attention on. I really enjoyed the first few chapters, where Seligman lays out the basis for studying "positive psychology" -- how to increase one's experience of positive emotion/states of being, versus how to decrease one's experience of the effects of psychological trauma or disorders.

I also enjoyed taking the self-assessment quizzes at Seligman's websi
Mar 27, 2016 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be called: the human being operation guide.

I read about half of this book, and stopped because of school work. I have started it again and I had to start at the beginning. It is a little complicated (it is, after all, psychology) but, after the initial mind twisting, it starts to seem like common sense. This book answers the question: how can I live my life that will make me feel like I am accomplishing something worth while - and be fulfilled and happy doing it?

learn more:

Stef Wakeman
Feb 10, 2010 Stef Wakeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book randomly, while traveling through Costa Rica. The title itself turned me off, but I was desperate for an English language book and would have read anything at that point. I was wonderfully surprised by this book- a self-help book on promoting optimism and freedom from negative thought patterns that is pragmatic, research driven and interesting to read. Seligman is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has a very useful website in conjunction with the book, where ...more
Philippe Lazaro
The best we can do as individuals is to choose to be a small part of furthering this progress. This is the door through which meaning that transcends us can enter our lives. A meaningful life is one that joins withsomethinglarger than we are– and the larger something is, the more meaning our lives have.
— Martin E.P. Seligman

This was a very different book than my usual sort of read. Actually, it’s primarily a psychology oriented read and it was one from Deanna’s bookshelf. But while she was read
Gabriel C.
Dec 23, 2015 Gabriel C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookriot2015
Good, it's been too long since I gave a one-star review.

This book has maybe 10 pages of useful content and the rest is filled with repetition, plugs for the website, sanctimonious moralizing, the typical cramming-it-all-into-my-model of personality psychologists, humblebrags (SO many humblebrags---about his career, his family, his money, namedropping in the field, winning an election, whatevs), pop psych quizzes veritably ripped from the pages of a checkout counter magazine (or waiting to be pa
Phil Cornelius
Note: please skip to the last paragraph for a summary of this review
This book can be a useful tool. Seligman does provide an easy formula for how to make your life happier and more meaningful. He discusses outside factors that influence happiness, looking at external factors that readers may change (such as getting married), and cannot change (genetics). He goes on to look at internal factors: optimism, character strengths, etc. This is the part of the book that matters most, and so he spends mu
Mar 05, 2014 Sharlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: educational, adult
This book has a lot of great information. It is filled with clear, well-researched information, but it is not dry or laborious to read (with tedious information relegated to the appendices). I will have to go back to the notes I've written in the margins, so I can apply some of the advice to my own life and relationships. I am glad I read this book, and I agree with and can learn from many of the points. I should go back to my notes before I say exactly what was most beneficial, but then this re ...more
Omar Taufik
Mar 19, 2016 Omar Taufik rated it it was amazing
The author of this book Martin Seligman is the pioneer of the science of Positive Psychology. This fact had it's great impact on the book where the author with great talent filled the book with insight, inspiration and meaning.

The author mentioned Aristoteles saying that there is a pleasant life and a good life where the pleasant life is the life where most people live on the various temporary pleasures. On the other hand, the good life is what the author calls Authentic Happiness.

The reader is
Elizabeth Anne
This, in my opinion, is a must-read for anyone who would like to better understand positive psychology, the relatively new branch of psychology that studies everything related to emotional wellness, quality of life, and what makes life worth living. It provides a history of the movement and the man behind it, as well as important research in the field. And it's an enjoyable read, too!
Kipriadi prawira
Oct 20, 2013 Kipriadi prawira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book that introduce Positive Psychology-- the science of understanding and furthering what's "right" rather than what's "wrong" with us. The main lesson from this book is:
"Authentic happiness involves living a life full of appreciation - being mindful of each and every moment - and passionately pursuing knowledge, friendships, health and career goals."
May 24, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate the author's expertise and clear style with specific examples and description of research conducted by himself and other psychologists. The point of the book is to share his teaching about positive psychology - exercises to educate yourself and to learn how to promote affirmative(positive) thinking coupled with results for actual psychological research. Having been president of the American Psychological Association and co-founder of positive psychology studies, his focus has been o ...more
Sep 30, 2009 Katelin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book from Positive Psych. Much of the same research as The How of Happiness only from the man who was one of the founders of the movement of positive psychology. Focusing on strengths and again, all the research as to why/how certain behaviors cause us to be happy.
Sue Smith
May 05, 2015 Sue Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was well worth reading. It's an interesting and thoughtful insight on how you can understand the ways and means to introduce and maintain a true happiness into your life. There are lots of self analysis tests throughout (which were great, except for the self-minded so-n-so who decided he or she was the only one that was going to read this particular library book and filled them all in. One of my biggest pet peeves EVER). But, apparently you can go online and check them out there. I did ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Patsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Seligman's work in Positive Psychology has been inspirational to me. In this book, he suggests that the Good Life, in which one experiences pleasure as well as gratification, consists of discovering your Signature Strengths, and then using them every day of your life in your work. This has helped me to see that the things I enjoy doing can be used in service to others, as well as making the world a better place. Also, I can enjoy the process. This quote from Dr. Seligman sums up the message ...more
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Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Psychology. He was previously the Director of the Clinical Training Program in the department. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association by the widest margin in its history and served in that capacity during the 1998 term.[4] He is the founding editor-in-chief ...more
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“Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others.” 9 likes
“TRANSCENDING Escher got it right. Men step down and yet rise up, the hand is drawn by the hand it draws, and a woman is poised on her very own shoulders. Without you and me this universe is simple, run with the regularity of a prison. Galaxies spin along stipulated arcs, stars collapse at the specified hour, crows u-turn south and monkeys rut on schedule. But we, whom the cosmos shaped for a billion years to fit this place, we know it failed. For we can reshape, reach an arm through the bars and, Escher-like, pull ourselves out. And while whales feeding on mackerel are confined forever in the sea, we climb the waves, look down from clouds. —From Look Down from Clouds (Marvin Levine, 1997)” 1 likes
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