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Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

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“This book will help you flourish.” With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman begins Flourish, his first book in ten years—and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different—it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition. Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life, unveiling an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life—for individuals, for communities, and for nations. In a fascinating evolution of thought and practice, Flourish refines what Positive Psychology is all about. While certainly a part of well-being, happiness alone doesn’t give life meaning. Seligman now asks, What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish? “Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment. Thought-provoking in its implications for education, economics, therapy, medicine, and public policy—the very fabric of society—Flourish tells inspiring stories of Positive Psychology in action, including how the entire U.S. Army is now trained in emotional resilience; how innovative schools can educate for fulfillment in life and not just for workplace success; and how corporations can improve performance at the same time as they raise employee well-being. With interactive exercises to help readers explore their own attitudes and aims, Flourish is a watershed in the understanding of happiness as well as a tool for getting the most out of life. On the cutting edge of a science that has changed millions of lives, Dr. Seligman now creates the ultimate extension and capstone of his bestselling classics, Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism.

370 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 5, 2011

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About the author

Martin E.P. Seligman

70 books976 followers
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 of Prevention and Treatment Magazine (the APA electronic journal), and is on the board of advisers of Parents.

Seligman has written about positive psychology topics such as The Optimistic Child, Child's Play, Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness," and in 2011, "Flourish."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 550 reviews
Profile Image for Lucia Gannon.
Author 1 book9 followers
June 5, 2012
This book was not what I expected but a good read nonetheless. I had expected a book focused on "Flourishing". The title of the book is, "Flourish", after all but what I got was a gallop through all of Mr Seligman's life-work. This is a very interesting over-view of what he has achieved to date and what he hopes to achieve in the future. I greatly admire this man and what he is doing and I know I will return to the book to remind myself of his insights and direction.
I found the work he is doing with the army very interesting. I had not heard of the concept of "post-traumatic growth" even though I know many people who have grown in this way after traumatic events.
There is a lot of common-sense in the book, just describing what is and putting words on vague concepts.
I like his definition of well-being. I had read "Authentic Happiness" but the first few chapters of this book expand on this and make it more meaningful and applicable.
If I have one criticism it is that it is very repetitive and I found myself skimming portions of it and then missing the introduction to new ideas etc.
I also found his referencing method frustrating. I had a feeling that it was a book written in a hurry and could have benefited from better editing.
I am not sure who it was aimed at. It is a very easy read for the general public but contains lots of detail that would probably only be of interest to the scholar.
It is certainly worth reading, containing many insights into a great mind with lots of practical application of his well thought out ideas.
662 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2011
From the title, I was expecting a prescriptive book. Instead, it was more a descriptive book about the general background of positive psychology and several ways it has been used in the past several years. I also was puzzled by the couple of times that Dr. Seligman spent time defending himself against critics, which seemed out of place in this book to me. If you're already a fan of Dr. Seligman and positive psychology, you'll enjoy reading these stories about how the positive psychology model is being used. If you're not knowledgeable about positive psychology, I would recommend "Learned Optimism" or "Authentic Happiness" by the same author, "Happier" by Tal Ben-Shahar, "Happiness" by Ed Diener, or "Positivity" by Barbara Frederickson instead. Actually, I'd probably recommend any of those other books instead of this one.
Profile Image for Kevin.
Author 3 books21 followers
October 17, 2016
Would recommend the dated, though similar and more practical Feeling Good by David Burns or even the pithy 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman over this book in a second. Flourish is light on practical advice and heavy on grandstanding. Almost every chapter starts with someone of stature asking Seligman to improve something gargantuan, like the US military or America Psychiatric Association. Save it for the memoirs. There's an attractive and compelling theory here that could fit into a 4-page pamphlet. The book presents the theory, comes back to it over and over again, and offers only two or three specific (and not new) exercises meant to support well-being. Seligman comes off as pompous and defensive. The book is meandering and repetitious. His theories of how optimism improves health outcomes may be true, but he doesn't successfully demonstrate the effectiveness of his tests that claim it so. The real claim seems to be that optimistic folks are the ones who will be more committed to a healthy diet or an exercise regimen. In my mind, this has less to do with optimism and more to do with discipline, which I'll concede may or may not be linked to optimism. Seligman says optimism is not to be taken as a panacea, but still presents it as such. There are some web resources Seligman helped develop that I'm curious to check out, but I found this book to be a bloated waste of time.
Profile Image for Stringy.
147 reviews37 followers
March 7, 2012
I'm not sure how to review this book, because it was quite different from what I was expecting after reading his earlier book, Authentic Happiness.

I knew from the introduction that Seligman thinks the earlier book was correct enough about happiness, but didn't cover all the aspects of well-being that positive psychology should be studying. So I thought this book would treat those new aspects (achievement and positive relationships) in the same depth as he'd covered the earlier ones (positive emotion, engagement and meaning).

But it was more about what he's been up to in the last 10 years - working with the US Army on resilience and with students on self-control. Which was fascinating, but not what I wanted. Ditto for the defences of his work from formal and informal criticism.

I think I would have liked the book more if I'd known what I was getting. As it is, I'm still waiting for the follow-up to Authentic Happiness that I was hoping for.
Profile Image for Phil.
101 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2013
I'm about 1/2 way through this book. So far I'm not all that impressed. I guess I was expecting more. It's written in a very chatty style with lots of little digressions that make it seem unfocused. There's also some annoying self-congratulatory stuff like how he mentions he was elected president of the APA with the highest margin of victory ever. I was hoping for lot more nuts & bolts, this is what you can do to flourish type content.

Edit: Now finished (well, I have to admit that I quickly skimmed and even skipped sections of this book).
Like: * section on the non-efficacy of drugs in treating depression and anxiety disorders (Selig relates some of the "inside baseball" of testing these drugs) * section on optimism and increased longevity (need to work on that Optimism part, I think :)

Dislike: as noted above, there's lots of fluff in this book. It could easily be edited down to half the number of pages without losing the essential information.
Profile Image for Lisa.
96 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2013
After I'd finished this book I had to wonder who the anticipated audience was? This is not a how-to, with detailed techniques for creating positive psychology in your own life. Mention of specific techniques is pretty much in passing. It's like a biography, but not so much of Seligman, the titan of the field, but of the discipline of positive psychology, with a great deal of "how I done good" in the mix. Seligman narrates how, under his tutelage and that of his disciples, positive psychology has been fast-track adopted by the military, by a grossly expensive private school in Australia, and Penn State's very special Master's degree for very special applicants.

But more interesting, and rather off-putting, is his need to defend the very subject he says is still in its early stages and still needs more than the one randomized controlled trial he describes in the text. Mostly his defensive posture, and his attacks, are directed at Barbara Ehrenreich and her book _Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinks Has Undermined America_. I believe lazy and irresponsible are two of the adjectives he uses for her methods critiquing his work, but don't quote me on that. And while I haven't read her book, he himself says that he is surprised the military wanted to jump right in when more research was needed. As far as I can see, his work simply doesn't meet her standard, while his does.

But I'm troubled how easily he dismisses over hundred years of social science research and how his work could be used by the far right. Poverty? It's nothing. Trauma and abuse? Don't worry about it. Anything else shown to be a factor of causation for anti-social behavior means nothing to Seligman, because it is all about the individual and their non-positive thought patterns. Used in the wrong hands, those of one hundred years ago and some of those in Congress now, that is a recipe for the "take thee care of number one" mentality that doesn't need to help preschoolers with Head Start programs, or funding state colleges at adequate levels so students don't leave college with more debt than they can pay within the rest of their life.

Like any titan who has virtually created a field, Seligman is certain that his way is the best way to solve personal and global problems, and if only every person on the planet would listen to him, it would work on all people. I've had that feeling too, somedays; I just haven't published enough to feel a can say it with an entire book.

Lastly, to points of minor interest. The main thrust of his work is that it isn't what happens to you that matters as much as how/what you think about what happens to you. Fair enough and findable in many other books. It's an essential part of Buddhist philosophy. But does he mention Buddhism for even a moment? Nope.

And yet, I still give the book 3 stars. While I have these worries and reservations, I think Seligman's field of study has points of great validity. I'd like to take one of the workshops he has arranged around the world. And I was interested in his narrative of it's adoption in various places. And it is surprisingly interesting; I would like to hear in ten years how it all panned out for the disciple.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
117 reviews32 followers
April 7, 2018
The book starts out with what you'd expect, explaining what positive psychology is and some exercises in positive psychology.

The entire rest of the book is a off-topic. I give a quick chapter summary below to show you what I mean. He talks about how much he helped the American Military with Post Traumatic Growth, and how he's baffled at criticism. He talks about how he thinks IRB's (which review experiments to make sure that no one gets hurt, and if someone gets hurt it's worthwhile) are too restrictive (i.e. he's baffled at criticism of some of his study ideas). There is a lot of this.

The book should be called "How I invented positive psychology and what I've used it for and why you shouldn't doubt me", it probably deserves lots and lots of stars, all the stars, but the name and the blurb are completely misleading.

He has this odd habit of referring to PERMA* as "optimism" so even though what his studies have found is that a what-we-would-call pessimistic person with PERMA gets sick less and recovers faster from illness, even serious illness... what he says is that "optimistic people recover faster" but that's not what the studies say. I don't see how PERMA equates with optimism, that is nothing like the colloquial usage of optimism. What am I missing here?

Chapter list and summary

Chapter 1: What Is Well-Being?
- Explains what well-being is.:)

Chapter 2: Creating Your Happiness: Positive Psychology Exercises That Work
- gives you three positive psychology exercises to do, then talks about how good positive psychology is for a while

Chapter 3: The Dirty Little Secret of Drugs and Therapy
- Says drugs and therapy are not as good as positive psychology, and barely better than placebo, then talks about problems with ideology in academic psychology and philosophy...

Chapter 4: Teaching Well-Being: The Magic of MAPP
- talks about how he has taught other people positive psychology, not to be mistaken with him teaching us positive psychology, which he did in chapter 2 and hasn't done since.

Chapter 5: Positive Education: Teaching Well-Being to Young People
- similar to chapter 4... more reasons why positive psychology is great

Chapter 6: GRIT, Character, and Achievement: A New Theory of Intelligence
- explains what grit is and how it came to be seen as important, I'm sure it goes without saying by now that it doesn't tell you how to become gritty.

Chapter 7: Army Strong: Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
- explains how he has been involved with the army, both in terms of positive psychology and in terms of learned helplessness. Outlines a few positive psychology exercises the army is using! Woo!

Chapter 8: Turning Trauma into Growth
- Information about PTSD, more info about the army, and why Post traumatic growth is important. No, nothing about how to achieve this growth

Chapter 9: Positive Physical Health: The Biology of Optimism
- people with high PERMA* scores get sick less... whole chapter defending this idea and attacking critics of it.

Chapter 10: The Politics and Economics of Well-Being
- Money doesn't make you happy

*Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement
Profile Image for Louise Silk.
Author 5 books13 followers
November 8, 2011
I enjoyed Dr. Seligman's TED talk and I loved his book Authentic Happiness but this book was a disappointment. There is way too much information on his research working with the armed forces and his criticism of others who are not engaging in happiness from his research perspective to make this book worth reading.

In his talk, as in the book, he gives the daily exercise of writing down three good things that happened which is a concrete step to more happiness.

The best part is the last page which I have paraphrased:
Say YES to more positive emotion.
Say YES to more engagement.
Say YES to better relationships.
Say YES to more meaning in life.
Say YES to more positive accomplishment.
Profile Image for Sarah.
78 reviews22 followers
April 1, 2018
من ترجمه این کتاب تحت عنوان شکوفایی رو خوندم. کتابی به زبان ساده و همراه با نتایج تحقیقات دکتر سلیگمن . خلاصه کوتاهی از آن را توی وبسایتم برای علاقه مندان قرار دادم.
Profile Image for Billie Pritchett.
1,071 reviews84 followers
June 29, 2016
I just finished Flourish, a book about positive psychology by Martin Seligman, and although I really liked it, I thought it could have been organized a little better, perhaps less an account of the recent history and fields in which the field of positive psychology is venturing into (fields like education, the military, health/medicine, etc.) and more an account of what positive psychology is. There are pieces of what positive psychology is along the way but these pieces are not the book's organizing principle. I'll attempt here to tell you what positive psychology is and demonstrate how it is supposed to work.

The field of positive psychology's main idea is that the focus of mental health has been for so long the elimination of psychological disorders and not much on the cultivation of living a richer life through a person's expression of her strengths and virtues. Positive psychology, then, is supposed to complement the traditional understanding of treating disorders with the additional goal of cultivating virtues and helping a person live a more flourishing life.

The theory of human nature that underlies positive psychology holds that people are forward- or goal-seeking individuals capable of dealing with stressors and disasters in life and concerned with increasing their well-being. And people are able to increase their well-being through positive emotion, engagement with the activities they do, positive relationships they have, and the achievements that result from the activities people engage in. These four components Seligman labels with the acronym PERMA. I'll break down PERMA to explain what each component is and how Seligman thinks you can better nourish these aspects of a life well lived.

1. Positive emotion. Positive emotion is just the set of happy feelings you have in any given day. And as we all know, these happy feelings can be produced by almost anything: eating a good meal, watching a good movie, having a good conversation with a friend, making love, and so on. For the record, though, the best research shows that nobody can much change their predisposition to conceive of events positively; it can only change by about 20 per cent, and this is because the predisposition is largely heritable. Suggestions. Seligman does make suggestions for increasing positive emotion, though, if only a little. And they are several. One is keeping a journal and writing in at night before you go to bed three good things you did that day and why you feel like they were good things. They can be the simplest things too. Another thing you can do is practice the A, B, C, D, E method with your negative thinking. How you do this is by writing down an action (A) that bothered you that day, the negative beliefs (B) you had about the situation, the feelings you have/had as a consequence (C), a demonstration, (D) of alternative ways to conceive of the event, and then an evaluation (E) of your thoughts and feelings afterward. The list goes on in terms of how you can improve your positive emotion, and you can read the book for the others.

2. Engagement. Engagement is the degree to which the activities you engage in are flowing, when time seems to pass and you're completely unaware, because you're so enthralled in the work you're doing. You can increase this sense of engagement by using your signature strengths during the things that you do. (If you're at all curious, what strengths you have, you can go to authentichappiness.org, sign up, and take the VIA test.)

3. Relationships. A basic way of improving relationships, Seligman reccommends, is by positively and constructively communicating with someone. If someone tells you something they did positive, for example, you can compliment that person and then ask more specific questions to find out about what it is they did. Something as simple as this increases relationships.

4. Achievement. What Seligman has to say about achievement is this. What a person really needs to do to perform well is the gumption to get up and do it and push away adversity. Seligman, somewhat commically, writes that if you want to be good at something, do it about 60 hours every week for 10 years.

All that I wrote here is just scanning the surface. There are a lot of good ideas in here.
Profile Image for Christopher.
16 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2012
I am one obsessed with social science popular nonfiction. Of the dozens of books I have read, this one is the best. Why? Because if the value of social science is the betterment of society and life of an individual, which I believe is the best measuring stick, then this book is #1.

I am beyond certain that, in future decades, Martin Seligman founding and building out the cogent theory of well-being and positive psychology will be looked back at a watershed moment in the history of bettering society and self. Hundreds of discoveries will no doubt stem from the simple, five-piece model of PERMA; Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

Five stars; a must read for anyone that enjoys this genre.
356 reviews
July 13, 2011
Recommended by the CEO of the Rescue Mission. Slow going due to research, but interesting discussion of applied positive psychology. The author updates and expands his research of the measures of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, meaning, accomplishments and positive relationships. Spending 10 minutes nightly on a "blessings journal" listing three things that went well during the day and why they went well/or how you feel about them would be a good habit for young and old. Lengthy list of references and sources.
Profile Image for Lino  Matteo .
395 reviews6 followers
July 14, 2018
Martin E.P. Seligman
“This book will help you flourish.” – the opening sentence
A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being – the sub title
Only at page 62, and thinking WOW! This was not the psychology that I learnt in school
Someone on Twitter recommended this book – whoever you are, thank you!

11: Positive psychology…is about what we choose for its own sake.
16: The elements of well being
Well being theory has five elements (PERMA):
• Positive emotion
• Engagement
• Meaning
• Positive relationships
• Accomplishments
22: …an alternative the big brain is a social problem solver.
29:…what really makes us happy.
Chapter 2: Creating your Happiness: Positive Psychology Exercises that work
30: The gratitude visit
…write a letter and deliver it in person…
38: Signature strengths exercises
40: Positive psychotherapy
• 14 planned sessions
Chapter 3: The dirty little secret of drugs and therapy
45: Imagine a treatment – giving positive psychology exercise on the web – that is dirt cheap, massively disseminated, and at least as effective as therapy and drugs.
…misplaced government and industry priorities…
46: Cure versus symptom relief
46: Cure takes too long….so therapy and drugs are now entirely about short-term crisis management and about dispensing cosmetic treatments
47: …cognitive therapy for depression – which changes how you think about bad events….
So a 20% drug edge over placebo would be a generous, maximum estimate of their benefit.. This 65% number crops up over and over….
48: Strangely marriage counseling usually consists of teaching partners to fight better.
51: …learning to function well even if you are sad, or anxious or angry – in other words, dealing with it.
54: But I never did, I got an empty patient. And that is because the skills of flourishing – of having positive emotion meaning, god work and positive relationships – are something over and above the skills of minimizing suffering.
But every person, every patient, just wants ‘to be happy.’
55: Applied psychology versus basic psychology: Problems versus puzzles
60: Physics was preceded by an ancient science of engineering, which actually solved problems, before it grafted on abstract, basic research.
Good science requires the interplay of analysis and synthesis.
Chapter 4: Teaching Well Being: The Magic of MAPP:
• MAPP = Master of applied positive psychology
68: So the first ingredient of the magic MAPP is the content of positive psychology itself.
71: You assuredly do not need to be a licensed psychologist to practice positive psychology or to be a coach.
72: What good is positive business? The conference was built around the idea that we have entered an economy of life satisfaction – over and above money – and that for business to thrive, it must cultivate relationships and create meaning.
77: MAPP has been magical beyond any other teaching experience….
• Intellectual content challenging, personally applicable and fun
• Transformative: both personally and professionally
• Calling: students and faculty are called
These ingredients imply the possibility of a positive education for students of all ages, and it is to this larger vision that I now turn
Chapter 5: Positive education: Teaching well-being to young people
78: I am all for success, literacy, perseverance, and discipline, but I want you to imagine that schools could, without compromising either, teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement.
79: Should well being be taught in school?
EN: More does not create paradise!
80: Two good reasons that well-being should be taught in schools are the current flood of depression and the nominal increase in happiness.
A third good reason is that greater well being enhances learning.
81: Penn Resiliency Program (PRP)
84: Three-Good-Things exercise
• Honesty
• Loyalty
• Perseverance
• Creativity
• Kindness
• Wisdom
• Courage
• Fairness
90: …emotions don’t follow inexorably from external events but from what you think about those events, and you can actually change what you think.
Embedding positive education
92: Living positive education
96: the aim of wealth should not be to blindly produce a higher GDP but to produce more well being.
Chapter 6: GRT, character, and achievement: A new theory of intelligence
106: What intelligence is
108: It turns out that speed and IQ have a surprisingly strong relationship.
110: The virtue of slowness
111: …speed and anxiety go together.
112 Executive function: consists of focusing and ignoring distractions, remembering and using new information, planning action and revising the plan, and inhibiting fast, impulsive thoughts and actions.
113: Rate of learning: The first Derivative of Speed
114: So far in our theory of achievement:
• Speed: the fast, the more material on automatic, the more one knows about the task
• Slowness: the voluntary, heavyweight processes of achievement, such as planning, refining, checking for errors, and creativity. The faster the speed, the more the knowledge, and thus the more time left over for these executive functions to be used
• Rate of learning: how fast new information can be deposited into the bank account of automatic knowledge, allowing ever more time for the slow executive processes.
Self Control and Grit
118: The kids with high self-discipline did not put on as much weight as the kids with low self-disciple. IQ had no impact on weight gain.
Grit versus self-discipline
124: Building the elements of success
Achievement = skill X effort
1. Fast
2. Slow
3. Rate of learning
4. Effort = time on task
125: Something big has now happened that is an inflection point for positive education and that is the story of the next two chapters.
Chapter 7: Army Strong: Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
EN: Apply MAPP to Biz and WGPS Projects
131: The enemy of good is better ~ General Cornum
135: As emotional fitness goes up PTSD symptoms decline
Chapter 8: Turning Trauma into Growth
164: (Richard Layard) is also the author of Happiness, a radical view of government in which he argues that government policy should be measured not by increases in gross domestic product but by increases in global well-being.
Science makes it into public policy when the evidence is sufficient and the political will is present.
167: Building mental toughness
171: Hunt the good stuff
175: Building strong relationships
176: …my opinion is that the point of interrogation is to get at the truth, not to get at what the interrogator wants to hear.
Chapter 9: Positive Physical Health: The Biology of Optimism
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity ~ Preamble to the constitution of the World Health Organization, 1946
185: Could the psychological state of mastery – the opposite of helplessness – somehow reach inside and strengthen the body?
187: But the scientific argument is more telling for me: there are usually more direct ways of answering the questions that most interested me with human participants rather than animal subjects.
189: We found that people who believe that the causes of setbacks in their lives are temporary, changeable and local do not become helpless readily in the laboratory.
190: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
194: All studies of optimism and CVD converge on the conclusion that optimism is strongly related to protection from cardiovascular disease.
194: Infectious Illness
200: …positive emotional style is the driving factor. In addition he ruled out self-reported health, optimism, extraversion, depression, and self-esteem differences.
Cancer and all-cause mortality
203: …pessimism as a risk factor for developing cancer.
204: Is well being causal and how might it protect?
1. Optimists take action and have healthier lifestyles. …Optimists may take better care of themselves.
2. Social support. …the ensuing loneliness of pessimists may be a path to illness
3. Biological mechanisms
208: Positive Health
• Defining positive health
• Reanalysis of existing longitudinal studies
• Cardiovascular health assets
• Exercise as a health asset

Chapter 10: The Politics and Economics of Well-Being
221: Material prosperity maters to positive psychology but only insofar as it increase well-being.
What is wealth for? I believe it should be in the service of well-being.
EN: What is wealth for? Wealth is in the service of well-being.
222: In 2004 Ed Diener and I published as article, “Beyond Money’…
223: Wealth and Happiness
1. The more money the more life satisfaction
2. But making more money rapidly reaches a point of diminishing returns on life satisfaction
228: The financial downturn
233: Optimism and economics
237: PERMA 51
241: We can all say ‘Yes’ to more well-being.
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 9 books19 followers
June 8, 2020
There’s quite a bit that’s useful in this book; I’m using quite a bit of positive psychology concepts in my 1101 class right now. However, in its pendulum swinging it goes a bit too far in putting culpability on individuals and not in institutions and structures. As with Grit (which is mentioned quite a bit in here), it doesn’t matter how “gritty” my students are-if they can’t afford books or get to class, they aren’t going to succeed.
Profile Image for Nicola Isabelle.
5 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2018
In general, this books offers a good overview of the field of positive psychology. As I have done the Positive Psychology Specialization on Coursera and as this book probably served as a foundation of the course, I did not learn as much as I hoped I would. Nevertheless, I found the the notes in the appendix quite helpful for further research.
Profile Image for Roseb612.
442 reviews61 followers
August 22, 2019
Tahle knížka klame tělem a je trošku o něčem jiném, než člověk předpokládá. Autor hned první větou slibuje, že "tato kniha vám pomůže vzkvétat", ale to bohužel není až tak pravda. Tohle jsou tak napůl dějiny pozitivní psychologie a napůl přehled projektů, na kterých se Seligman v letech před napsáním knihy podílel. Ne že by to místy nebylo zajímavé, ale vzkvétat vám to opravdu asi nepomůže.

Je to velká škoda, protože "praktická" knížka by byla asi to, co člověk (alespoň tedy já a podle recenzí i další lidé) očekával - je ale taky pravdou, že nic novějšího Seligman nenapsal (tedy mimo své paměti The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist's Journey from Helplessness to Optimism) a tak v Melvilu ani neměli po čem jiném sáhnout. Ale možná by bylo lepší zvolit jiné jméno a přínosnější knihu - škoda.

Základní vysvětlení konceptu životní pohody je zajímavé, historické a projektové věci se dají učíst, ale příliš smyslu v tom nevidím, takže za mě slabší tři hvězdičky. Bohužel.

Kontext: Rozhodla jsem se konečně pohnout s Melvilem, ale mám ho většinou ve čtečce a večer číst na displeji nechci, tak to jde pomaleji.

První věta: "Tato kniha vám pomůže vzkvétat."

Poslední věta: "My všichni můžeme říci „ano“ větší duševní pohodě."
Profile Image for Jen.
222 reviews2 followers
January 30, 2012
This was a fantastic book. Seligman does a great job of making the argument that teaching kids well-being (resilience, optimism), is more powerful than any other intervention. This was interesting to me for several reasons. First, as a person working in a K-6 school with some poverty. Second, as a parent. Third, as someone with a background and interest in psychology. The book includes a case study of a boarding school in Australia. It also includes exercises that you can do with kids to get them focused on being optimistic and grateful. Additionally, there are several assessments that are free to the public
on his website, and in short form in the appendix. The website is pretty cool. I had my own children take the strengths assessment and they thought it was fun to do. I felt it was very accurate and it started a nice conversation about how we are all different.

This was easy reading and very interesting. It comes out in paperback 2/7 and I am buying a copy for my own reference.
Profile Image for BriAnna Lola McKissen.
11 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2015
This book is a mess. I can't remember the last time I read something I hated this much. The Positive Psychology information and research is interesting and insightful, but overwhelmed by a rambling, incoherent, self-important autobiography. It feels like 3 or 4 different books, with different tones and genres, were spliced together hurriedly. It feels like attending a lecture where the professor spends seven minutes on the syllabus and fifty-three on self flattery and long winded anecdotes about what he ate for lunch last week, with the seven minutes of relevance sprinkled intermittently throughout... you just keep sitting there in agony, hoping he gets back to the point.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,702 followers
May 16, 2014
Although a great believer in Dr. Seligman's work, the positive psychology movement, and the important work being done at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, I would not recommend this book to someone not already familiar with PP or Seligman. It's oddly structured and rambling--more an overview of Seligman's career and the development of positive psychology, with heaps of footnotes--than a enlightening look at the practical application of positive psychology in every day life.
Profile Image for JY Tan .
105 reviews12 followers
April 2, 2022
While this is not my first positive psychology book, I have always been intrigued to check out the work written by one of the founding fathers himself. As I have been handed my first ever course in positive psychology to teach, I took this opportunity to pick up this book in order to inform my teaching.

The writing was rather average, with the content gradually becoming more predictable and boring as the pages turn. I cannot exactly put a finger on what made this book not work for me. I enjoy a good blend of academic rigour and casual storytelling, and factually speaking this book has both. It just reminds me of one of the Seligman's openers for his TED talk when asked about the state of psychology, 'not good enough'.

The content for this book was poorly organized. The first chapter was rather enjoyable for me as he detailed his journey trying to come up with the PERMA theory. But the rest of the chapters just miss the mark for me. The second chapter was about some working (but uninspiring) interventions. The third was a messy chapter about comparing positive psychology to mainstream clinical interventions. The fourth was about his own journey starting positive psychology courses. It only goes downhill from here. There are some occasional good points with attention catching openers and anecdotes, but the elaboration just wasn't thorough enough. It began to feel like a sales pitch for a glaringly incomplete product. The only silver-lining to this was the tone is not desperate, but rather a complacent one. This reflects the state of positive psychology well, where there are great work being done but disorganized, it gained great acceptance and fit the needs of the modern person well, but when the theories meet real problems the speakers start to run out of coherent talking points and start rambling about science, philosophy, religion, culture, statistics, economics, methodology, morality, personal anecdotes, academic trivia, and everything in between. Each of the talking points are compelling on their own right, but they never come together to tell a whole story.

I actually cannot tell who is this book for, but I could slowly rule out who this is not for. It is definitely not meant for clinicians or other practitioners, as the book was not organized as a manual. It is also not meant for the average audience as a self-help book either, considering how bulky with academic-speak and research there is. This is also not quite for the academic or seasoned student either, because there is simply too much storytelling and trivia about Seligman's life to be a seminal text (at the same time, most citations regarding the PERMA theory point towards this book directly). This is at best an optional reading for first year university students, serving as a workable introduction to positive psychology and how Seligman came up with it to help ease them into the process before they start venturing into more specific topics.
Profile Image for Marco.
370 reviews47 followers
October 20, 2020
It's strange when you start to realize a very specific ideology is behind lots of what you consume in terms of information, specially books. Only recently have I been able to connect the dots - not by virtue of my shrewdness, but by reading authors who point them out.

Positive Psychology is fought against by people on the left because of its focus on the power of the individual to shape a big part of his life and because it dares to be optimistic about the present and the future state of things.

All this time I thought the faculty at my university didn't like PP much because of what they perceive as its naivety. The professors never bothered to specify that PP's narrative goes against their Marxist-inspired worldview where things most certainly suck and we have to do something about the privileged screwing the underprivileged.

I wish people in academia were more upfront about why they like or dislike things, it would do their argument more good than harm, specially when compared to the alternative of students eventually connecting the dots themselves. I mean, those who eventually do, that is.
Profile Image for Gail.
441 reviews
November 4, 2018
This was a book group selection so I listened to it. I like the premise of positive psychology as a way to improve well-being--if I understand it correctly, happiness and well-being will follow when you behave in certain ways. The author is a Phd psychologist at Penn State and very scientific in his research and studies. He claims the universal single best way to improve well-being is performing an act of kindness. I found that fascinating. He also reported an interesting thing when talking about income as related to happiness and said that people in Utah have a higher sense of well-being than income would indicate. I assume this means we are like the poor people of South America--happy for other reasons besides money. So the only problem with the book is that a lot of it was boring and I tuned out. I do look forward to discussing it at our combined men/women book group this weekend, however.
Profile Image for Steven.
42 reviews4 followers
November 17, 2017
This was a fairly powerful book for me both professionally and personally. I think have a history of anecdotally describing myself as a “pessimist.” This book helped me to analyze how my aversion to optimism isn’t really about optimism but more about vacuous imposters and hucksters peddling their version of optimism. Seligman’s notion of P.E.R.M.A. is a concept that I can wrap my head around and attempt to increasingly try to approximate in my life and values. Seligman shows us how science has clearly demonstrated the value and benefits of optimism on health, longevity, and overall well-being. I’m going to be working on increasing P.E.R.M.A. in my life and thinking.
Profile Image for Heather Ferguson .
156 reviews1 follower
January 8, 2021
I am torn between 3 and 4 stars, so maybe a 3.5 would be more accurate. I loved the first part of this book. I found it encouraging as someone who tends toward dwelling on the negative and difficulties of life. However the final chapters I was less enthralled with and to be honest, it could be a result of having finished the book the days following the Capitol siege of which I am furious towards all who have foolishly enabled a psychopath in the presidency for lo these 4 years. I am having a hard time finding positive thinking. So that has clouded my finishing of the book. I went ahead with the 4 stars with that in mind. It was helpful for me, to be sure. And I do recommend it.
Profile Image for Jeremy LaLonde.
140 reviews5 followers
June 16, 2021
There is a GREAT message in this book - and you get it in the first section, and then after that I found the whole thing to be a bit more academic than I'd like for me personally. It felt like he nailed it out of the park from the get-go, but instead of building on his great idea he just spent the rest of the book explaining why it was right and needed...
That said - the section on economics was great. The concept of "What is wealth for" and how in most of the world it's simply to achieve more wealth as opposed to help our world achieve more well being. Great stuff there.
Fascinating, but skimmable for the lay-person.
Profile Image for Braňo.
2 reviews
October 17, 2022
This books does a great job of explaining the development of Positive Psychology from the science of happiness to the science of well-being and everything that comes with it, and it was very informative in terms of the shifts of focus in this area of psychology. It also has a good overview of the findings related to these shifts and the overall significance for world policy as well.

This is more of a personal opinion but I still think, somewhat ironically, that Seligman is looking at the world through too much of a positive lens.
Profile Image for Zaliha.
40 reviews
October 29, 2022
this made me think a lot about positive psychology and why it is easier to some people and harder to others. The whole disposition vs decision debate sent me down a ride and the whole question of why some people manage and some don't and how the power of will or chronic illness play into psychosomatics has been something I am more awarely conscious about ever since. Although I wouldn't just take each word for it's face value and would always consider more, and more intersectional, perspectives, this was truly a valuable read.
Profile Image for Jen.
106 reviews27 followers
February 9, 2019
I’d say it’s a 3.5. I think this is a book worth reading, though I didn’t always enjoy reading it. I think positive psychology, PERMA, and the VIA character strengths are all great things to learn about and incorporate. I feel like I didn’t need all of the stories and explanations in there, but I appreciated some of the examples, particularly the one about the grammar school. For the most part, I found it interesting, informative, and applicable.
Profile Image for Walden Effingham.
126 reviews1 follower
November 25, 2020
An important book , that perhaps everyone should read. Discusses concepts of wellbeing and happiness. Introduces positive psychology aspects (as opposed to standard psychology/psychiatry which focuses on attaining absence of disease rather than actual wellbeing). Excellent. Probably will reread at some stage.
Profile Image for John Stepper.
504 reviews19 followers
May 10, 2022
It feels like part update on positive psychology (theory and practice, including some very interesting studies) and part memoir.

No matter, I find I always learn from Seligman’s book. He never fails to motivate me to research more *and* act on that research.

Next up: His book from the late 90s, “The Optimistic Child”
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