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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  9,407 ratings  ·  396 reviews
A national bestseller, Authentic Happiness launched the revolutionary new science of Positive Psychology—and sparked a coast-to-coast debate on the nature of real happiness.

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rath
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2004 by Atria Books (first published August 27th 2002)
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Start your review of Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
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
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 01, 2009 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.
شريف Arafa
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 06, 2010 added it
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
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The focus of this book is positive psychology, rather than on the deficit model of the past. Seligman’s advice about how to raise your happiness level is this, in a nutshell: practice gratitude, forgiveness and mindfulness, then determine your signature strengths (with related quiz). When you use your signature strengths for service and something larger than yourself, you have reached the good life. It reminds me of the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualization.
Note: Seli
John Stepper
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve been meaning to read the work of Seligman for some time but just got to it now. This book seems to me a blend of research, history of Positive Psychology, and personal philosophy. It seemed like almost 3 books in one, but all of it was interesting and related in an engaging way.

It includes some wonderful stories and exercises, and it made me think. For sure, I will read more Seligman.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, nonfiction
Um. There's some useful stuff in here, hidden behind a bit of over simplified statistics. But I'm putting it down after page 76, because in the last 10 pages there have been two instances of some SERIOUSLY effed up racial politics. Seligman's take on race essentially boils down to "black people are too angry and think about slavery too much." Really?? That is exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from these survey findings on the role and power of positive psychology.

Seligman's take is particular
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
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Seligman encourages people to focus on their strengths rather than improve their weaknesses. The author has some good ideas. There are questionnaires on the website "" that can be used to determine your strengths. The author is a capitalistic atheist who basically rejects modern psychology and wants people to work all the time to make more money for the rich. Seligman does say that religious people are happier and live longer. Atheists have a high suicide rate while Jewish ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
AnaMaria Rivera
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of Dr Selligman’s best books, disecting happiness and backing all his arguments on his scientific research. Very interesting framework on Character Strenghts and its relationship to what he calls “the good life”, and practical “advise” on reflecting and landing these concepts to life, love, parenting and work...

“Securely attached children grow up to outperform their peers in almost every way that has been tested, including persistence, problem solving, independence, exploration, and enthusia
Sarah Impett
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Seligman certainly has some good insights. I was a bit sceptical of the first few chapters. However, I learnt a lot throughout the rest of the book. I was particularly fond of the fact he referenced quizzes from his website. You could either take the quizzes straight from the book or on the website. I found the book helped me to identify my own personal strengths and overall the importance of having a more optimistic mindset.
Lisa Shultz
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
This book was filled with tests. I found it valuable to think about my level of happiness and signature strengths. I thought about what virtues I have and which ones I might want to place more focus upon in the future. I wish I had read the chapter on raising children when my kids were little. I understand more about how I can achieve more lasting happiness. And what I like most about the book is its hopeful and optimistic nature. It was very inspiring and I have recommended it many people.
Steve Granger
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a great introduction to positive psychology by one of its betterknown proponents. This book is aimed at a wider audience and is very readable. As such, for those of you with a degree in psychology, there is nothing new - merely a pleasant refresher of some of the classics and most insightful lines of research that fall under the umbrella of positive psychology.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was another required read for a psychology class. It was easy to read with a great tone. Compared to Flow, I liked this one even better as I think any audience would be engaged and like to read it.
James Bashall
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Seligman is a visionary and his science needs to become a cornerstone of humanity's future. This book is quite long-winded, however, so not for the faint hearted!
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about myself ... like that I'm "moderately hopeless" (ugh) and relatively high on the "revenge" scale. The good news is that I can fight these tendencies and live a more fulfilling emotional life.
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite not being into self-help books, yet this one gets some interesting ideas about positive psychology, except the last chapters as far as I concern. Anw, it's a perfect ending to a perfect holiday ^^
So, how to be happy? Just be grateful for what we have, be mindful in our everday life, look on the bright side of everything 😉
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was trying to finish this book since 2008. Finally I've done.

Overall review:
-The content is great and practical with exercises to actually make you happier.
-The exercises themselves has two downsides, though. Firstly, they're not formatted in the way to make finding them easy. So I struggle each time I try to come back to the book and to find a next one to do. Secondly, they consist mostly of different types of diary writing. Which works, but also is too monotonous for my taste.
-It has a lot o
Feb 01, 2011 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
Apr 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Authentic Happiness is an important introduction to Positive Psychology-- the science of understanding and furthering what's right rather than what's wrong with us. If you are disenchanted with mainstream psychology's emphasis on disorder and prescribed solutions, and if you want to enhance and make permanent the good things in life, you will find this book instructive and encouraging. Seligman simplifies a budding but complicated scientific discipline into an approachable read. He has a compani ...more
Anne Rosales
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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?

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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.” 33 likes
“Depression is now ten times as prevalent as it was in 1960, and it strikes at a much younger age. The mean age of a person’s first episode of depression forty years ago was 29.5, while today it is 14.5 years. This is a paradox, since every objective indicator of well-being—purchasing power, amount of education, availability of music, and nutrition—has been going north, while every indicator of subjective well-being has been going south. How is this epidemic to be explained?” 5 likes
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