Learned Optimism

Learned Optimism

Book - 1991
Average Rating:
7
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Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enchances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an "I--give-up" habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.. With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children,Learned Optimismis both profound and practical--and valuable for every phase of life. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf, 1991.
ISBN: 9780394579153
0394579151
Branch Call Number: 155.232/SELI
Characteristics: 319 p. ; 25 cm.

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a
Antigone10
Aug 16, 2017

This book was awful. While the science it discussed was fascinating, it failed at it's primary purpose.

First and foremost, it only gets to the "How can you become optimistic if you're pessimistic" at chapter 13. And though it cites quite a lot of solid sociological (though limited, get to that in a second) research about the differences between pessimism and optimism, it failed to cite any evidence that there was any successful method to actual change between the two using it's exercises.

Secondly, while the studies were impressive for their sample size (and I appreciated the explanation of public statements and written statements to determine whether someone was pessimistic or optimistic- what a fascinating tool to help suss out dead people's opinion) it failed to demonstrate causality. It showed that poor people are more pessimistic than rich people, adult women (but not girls) are more pessimistic than adult men, and that people who lose their parents as children are more pessimistic than people who didn't. That to me right there is pretty solid evidence that the increased link to disease, depression, and less money are running backwards. This, by itself is bad enough but then it goes on to recommend that schools and businesses weed out who they are going to accept and hire by whether or not they are optimistic or pessimistic! Which means that they are giving a test that weeds out poor people and women. And what's worse, they didn't seem to even notice that was what they are doing.

Thirdly, by their own research it shows that optimists are delusional. They rate their abilities higher than they are, they believe they have more control over their environment than they do, and make riskier decisions. Pessimists, on the other hand, accurately reflect reality and their abilities.

Finally, and this is a caution, the book describes harming dogs. It goes into depth as to the ethics of the problems and how carefully it monitors it, but if you don't like descriptions of animal abuse, those parts can be quite damaging.

I'd skip it if I were you.

a
Amiraxox
Mar 06, 2016

This book totally changed my awareness about my thought process and gave me the tools to have a happier life!
I love this book - one of my top 10 favorites!

c
cddowning
Aug 11, 2015

On Page 44

d
danielestes
Sep 26, 2013

"What is crucial is what you think when you fail, using the power of 'non-negative thinking.' Changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks that life deals all of us is the central skill of optimism." —this is my favorite quote from Seligman's Learned Optimism. And when I sum up the book for others I use a variation of this sentiment, saying something like, "When you experience failure or some form of life not going your way, what explanation do you give yourself? Not what you would say in front of others, but privately?" This is the foundation of your self-esteem, a way of knowing if you're more of an optimist or a pessimist. Seligman's book reads like a textbook in parts which makes for some uneven reading, and at other times he shifts into memoir-mode, sharing events that shaped his career in psychology. Too much of this pulls the reader away from the core message. And that message, a powerful one that is described right in the title, is this: You need not be a passive observer to the events of your life. Most things that happened are out of your control, but your reaction to them can be very much in your control. And that's a skill to be learned and developed.

v
Vito597
Jul 27, 2012

Did not find the motivational text expected of this title.

d
delfon
Apr 30, 2012

Who gives up, and who keeps going, and why? Can categorically say; the best book ever to understand depression and learned helplessness.
("learned' and in "forced learn")
The message so far logically explains many people met who have just given up, or get put down, and discouraged so easily. To change; one needs a better thought process, one that blames no one especially the self. Externalizing misfortunes is necessary, as the fault of circumstances or others, comes from how one relates to the mother and what commentary she makes about failures or misfortune. One can change however and the author gives tests on ones own pessimism, depression or one's child's pessimissm A good quick read, and not all the chapters need be included in getting the full value.

k
kmos
Feb 04, 2012

An interesting book, but a little dated. An excellent book for chronic ruminators.

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