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Learned optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman

Learned optimism (edition 1992)

by Martin E. P. Seligman

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1,160127,004 (3.87)9
Title:Learned optimism
Authors:Martin E. P. Seligman
Info:Milsons Point, N.S.W.: Random House Australia, 1992. 319 p. ; 21 cm.
Tags:psychology, Positive, Happiness, Insightability

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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman



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4 ( )
  ronchan | Nov 14, 2016 |
This is an excellent book for somebody who needs to enhance their overall outlook and particularly if they're going through a rough scenario in work or relationships. A number of the techniques during this book have already helped me through some low points. ( )
  carloperezz37 | Mar 26, 2016 |
Is the glass half empty or half full? Seligman attempts to provide tools to help change the habitual pessimistic self talk to something that's more realistic and hopeful. I found the included test hard to follow as they asked us to analyze the answers. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Jan 17, 2016 |
Learned Optimism is exactly what it sounds like. Dr. Seligman teaches you how to identify your explanatory style in positive or negative situations---how you explain them to yourself---and identifies three broad axes in terms of their perceived permanence, pervasiveness, and personalization.

I would quibble a bit with the quiz to test your own optimism (as I often do with these sorts of things), where one of the questions to test whether you personalize good events is whether you'd be more likely upon winning the lottery to tell yourself it was pure chance, or you picked the right numbers. Not taking credit for "picking the right numbers" doesn't make me a pessimist, it makes me a realist; it's the lottery, by definition it was pure chance!

Leaving that aside, Seligman acknowledges that the personalization of one's explanations is less significant and useful than the pervasiveness and particularly the permanence, which amounts to what Carol Dweck calls Mindset in her book of the same name. And he shows you how to change your mindset across these three dimensions, developing what he calls "flexible optimism" so you can deploy it selectively as appropriate to the situation. For example, you want to be optimistic in most situations, especially those requiring you to call on deeper reserves and in which a pessimistic outlook can only harm your outcome, such as dealing with health problems. But in certain situations, such as those where the failure mode is particularly bad, it's helpful to adopt a pessimistic approach at least provisionally in order to ask what could go wrong and figure out how to prevent that (such as surgeons and pilots going through their pre-op or pre-flight checklists every time rather than just assuming that everything is probably going to be okay). This is very useful material.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2P611EX5GJM4S ( )
  AshRyan | Jan 26, 2015 |
I learned, in reading this book, that I am a pessimist. This came as news to me, since I'd always thought of myself as an optimist. But optimism - at least not as Seligman defines it - is not a soft-focus view of the world, where you believe that if you just do the right thing, everything will work out in due time. (That's magical thinking - something Seligman addresses without naming it. I learned an expensive lesson in thinking this way in grad school.) I come from a family of pessimists, so I wasn't even aware I thought this way. It's amazing how unchallenged thoughts can guide a person's life.

But this book hit so many points for me: the churning, negative thoughts that never let me alone, the failures that haunt me at four o'clock in the morning, the way I can blow minor issues completely out of proportion, the way I can make the fear of failure a self-fulfilling prophesy, the way I can give up or collapse internally when things go wrong. Oh, and the way I internalize criticism and make it permanent inside me, like a stone. Oh, I've done all these things, and more, which makes me realize I'm a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist. (I'm now wincing at the amount of time I spent on a barstool in my twenties, regaling my problems to friends and anyone else who would listen. But it's nice to finally put a name to the feeling.)

These things are universal. Every adult goes through them. I've had to learn the hard way that a big factor in deciding whether you fail or succeed is how you talk to yourself, especially when things go wrong. This is a good book to read if you're one of those people who frequently needs friends and relatives to "talk you down from the ledge." You can build the skill of thinking optimistically yourself, without putting that burden on other people - AND without discounting some of the very real benefits of pessimism.

In other words, Seligman doesn't define optimism as high self-esteem, or the power of positive thinking, or any nonsense. It's really just correcting a disordered way of thinking - all of the negative beliefs a person can hold without challenging them. If it came from you, it must be true, right? WRONG. So wrong. Say you want to write a novel. If writing a novel seems shrouded in mystery, if you have a deep pessimism that you can never hold back the curtain in writing it, you'll fulfill that prophesy. You'll get the same results as if you really didn't have the ability. Either you'll give up somewhere along the way, or you'll write a crappy book.

Optimism is endurance. That's all. This book can give you some tools for retraining. ( )
  stacy_chambers | Aug 22, 2013 |
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Learned Optimism is an important work in the self-help field because it provides a scientific foundation for many claims. The book is not simply about optimism but about the validity of personal change and the dynamic nature of the human condition.
added by mikeg2 | editCityWire, Tom Butler-Bowden (Apr 1, 2011)
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yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

- e. e cummings, "love is a place", No Thanks (1935)
This book is dedicated with optimism about our future to my newborn, Lara Catrina Seligman
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The father is looking down into the crib at his sleeping newborn daughter, just home from the hospital.
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Optimism wins!
Use A-B-C-D-E mode
To clarify mind.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671019112, Paperback)

Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and clinical researcher, has been studying optimists and pessimists for 25 years. Pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time, and undermine everything. They feel helpless and may sink into depression, which is epidemic today, especially among youths. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge--it doesn't knock them down. "Pessimism is escapable," asserts Seligman, by learning a new set of cognitive skills that will enable you to take charge, resist depression, and make yourself feel better and accomplish more.

About two-thirds of this book is a psychological discussion of pessimism, optimism, learned helplessness (giving up because you feel unable to change things), explanatory style (how you habitually explain to yourself why events happen), and depression, and how these affect success, health, and quality of life. Seligman supports his points with animal research and human cases. He includes tests for you and your child--whose achievement may be related more to his or her level of optimism/pessimism than ability. The final chapters teach the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism, with worksheet pages to guide you and your child. --Joan Price

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:46 -0400)

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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 Optimism is both profound and practical-and valuable for every phase of life. --Publisher.… (more)

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