HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Learned optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman
Loading...

Learned optimism (edition 1992)

by Martin E. P. Seligman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,008108,543 (3.88)7
Member:caroleriley
Title:Learned optimism
Authors:Martin E. P. Seligman
Info:Milsons Point, N.S.W.: Random House Australia, 1992. 319 p. ; 21 cm.
Collections:Psychology
Rating:
Tags:psychology, Positive, Happiness, Insightability

Work details

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

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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 give up, just give up. Even the abridged version is undigestable.
Some writers are not scientists, and some scientists are not writers. That is why we need good science popularisers, who can take someone else's research and write an exciting book about it. Why the researcher will stick to what he does the best - his research. NOT. WRITING. ( )
  NatalieAsIs | Oct 23, 2014 |
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 |
"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 happen 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. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Jul 19, 2013 |
A bit repetitive at points, but still has very useful info on how to gauge your own optimism/pessimism level and why it is important. ( )
  MarkNeu | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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)
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

- e. e cummings, "love is a place", No Thanks (1935)
Dedication
This book is dedicated with optimism about our future to my newborn, Lara Catrina Seligman
First words
The father is looking down into the crib at his sleeping newborn daughter, just home from the hospital.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:56 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
172 wanted1 pay6 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.88)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 2
2.5 3
3 25
3.5 7
4 47
4.5 3
5 27

Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,285,924 books! | Top bar: Always visible