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Breaking Murphy's Law: How Optimists Get What They Want from Life - and Pessimists Can Too Hardcover – June 26, 2006

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a knowledgeable and witty book that delivers the science of optimism in an informed and accessible manner. Dr. Segerstrom is a master of the area, combining expertise in mental health with sophisticated biological knowledge and the practical bent that makes the information useful for getting around the roadblocks of day-to-day life."--Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; author of Positive Illusions

"Breaking Murphy's Law is a wonderful counterpoint to the many self-help books out there that emphasize trying to be happy. Dr. Segerstrom shows how the headlong pursuit of happiness can actually be self-defeating, while effective optimism--focusing on motivation and persistence--can lead both to good feelings and genuine success in life. A 'must read.'"--Ed Diener, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; editor, Journal of Happiness Studies

"The message in this book contradicts many popular myths and is based on the scientific study of optimism. Dr. Segerstrom shows us ways to change our lives to become healthier and more fulfilled. In a world awash with misinformed pop psychology, this scientific recipe for the good life is a breath of fresh air."--Alan Carr, PhD, School of Psychology, University College Dublin, Ireland; author of Positive Psychology

"Suzanne Segerstrom is a rising star in the new science of positive psychology, and this book shows why. Written in very accessible and engaging prose, it integrates shrewd insights with the latest research findings on the healing power of optimism. Dr. Segerstrom gets to the bottom of optimism and demonstrates why it is good for our bodies and minds. Hard work, personal action, and positive outcomes: a science-based recipe for success."--Robert A. Emmons, PhD, coauthor of Words of Gratitude for Mind, Body, and Soul; Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

"The book imparts the lessons of years of research on optimism with humor, thoughtfulness, and a convincing amount of evidence that is possible to break 'Murphy's Law' through optimistic expectations....Breaking Murphy's Law demonstrates that merely believing more positively will not lead to greater well-being and life satisfaction. Rather, success and happiness lie in the persistent motivational strategies that optimists adopt."--PsycCRITIQUES
(PsycCRITIQUES 2007-09-03)

(Library 2007-09-03)

"Segerstrom backs up her words with tons of scientific research...She lightens it with humor in unexpected places, and makes a compelling argument."--Newsday
(Newsday 2007-09-03)

About the Author

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. She has conducted extensive research on the relationship between optimism and well-being. Dr. Segerstrom's work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Norman Cousins Program, and the Dana Foundation. She is also a winner of the prestigious Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, awarded in recognition of her work on optimism. She lives near Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and their dogs.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (June 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593852096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593852092
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,688,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Randall S. Deutsch on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was at first hesitant to purchase this book with its title seemingly dreamed-up by a marketing department that hadn't read the book, an unfortunate mismatch for the academic credentials and soon-to-discovered depth of the author. Being an optimist myself, I took a chance on the book and am I glad that I did. Admittedly at first, some of the cited studies and findings seemed familiar from the media. But gratefully that turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg for what in every way is an in-depth, thorough review of this all-important topic. The author's tone is both professional and personable, and especially in the footnotes, funny. Cover to cover the author's a great reading companion and this is especially a perfect end-of-summer/autumn read that will help you to see the brighter, sunny side of life even if optimism doesn't come naturally to you. The message of the book is ultimately encouraging for those who aren't born optimists. Without making frequent reference to it, this book is a fine addition to the growing literature of Happiness and Positive Psychology.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Thomasson on October 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I respect the author's intelligence and research on the subject of optimism. The book is mainly a compilation of statistics from studies performed to show how optimists and pessimists approach life differently. If you are interested, as a psychologist perhaps, in the phenomenon of optimism, then this will be an enjoyable read. However, if you are a pessimist looking for ways to change your nature, you will have to read a very long time in this book before anything close to advice is given.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. P. Page on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book. It covers positive psychology (happiness/optimism/goal setting/motivation) in great depth and over a broad range of applications. The author stresses that the rewards of optimism are attained by "doing" optimism rather than just thinking optimistically. Based on this premise, the book is very pragmatic and can actually be applied to improve the quality of your experience..

The tone of the book was fairly scientific and included many case studies to support the author's conclusions. The only thing that prevents me from awarding five stars, is the fact that, at times, the writing style felt more like I was reading a doctoral dissertation instead of a book for the general population. I actually enjoyed the scientific nature of the book; however it just gets a bit dense/dry in certain parts with a bit of unecessary repetition. This, however, does not tarnish the overall message and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

The bottom line . . . if you want a book that explores positive psychology in greater depth than some of the platitude-filled feel good books in this genre than this is the book for you!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mogs on December 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is very, very good.

It's the best one I have come across so far for HOW to become more optimistic.

I found it more helpful than the Martin Seligman books, which favours changing your thinking.

This book made me feel like there was so much more I could do about my pessimism, even when the trying to think positive wasn't working so well.

This book is about doing as optimists do, and your thoughts and feelings will follow behind.

Examples are once a week for 5 min, for a problem you have, writing 3 things in a journal that can help you make the problem easier and help you fix it.

The following week you review if your suggestions are working and then change or modify it if it's not working, or continue if it's working well. That's it for 5 mins a week!

This small exercise made people feel increasingly happier over the weeks in studies, leads to an upwards spiral of optimism and was extremely powerful. This book is full of suggestions like this, and has many studies on what actually worked to make people feel more optimistic and get into an upward spiral.

A goldmine of advice, really valuble. Brilliant!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on March 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hum. I find it interesting that so many people enjoyed this book. I wouldn't necessarily classify this as a "self help book". I think it's more an interesting look at the mind of the optimist, who according to the author lives a more fulfilling life. I thought the research was very interesting...but I found the book to be fairly redundant and dry at times. I also found it to be some what of a downer. (But then again...I am a pessimist thus the reason for purchasing the book.) It seems to be more of a pat on the head for optimists...then goes on to say that this is really a nature you're born with and it's pretty difficult to change. She keeps this up throughout the book, then towards the end throws one or two things you can do to change this.
Journal 3 positive things a day. I'm pretty sure I could have come up with that myself.
It really just left me feeling that I was born this way and there's not much I can do to change it.

I'm typically a lover of self help books, so I wouldn't classify myself as a lost cause...but I guess I just didn't mesh well with this one.

Two stars for for researching a psychological term paper. Negative 3 for being classified as a Self Help book.
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