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371 of 385 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Book - Evidence That Changed Me From a Pessimist To An Optimist
I have always been very skeptical of all "self help" books, believing they were mainly fluff and a waste of time. On a whim I thought I would buy this book since it was written by a psychologist and clinical researcher, and claimed to have evidence that optimists actually do succeed more and accomplish more.

As stated earlier, the author is a psychologist and...
Published on November 30, 2006 by E. N. Cook

versus
584 of 643 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More of a "why..." than a "how to..." book.
This was a fairly interesting read. Seligman spends 80% of the book discussing what he has discovered about learned optimism over the years, and what other researchers have found on the subject. All of this information helps build an strong case for the idea that we humans can, and should, learn to be more optimistic.
That being said, I gave this book such a low...
Published on April 15, 2004 by Renaaah


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371 of 385 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Book - Evidence That Changed Me From a Pessimist To An Optimist, November 30, 2006
By 
E. N. Cook "linedrivehit" (Montgomery, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (Paperback)
I have always been very skeptical of all "self help" books, believing they were mainly fluff and a waste of time. On a whim I thought I would buy this book since it was written by a psychologist and clinical researcher, and claimed to have evidence that optimists actually do succeed more and accomplish more.

As stated earlier, the author is a psychologist and clinical researcher who has spent the majority of his life studying learned helplessness and optimism. After many clinical trials, he has been hired in many "real world" situations (including Met Life Insurance and sports teams) to improve results and test optimism and success. The results are astounding. The book describes the results using these real-life projects. As evidenced by these studies, optimism helps persons succeed in business, sports, politics, health, school, and literally all walks of life.

The book demonstrated over and over again how I was handicapping myself by being negative and a pessimist. I am a very logical person and it took a book like this, written factually instead of emotionally, to open my eyes to pessimism. Since reading this book, I have dedicated myself to being an optimist, and I must say I have already noticed major differences in my life. I am succeeding at things I never would have even attempted before, and I have become very resilient in non-favorable situations. I have surprised myself over and over again.

Not too many "life changing" books come along, but this book was definitely one for me. If you are a pessimist, this book can transform your life. If you are average or only slightly positive, this book can improve your life greatly. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
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338 of 352 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising and Convincing, September 15, 1999
By 
The thing that consistently surprised me about this book was the way that the author was able to provide extensive scientific verification for his claims. Most "self-help" books have anecdotal evidence at best to support their hypotheses. This book solidly supports its conclusions by means of numerous formal studies. Moreover, some of the material is very counter-intuitive. Attitudes one would have assumed were optimistic turn out to be pessimistic, and vice-versa.
Seligman shows repeatedly where actual, testable predictions have been made based on his notions of optimism/pessimism, and the predictions have turned out to be well-founded. This requires careful, systematic definitions of terms, which he provides.
Equally interesting was Seligman's analysis of the consequenses of optimism and pessimism, and his demonstration that optimism can be learned, with beneficial results that extend well beyond "feeling good."
I highly recommend this book.
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161 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent self-help work that is both very readable and extremely compelling, August 9, 2006
This review is from: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (Paperback)
I am a psychologist myself, and ever since i first began studying psychology, I have been fascinated by the work of Dr. Seligman. Once I started working as a therapist, I purchased and this book to facilitate my work with clients. Dr. Seligman is a talented, amusing, and engaging writer who presents an extremely pursuasive review of his research into the effects of learned optimism on mood, performance, health, etc. Because his research includes areas as diverse as including health (showing greater breast cancer survival rates for those who are more optimistic), sales success (proving that optimistic salesman are more successful), and sports/politics (providing evidence that both sports teams and political candidates are more likely to win when optimism is increased), his methods are beleivable to even the most die-hard psychological skeptic.

Dr. Seligman explains your attribution style--that is, how you explain your successes/failures--can have a major impact on mood as well as all of the other dimensions mentioned above. He provides the reader with a concrete, easily understandible model to asses their own thinking style, emphasizing that being able to monitor your thoughts is the first step towards changing them. Finally, he presents a simple plan for changing though patterns which involves easy to implement steps. This book will definitely help you to better understand how your thought patterns affect your mood and how to go about making changes in order to live a happier, healthier life; highly recommended.
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127 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Stuff Works, November 24, 1999
By A Customer
I am a commercial real estate broker. Some years back, when I was involved in apartment rentals, and shortly after the first edition of the book was published, I decided, in an effort to enhance my production, to try the "Adversity-Belief-Consequences-Disputation-Energization" technique the author described. I was nothing short of amazed at the results. My production shot up! I had the two best months ever in the business. Perhaps luck was involved, but I have repeated the process numerous times over the years, particularly when I am suffering from an emotional lull, and invariably, something positive happens to me, in either my business or personal life. There is something almost eerie about this, and frankly if I didn't experience this myself, I doubt I would believe someone else recounting the same experience. I can only assume that by requiring you to LOGICALLY come up with reasons for thinking positively (rather than the b.s. along the lines of "I'm getting better and better every day")this manifests itself in small, subtle but detectible changes in your behavior. I highly recommend this book as a "thinking man's" self-help book, for people who are too well-educated to respond to meaningless self-talk.
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584 of 643 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More of a "why..." than a "how to..." book., April 15, 2004
By 
Renaaah "Renaaah" (Bronxville, New York) - See all my reviews
This was a fairly interesting read. Seligman spends 80% of the book discussing what he has discovered about learned optimism over the years, and what other researchers have found on the subject. All of this information helps build an strong case for the idea that we humans can, and should, learn to be more optimistic.
That being said, I gave this book such a low rating because I feel that the title is completely misleading. I didn't want to read all sorts of information about WHY changing my mind and life is important and possible. I wanted to learn HOW, and that's what the title promises.
To be sure, there are some suggestions of how to learn optimism, but such little space in the book is dedicated to this topic that I felt misled and "ripped off" by the title.
It's like reading a book called "Instructions for Knitting a Sweater for your Baby" and discovering that only the last chapter is in fact instructive; the first 100 pages are about the history of knitting, the need for babies to wear sweaters, what happens to those poor babies who don't wear sweaters, and why the author considers himself to be the best darn knitter in the entire county. Enough already!
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but awful audio version!, July 25, 2003
By 
sparkygal "sparkygal" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Learned Optimism (Audio Cassette)
I received this book several years ago and can say it literally changed my life. It gives great advice on how to deal with habitual pessimism and the free-floating anxiety that often accompanies it. I use the techniques in the book and they really do work. My copy is dog-eared and tattered from lots of use!! Thank you Martin Seligman!!!!!!!!
I cannot recommend the audio version. I got it several years after buying the book, thinking it would be a nice refresher. It was so badly done I was amazed. The abridged version of the book is read in a very boring style and LOTS of minutes are wasted in a detailed explanation of how to do a written self-test. I remember thinking "I can just read the instructions, why are they reading all the instructions out loud?" Horrible.
So definitely BUY the book and benefit from it, but SKIP the tape version.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You were right all along!, August 26, 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book when my mother died in 1995 and never read it. Now 6 years later I finally got around to reading it after a string of toubles had me down. For me, Seligman gave me back the faith I had lost in the validity of my own time-tested coping skills. Achievement, a high bias toward action, a low propensity to blame things on myself, and above all, an avoidance of ruminating about problems and events. I had been led to believe by people I respect that only medication and endless hours in therapy would help, dispite the fact that they never have. After reading the book I think Seligman is right, this is a lot of self-serving bunk on the part of the psychology industry, except for really severe and biologically based disorders. I found his treatment of the subject of pessimism and optimism very balanced and his rigourous research approach definately shows through in his writing. I appreciate the time the book spent explaining the research that supports Selegman's theories as I am a skeptic, especially of 'pop' psychology books written for mass comsumption. The book demonstrates that his is solid clinical and experimental psychology and not pop psycho-babble. Without this comfort level I would have tossed the book. Bad info is worse than none. It is toxic. This is good info and was greatly appreciated. Thanks 'doc'!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seligman's principles are solid and effective., October 23, 1999
By A Customer
There's a reason this book is selling so well. Seligman has been able to whittle down the tremendous amount known about the subject into three fundamental principles. There is a test in the book so you can find out in what area you are weak. I did it, and so did my wife, and we both were able to pinpoint a specific change in our way of describing negative events to ourselves that really made a difference to both of us. The fact that Seligman narrows it down to a few very effective principles makes the material much easier to understand and apply. He doesn't try to tell you everything. He focuses on just what will make a difference.
I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I'm an expert on optimism, and this book is the one I recommend more often than any other. Seligman is a careful, conscientious scientist and his conclusions are rock-solid.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great way for dealing with adversity, June 26, 2007
By 
This review is from: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (Paperback)
I've not found a more effective or compelling book than this for understanding the psychology of happiness, or a more practical method for battling onslaughts of adversity.

Seligman gives us a useful mnemonic, ABC, to help us remember his method of learned optimism. A is for Adversity: trouble hits. B is for Belief: you start explaining to yourself why this is happening -- mostly incorrectly -- based on your habitual assumptions and beliefs. C is for Consequence: you feel stressed, anxious, and depressed as your emotional response system kicks in.

So, for many of us, when something bad happens our pessimistic explanatory style tends to pick the worst possible explanation for our worry -- the most permanent, the most pervasive, and the most personal. And our inner voice keeps telling us that we are a failure, we'll always be a failure, and we'll be a failure in all things.

This sort of pessimistic response could ruin your life -- and Seligman gives us some examples where it has. But there is a better way. All beliefs are subject to question. And when we dispute our assumptions -- often formed in childhood -- we usually find that they are not well-founded. The facts are on our side.

You can use the ABC method to see things as they really are. Then you are ready to fight back. D is for Disputation: you dispute your habitual beliefs and look for alternative explanations. E is for Energization: you observe and nurture the energy that arises naturally when you throw out your assumptions and start to follow a new course.

The beauty of this approach is that you don't need to do anything except remove the obstacles that you've put in your own way. The mnemonic is a little contrived, of course, but ABCDE is easy to remember and easy to use. Consequently, I've used this method to counter many adversities -- which isn't to say that I've become, at last, an optimistic and happy person. I'm sure I'll always be a realist. But the act of disputation never fails to open up new possibilities. In fact, I find that D is all I really need to remember: Dispute or Distract -- either dispute your internal assumptions and pessimistic outlook, or distract your mind out of its cycle of worry.

A pessimistic reaction is usually an overreaction. And a pessimistic reaction doesn't make you happy. So there's no reason not to try adopting a more optimistic explanatory style, if at all possible. This book tells you how and it's destined to be a classic of the self-help literature because it provides a scientific basis for understanding the genesis of unhappiness, including the root causes of anxiety and depression, and then it gives a practical approach to solving this condition.

Positive psychology began with learned optimism, and to my mind, along with Csikszentmihalyi's book, Finding Flow, this book is the best place to start in the quest for happiness, because anything that works to improve our state of mind must address the underlying tendency we have in modern cultures to worry more than is good for us, talk ourselves into depression, and mire ourselves in passivity and inactivity.

Of course, learned optimism is not for everyone. Whenever I suggest to my kids that they use optimism, they groan. The last thing they want to hear is my interpretation of the ABC method. Or, perhaps it's for everyone to discover for themselves in their own way. But, when I'm hit with an adversity, I, at least, need an approach like this to prevent me from falling into a too-pessimistic frame of mind.

Seligman worked hard on this book and he's done a great thing. Learned Optimism has seeped into the language and promises to improve our prospects for happiness.

Graham Lawes
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great study about optimism and pessimism, July 1, 2005
By 
Before this book was published, people believed that optimism was almighty. This landmark book educates you about the reasons why people are optimistic and pessimistic and when each style of thinking is appropriate. I learned a lot about my thinking from this book. I also suggest another wonderful book, Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self, for practical information about how to understand and optimize all forms of thinking, feelings, and situations. These two books should be read in tandem, and should be part of any thinking person's library.
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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman (Paperback - January 3, 2006)
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