Customer Reviews: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
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Showing 1-10 of 18 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on January 9, 2001
This book is NOT a good self-help book. The interested reader would be better off reading Richard Burns,Aaron Beck or Edmund Bourne. Rather it provides scientific evidence of how / why cognitive therapy works - Dr Seligman gives details of the various "experiments" he has conducted over the years and how he has put the results to good use in industry / sport and personal health.
The evidence is clearly provided and well-written in an upbeat style. The actual self-help part of the book only lasts about 20 or 30 pages - most of the book gives the background and examples of where cognitive therapy has been used succesfully.
If you need help with anxiety, depression etc this book is not the first recommendation (see above) - however if you are interested in the background of how cognitive therapy developed, along with the evidence to support its use then it is a quite enjoyable read.
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on December 7, 2009
I'll start by admitting that I had high expectations having read a glowing description by Anthony Robbins from his book Awaken the Giant. From his description and other descriptions of Learned Optimism I felt I finally had a tool to help me change the way I viewed the world. At almost three hundred pages I assumed this contained lots of valuable information that would help me and others. That was an incorrect assumption on my part.
What should have been a short background on other psychological viewpoints that the author disputes became a long one. This was followed by a lot of the author's personal history which could have been condensed. It also contained narratives about how he came to his conclusions as well as the growth and evolution of his ideas. For some reason I got personal history of his lab assistant and others he met over the years. This might interest me if I were a psychologist or a colleague but the book advertises itself as a self-help book. The full title is: Learned Optimism- HOW to change your mind and your life. It isn't: Learned Optimism- the history of psychology and how I came to write this book.
Aside from some pages in the beginning that are used to label our viewpoint as optimistic, pessimistic, etc the real self-help stuff doesn't show up until the last third of the book. That means you have to plow through two hundred pages to get what you paid for. The information in the last third really could have been condensed further.
All together, I think there is about twenty pages of self-help material her and that is allowing for an abbreviated section on the background of the author and psychology in general. Allowing for practical examples and self-tests I'll call it fifty pages--not three hundred.
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on September 26, 2014
Dr. Seligman's self-aggrandizing tone got the book off to a rough start for me. I agree with other commenters that the "HOW" is not present until part 3. I'd heard many of the other evidence, including the "learned helplessness" dog study, in other materials. I also felt that his example statements to counteract the "Me-Always-Everything" pessimistic mindset were overly externalizing. If you're looking for an overview of the studies of optimism and helplessness, this book may interest you.

For practical advice, I recommend "The Resilience Factor", which references many of the ideas in this book, but has implementation guidelines as well. "Feeling Good" also has useful exercises, even if the example conversations can get a little tedious.

Keep in mind that learning and executing the techniques takes practice, which is something that The Resilience Factor rightly emphasizes.

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles by Karen Reivich
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D., M.D. Burns
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on March 8, 2008
I came to this book with high hopes, having recently had a huge improvements after reading Bryan Tracy's fantastic Time Power I thought that a extra zing of optimism would do me good and that this book would help me archive it - I was wrong and here is why.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this book contains allot of compelling evidence that being a optimist beats being a pessimist. This can hardly come to a surprise to anyone, but nevertheless the author drags your through one depressing example after the other, speculating about how a more optimistic approach would have saved the day.

As remarked earlier this is not new knowledge nor are most readers so socially defunct as to require this repeated a 100 times. What would have been new was factual plans on how to side track this train of gloomy thoughts. Many techniques exists such as positive affirmations, index cards containing optimal wording for desirable behavior, promising improvements to others and so on - but none are presented here. In short I think the author missed a golden opportunity, he certainly has his facts rights, but provides no answers.
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on December 2, 2015
This is the usual psychobabble. The author is a famous "authority". I am saying this ironically--I guess he is an authority because he is the "author". As with most of these "brilliant" theoretical psychological insights, his conclusions are either patently obvious or absurdly inapplicable.
The book put me to sleep.
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on January 4, 2009
The book makes some excellent and rather useful points regarding learned optimism, cognitive therapy, and thought patterns. It also contains some useful inventory tests. However, this whole book could've probably been written in around half the space. It is very redundant. Again, good info but he is long winded and could explain the whole book much more quickly and efficiently. I consider checking it out at a library first.
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on December 28, 2015
My expectation of this book has been reised too high by the book title and by the marketing poweer of the name "Martin Seligman". However I was little disappointed because the book is not telling anything newer then cognitive therapy.
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on October 11, 2012
This book was disappointing. From the title, I thought it will teach you how to be optimistic but it went on circles without focusing on the key optimistic ability and how to acquire those skills.
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on September 28, 1999
I'm not dismissing this book altogether - it has some points of interest, but I fail to see how the findings of Dr. Seligman and others are as original or groundbreaking as he suggests. Too much of the book is devoted to descriptions of research methodology, various anecdotes and praise for colleagues. The few chapters on actually learning optimism amount to some rather generic techniques for keeping the right perspective and avoiding the negative. The fact of the matter is that we often lose sight of a few simple truths in life. It's more helpful to have them articulated to us in a way that resonates than to read about experimental design, who deserves credit for what and the science behind the obvious.
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on February 10, 2008
Maybe I should have known better because the audio book is only two CD's but I was disappointed that it's not the entire book on CD. These two CD's contain a fraction of information from the book. I think the book is so full of essential information that the audio CD's only contain a small piece of the author's subject.
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