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Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life Paperback – December 29, 2009


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Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life + Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection + Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307393747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307393746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Positive psychology pioneer Fredrickson introduces readers to the power of harnessing happiness to transform their lives, backed up by impressive lab research. The author lays out the core truths and 10 forms of positivity—joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love—in a book that promises to change the way people look at feeling good. Disdainful of Pollyannaism, Fredrickson remains realistic in her treatment and provides scientific evidence to illustrate her findings that maintaining a 3:1 positivity ratio of positive thoughts to negative emotions creates a tipping point between languishing and flourishing. The book includes compelling case studies, concrete tips, a Positivity Self Test and a tool kit for decreasing negativity and raising the positivity ratio. Although many of Fredrickson's methods and theories (notes on meditation and karma) will seem familiar to anyone versed in yoga or eastern religions, the scientific foundation of her arguments and additional online resources (www.positivityratio.com) offer readers a chance to experiment with positivity and very possibly lead richer lives. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Written by one of the most influential contributors to this new perspective in science, Positivity provides a wonderful synthesis of what positive psychology has accomplished in the first decade of its existence. It is full of deep insights about human behavior as well as useful suggestions for how to apply them in everyday life."
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., author of Flow

"Positivity is literally the feel-good book of the year, providing a scientifically sound prescription for joy, health, and creativity. Read one to two chapters daily as needed or until grumpiness subsides."
—Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Barbara's approach is very scientific, basing all of this text off years of her and her colleagues research.
Dave C
Fredrickson asserts that if you are at or above a 3 to 1 ratio of positive emotion to negative emotions on average, you will flourish opposed to languish.
MPR
It really helped to listen to it, too, and I was surprised at how much I had missed the first time through by just reading the book.
A

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

232 of 249 people found the following review helpful By GirlScoutDad on May 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Okay, don't get me wrong: I'm not a grumpy sourpuss intent on raining on the parade of Positive Psychology books published in recent years. I'm actually a mental health professional, a big fan of positive psychology, and I offer workshops to people on bringing positive psychology principles and tools into their lives. Fredrickson is an accomplished researcher, and her writing is pleasing at times. However, her main thesis (that we should strive to experience 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion) is vague and impractical, and her recommendations for how to do so are better and more comprehensively stated elsewhere (such as in Martin Seligman's Authentic Happines or his more recent work, Flourishing). Given the avalanche of positive psychology books raining down on the unsuspecting public nowadays, one must be discerning in which ones to read and purchase, and while this is not a bad book, I didn't find it to be the most helpful or well-written one - especially in contrast to Seligman's magnum opus "Flourishing", which was, unfortunately for Fredrickson, published at nearly the same time.

The strength of the book is in the early section, where the author explains her theory of positive and negative emotions, and describes her list of the 10 positive emotions that we would all benefit from having more of in our lives. Fredrickson asserts that negative emotions aid human survival by narrowing and limiting what we perceive as our range of actions, while positive emotions aid survival by "broadening and building" our options for actions. For example, the negative emotion of "fear" of, say, a predator, limits our idea of possible actions to "run for your life".
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110 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Cornelius on August 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read 4 books on the subject of positive psychology and this here was my least favorite. It isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I'll outline my final judgment with a list of pros and cons.

Pros:

1. The author's research and contribution to the field of positive psychology is both interesting and useful. The awareness that positive emotions "broaden and build" is insightful and intuitively makes sense.

2. Decent introduction and overview of positive emotions and psychology.

3. Some useful exercises.

Cons:

1. Much of the book is written in a way that, like many self help books, is just bloated. The author, like many others, spends pages and pages telling you what the book is going to do for you when it could be telling what it should be telling you so that it could do something for you. In short, I don't want a book to spend pages and pages pumping me up by telling me what it's going to do for me over and over. It's like a bad infomercial and a complete waste of pages.

2. There are better books out there on this subject, one of which is titled "The How of Happiness" and which I found to just be better in every respect.

My suggestion is to read the research from the author of "Positivity...", as it seems to be an important and consistently reproduced contribution to the field, and get "The How of Happiness".
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145 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Reader from Washington, DC VINE VOICE on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dear Friends: I am somewhat disappointed with this book. The author is clearly a very brilliant scholar in her field, and writes clearly and in an interesting manner.

But she is more focused on how her scientific studies and those of her colleagues provided some of the first testable scientific evidence for the value of increasing one's positive emotions than she is in presenting how the results of those studies can be implemented by people with serious life problems seeking to increase their "positivity."

Some of her techniques involve going to her website, recording daily monitoring of one's emotions, and voluntering to add the reader's results to her database. That's a clever way to find new study volunteers, but not what I'd expect in a self-help book.

Her recommendations for troubled seekers are surprisingly few and bland, given the intense, in-depth amount of research she has clearly done in this field. The book also needed a stronger editor, as there is much repetition of material.

I was also surprised by her showcasing of certain Buddhist techniques that can be used to increase "positivity" with any acknowledgement that similar or identical techniques exist in other religions and spiritualities, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She appeared unaware that the common elements of mysticism and meditation are not confined to Buddhism.

In addition, the examples given in the book of people benefiting from its principles are largely of happily married people with children where everything turned out well for them when they implemented the very few "positivity" techniques that the author suggests

I wondered -- what about the people who implemented these "positivity" techniques, but still had to deal with unfortunate outcomes?
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kerry on August 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book's premise - that happiness can be summoned via a magic ratio of 3 positive statements for every negative statement - originated in an academic paper that Frederickson published in 2005. That paper employed a mathematical model used by physicists and engineers to model complex nonlinear systems. The author claimed she could apply the same approach to human interactions to derive a scientifically-testable model for producing happiness.

The problem is that Frederickson's paper was fiction. She plugged some impressive-looking equations in, made up a story that would get her published, and moseyed straight on to the part where she could make money by writing a book. There was never any basis to her math - she relied on her peers' inexperience to let her outrageous fraud be published without challenge.

As will eventually happen in the academic community, though, someone who knows the math that Frederickson faked read her paper and published a detailed analysis of her falsehoods. When asked to defend her work, Frederickson said she had "neither the expertise nor the insight" (her words) to understand what she had written and attested to be true, and what she now wants you to give her money for the privilege of reading. After she was caught Frederickson's choices became admitting she is stupid or admitting she is a liar. She chose the first, but both are true.

If you're looking for wisdom about how to nurture people and relationships, there are far better authorities to advise you. If you're looking for practices backed by science, you can do far better than a book whose author larks around writing whatever will get her published and, when her luck finally runs out, can't even come up with a better excuse than "math is hard".
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