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125 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2006
At Coaching Toward Happiness and at MentorCoach, we

write about the leading figures in positive psychology

and in coaching and talk to them in live

teleconference interviews. We interviewed

Chris three times. His new book is exceptional.

Here's why:

===================

1. It's The Best.

===================

Okay. This is arguably the best introduction to positive

psychology ever written. It ties all the key issues

together in a compelling way. It provides understanding,

depth, rich resources, and it's fun to read.

=========================

2. It's Reader-Friendly.

=========================

It's a large trade paperback, 314 pages. Rich with fascinating

detail, web sites, movies, overarching explanations of research.

Bad writing makes the reader feel dumb. Good writing makes the

reader feel smart. Chris makes you feel smart.

===================

3. If You Teach.

===================

If you teach positive psychology, you have to use this book. Listen

to the founder of the field: "This is the definitive textbook in

positive psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best

textbook on any subject that I have ever read... (It) both made me

laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." -- Martin E. P. Seligman

======================================

4. For the Bright Professional

======================================

It's perfect for the curious, bright professional who's new to

positive psychology and wants to quickly get up to speed. If

you understand The Primer, you'll be ahead of 99% of the people

in your field.

==========================

5. It Sounds Like Chris.

==========================

Conversational and accessible. It reads like he talks. And it

reads like a conversation with someone who's twice won the

honor of best teacher at the University of Michigan.

======================================

6. It Has Tiny Throw-Away Nuggets.

======================================

The words "positive psychology" were first used, not by Seligman

in 1998, but Maslow in 1954. "...The smiley-face icon was created

for a life insurance company in 1964 by a Massachusetts graphic

artist, who was paid $45 for his creation. Neither the insurance

company nor artist Harvey Bell copyrighted the symbol which

has--perhaps as a result--become extremely popular."

===================

7. The Songs.

===================

Each chapter ends with films and dozens of Chris' favorite, relevant

songs: "Be True to Your School" (Beach Boys); "Get Up, Stand Up"

(Bob Marley & the Wailers), "To Sir, With Love" (LuLu); "I Feel

Good" (James Brown); "My Sweet Lord" (George Harrison). Walking

on Sunshine" (Katrina & the Waves). He admits to being a baby

boomer and knows it shows in his song choice. He also believes

a relevant song is a great way to signal the beginning of a class.

=========================

8. Personal Usefulness.

=========================

You might even find it personally useful. Of the thousands of

suggestions for increasing happiness that have been proffered

in the last fifty years, indeed over the centuries, which have

so far been empirically examined? It goes beyond the headlines

and looks in detail at what the research might really mean for what

you do.

=======================

9. It's Unpretentious.

=======================

In 2003, I sometimes taught a teleclass from Chris' office at Penn.

His entire office consisted of a computer, a bare floor, one table

and chair, and a bookshelf with 15 scattered books. Nothing to

indicate, for example, that he was among the world's 100 most

frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years.

The Primer is similarly down to earth. Name one other famous academic

who would write this paragraph:

"...some skeptics still believe that positive psychologists miss

the "obvious" point that life is tragic... I disagree but will

not belabor the point except to note that tragedy admits to

gradations. Even if everything sucks, some things suck more

than others, an irrefutable fact given how people actually behave

if not what they say....Whether we label ...preferred circumstances

"positive" or "less sucky" then becomes a matter of semantics (P. 13)."

======================================

10. Find the Tenth Reason Yourself.

======================================

Chris was the lead creator of the VIA Survey of Signature Strengths,

a central positive psychology assessment. More than 300,000 people

from throughout the world have taken it. Who better to write about the

importance of individual strengths and values than the world's leading

expert? This is just one part of this book. You'll be able to find

many more than the "tenth" reason when you read him.

And, even better, if you'd also like to *listen* to him talk about

his work, you can. There are three free online interviews--two also

available by telephone--in the archive of the Coaching Toward

Happiness eNewsletter. Amazon's ground rules preclude my telling

you the url but if you google ["Coaching Toward Happiness" + Chris Peterson], you'll find them.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2007
A Primer in Positive Psychology delivers a text full of the details from what has been concept for a decade. With the field of Positive Psychology coming to the point of being a deliverable product to the public, Dr. Peterson frames up a concise text of understandable background on what we are and how positive strategies of behavior throughout the lifetime can benefit all people. This establishes the goal of making Positive Psychology a core life training for students at all levels of education, beginning with primary stages. This textbook format gives parents the tools for themselves and their young adult children to teach themselves the principles of excelling at life, not just surviving it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2008
I confess that I gave up reading "Authentic Happiness" half-way through, so I was not biased toward positive psychology. However, this was a text for a PP coaching class I took, and I liked it a lot -- very clear, straight-forward, easy to understand, full of substantive and interesting research, and even a bit of humor. I found myself looking forward to reading the assignments. My only fuss (which the author says he'll rectify in the next edition) is an inherent testosterone bias, (e.g., a key element of happiness is "winning," expressed in masculine terms rather than the kind of fulfillment that a soccer mom might get from raising great kids). Altogether a good explication of the rationale and value of positive psychology.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2007
When I first heard of "positive psychology" I thought..."so what is negative psychology supposed to be?" The terminology shouldn't hang you up. Positive psychology is a look a what psychology can be sans the illness orientation. What this means is that you are really studying how people can use their minds without concentrating on how that thing they do with their hair is an obvious sign of their insecurity, their masturbatory tendencies, or their love affair with their anal stage of development. The book has great information but is not written in a stuffy or pretentious way. Without a doubt it is one of the most readable psychology books I've ever had the pleasure of recommending. Even though the author supplies the reader with tons of references to help him in his continued study, for the casual reader this book can easily stand by itself. If you are lucky enough to get this as a text book in college enjoy the course and the professor wise enough to chose this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
If you're looking for an accessible foundation in positive psychology that is content rich, research-based and practical, then this book is for you.

It's used as a college textbook by the author/professor at U of Michigan who is a pioneer in the field, but it's much more interesting and humorous than the textbooks I've read for my college classes. It doesn't have that typical textbook feeling, but it's richer in ideas than what is on the mass market on happiness.

And there are exercises to try out in your life to improve your happiness at the end of each chapter. The author is brilliant and articulate. He's won teaching awards at U of M:you feel like you're in his classroom being taught by him without having to pay tuition--and that's positive! I learned about this book on a list of top 10 books on Happiness & Positive Psychology. It's a great book for psychology students, coaches, practicing psychologists and regular folk interested in the evolving and transforming field of positive psychology.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2014
Chris Peterson, award-winning Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, was among the world’s 100 most widely cited psychologists over the past twenty years and is one of the founding fathers of positive psychology. Peterson’s book gives a comprehensive and compelling overview on positive psychology, essentially the scientific study of what goes right in life and how we can use these insights to help all of us live the good life. This ‘bible’ of positive psychology offers an excellent mix of theory, case studies, exercises and resources for further exploration.

I met Chris Peterson in 2008 as part of a course I attended on the science of positive psychology and this was one of our class reads. It was an eye opener of how ~40% of our well being (our happiness) is up to us. And to discover what my signature strengths were and how I could use them more, in novel ways and feel energized and in the flow. I recommend you read his footnotes – they are pearls of insight and full of personal anecdotes – many have caused me to break out in loud laughter, regardless of where I was, be it in my own private home, on the train or in a Pain Quotidien in Midtown.

He often would close his lectures with saying "Other people matter". So true.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2010
During undergrad at Umich, I actually bought this book to read during a winter break when I realized I wouldn't be able to take Chris's course as an elective. A Primer feels less like a textbook, though it's layout, organization and content are far more useful and practical than most anything I've ever read in Psychology.

While A Primer is technically a textbook, it can be read through many lenses and angles and be used as a tool for personal and professional growth. The research is interesting and credible, and shows how Positive Psychology has deep roots under many names. Five stars 100%.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Every Positive Psychologist I know has bought Chris' book, "A Primer in Positive Psychology." It is an icon just as Chris was, the kindest, most brilliant and witty teddy bear of a man. Just as this book rocked and still rocks out world, knowing Chris wrote it makes it all the more relevant and precious. A pioneer in Positive Psychology, this book is like an upbeat history book that I know will be relevant and referenced forever. Just looking at the cover of it will rev up your best self life. To know Chris was to love him. I was blessed to take several classes from him at Mentor Coach,and he was voted the best, most loved professor. He was one of a kind, the BEST kind. Like this book filled with so much optimism, Chris' writing reflected the man that he was, easy yet immensely brilliant, creative, and a socially fun gem. "Other People Matter. Period." That was Chris. I treasure the pictures I have of him at a conference. I also remembering him sweetly putting Nansook Park, his research partner, into several shots with him. This book is like Chris. Pure platinum.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2012
I am currently in a wellbeing psychology class that uses this textbook. To say that it, and the course, has changed my life is an understatement. As an older, nontraditional student, it has been fascinating to learn things about myself that I had no idea were there. As one who has always thought of psychology as a catalog of disorders and dysfunctions, reading instead about what makes life good and meaningful has been refreshing. I highly recommend this book not only to psychology students, but for anyone who wants their wellbeing to grow and blossom.

I was very sad to learn of Dr. Peterson's passing. The field of positive psychology has definitely lost an incredible man. I am a senior psychology major preparing for graduate work in counseling. I plan on using some of Dr. Peterson's thoughts on positive psychology within my career, not to mention carry his many words of wisdom with me for the rest of my life.

Although the field of psychology has lost Dr. Peterson, he has left a legacy that will endure through every life that he has touched, including my own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2013
I have read about five books on positive psychology in the past five years and this is a rich addition to my collection. Dr. Peterson does a great job of defining the field and provides clear and useful interpretations of its components such as pleasure and positive experience, explanatory styles, character strengths and virtues and accomplishments. He also provides several exercises that I have found to be useful with some of my eighth-grade students and parents.

if you want to become familiar with the principles of Positive Psychology this book is pretty close to perfect. If you want to apply some of the principles to your personal life or to your work it is also useful but probably not as much as some of the other how to books out there.
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