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Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology Hardcover – December 31, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0199916351 ISBN-10: 0199916357 Edition: 1st
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Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology + A Primer in Positive Psychology (Oxford Positive Psychology Series) + Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Blog Post by Christopher Peterson (Featured in Psychology Today)

Days are Long-Life is Short By Christopher Peterson, Ph.D. Created Dec 28 2009-4:10pm

I hope that no one thinks that a writer of blog entries about "the good life" (i.e., me) has it all together. Competitive soul that I am, I bet I could trounce most of you who read my entries on formal measures of neuroticism and rumination. As a writer, I try to convey a public persona of being somewhat evolved and somewhat wise. Believe me, it ain't so. As much as anyone and maybe more than most, I get mired down in the minutiae and hassles of everyday life. I fret about the ever-growing number of e-mail messages that inhabit my inbox. I worry that people may not like me, even and especially people I don't like myself. I putter way too much, sometimes spending as much time formatting a scholarly paper as I do researching and writing it. I fill up many of my days doing small things that do not matter. I know it, but sometimes I can't help myself.

A common inside joke among research psychologists is that we study those topics that we simply do not get. In some cases, this is obvious. Myopic psychologists seem more likely to study vision than their 20-20 colleagues. Out-of-shape psychologists seem more likely to study physical fitness, and unmarried psychologists seem more likely to study marriage.

Following this line of reasoning, are positive psychologists less than positive? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I could characterize the major academic players in positive psychology as walking the walk versus talking the talk, but they are my friends and my colleagues, happy or not, and I will respect their privacy. It's probably enough that I have just outed myself as needing further work. Indeed, gossip is not my point, Rather, my point is to discuss an enemy of the good life, one that is my particular demon but also one that may plague others: getting mired down in the unpleasant details and demands of everyday life. Sometimes people are urged to live in the moment. I think this advice needs to be qualified by understanding what the moment entails. To paraphrase Albert Ellis, if the moment in which we live is draped in ought's and should's, it is probably better not to live in it.

Everyday life of course poses demands, and I am not saying that we should ignore those we do not like. I am simply saying - to myself, if no one else - to keep the bigger picture in mind. Things not worth doing are not worth doing obsessively. There must be an ancient Buddhist aphorism that makes my point profoundly, but I'll just say it bluntly, in plain 21st century Americanese: Don't sweat the small stuff; and most of it is small stuff. Days are long. Life is short. Live it well.


"Witty, incisive, wise, tear-jerking."

-Martin P Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

"Peterson is clever, funny, and smart, and his writing reflects his quick brain."

-Kim Cameron, Associate Dean, Executive Education; William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan

"An informative review of positive psychology research married with interesting, real-world examples of living the good life." -- Psychology Today

"In his wonderful book Pursuing the Good Life, Christopher Peterson has provided the world with a precious gift. His wise, warm, witty, and insightful collection of reflections on positive psychology radiate the many strengths and virtues that are central to the field of positive psychology--humility, bravery, love, kindness, humor, citizenship, love of learning, and much more. With the lightest touch of a true master, Peterson surveys a vast territory of human experience, with blog posts on the critical focus of positive psychology, the nature of positive emotions and experiences, positive traits and talents, positive relationships, and the role of families, workplaces, schools, and geographical places in the good life. I highly recommend this book, and I will read it again and again. Sincere thanks to Christopher Peterson for his gift to the world." -Michael Hogan, PsycCRITIQUES


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199916357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199916351
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.4 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A reader VINE VOICE on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book consists of 100 very short essays or, as the author calls them, reflections, from his blog for the Psychology Today website. Many of the essays were updated for inclusion in this book and are followed by his brief annotations. His writing exudes warmth, humor (often at his own expense) and good healthy common sense about many issues in psychology that people argue endlessly about (for example, nature vs. nurture, talent vs. 10,000 hours of practice, emphasize strengths or not, etc.)

The author states in the first chapter that "positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life worth living... It is a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology." Dr. Peterson often discusses psychological studies and the process of designing and implementing them. "Other people matter" seems to be a favorite theme, which I find so refreshing. His is the voice of sanity and balance, and the little stories are fun and entertaining.

Dr. Peterson's professional accomplishments are laudable: among other things, he was one of the founders of the positive psychology movement, which has done so much for so many. Reading about his achievements, I was saddened to find out that he suddenly passed away on Oct. 9 of this year. It is indeed terribly sad that with all his probings into the nature of the good life, his own ended so abruptly.

This is a very enjoyable book, and it often brought a smile to my face. Especialy recommended for positive psychology fans.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brad Teare VINE VOICE on November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This easy to read book is broken down into 100 short chapters, most of which you can read in a few minutes. The book is based on a blog of the author's and it definitely has a blog-like tone, which can often have a chatty, self-edited flavor. But once I got into it I enjoyed the topics quite a bit even though some of the chapters are pretty easy to forget (for which I take away one star). There are memorable ones though like Growing Greatness, a review of the 10,000 hour theory of achievement. I also liked The Positive Analog of a Phobia, in which I learned about soteria (which is a positive version of a phobia). There are others all of which focus on positive aspects of human behavior.

In short, this is a readable tome with wide ranging topics, and you will most likely find some valuable information that you have not run across elsewhere.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tealover VINE VOICE on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was very excited to receive an early copy of this book. I've developed a great interest in the Positive Psychology movement. It is helping me greatly, and I'll scoop up every book I can get my hands on! So far I own Positive Psychology for Dummies, The Happiness Advantage, and now Pursuing the Good Life by none other than Dr. Christopher Peterson, one of the founders of the Positive Psychology movement!

This is a book of short reflections from the author's blog on Psychology Today (website). They are absolutely wonderfully written in a a very friendly, engaging manner. If you are not familiar with positive psychology, this book explores this field in a very understandable way.

R.I.P Dr. Peterson. He passed away in October of this year. What a wonderful contribution to humanity. Bet he's smiling down on us right now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charlene Rubush VINE VOICE on December 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author of this excellent book is Christopher Peterson. His job as a psychology professor at the University of Michigan led him to an invitation to write for the magazine Psychology Today.

There he wrote a blog titled "The Good Life" which in turn led to his blog entries becoming this book.

In the preface, Peterson writes "I learned that readers are hungry for what positive psychologists have discovered about the good life. I learned that readers like research findings. I learned that readers also like practical implications of positive psychology theory and research--the so whats. I learned that terse is good, as is a bit of humor...all of this learning is represented in the present collection."

Here are some of the chapter titles and subtitles:

* Positive Psychology and Bullshit
* Positive Emotions and Experiences
* What do You Think About in the Shower?
* Tears and Testosterone
* Dealing with the Pain of Romantic Breakups
* Infants Get it Right
* Days are Long-Life is Short

In a chapter titled "Other People Matter" (p.128) he writes about a woman named Nancy Makin, who once weighed 703 pounds. For years she was housebound and lonely, allowing only her immediate family to see her. Then her sister gave her a computer as a gift.

Makin, now armed with Internet access and an interest in politics, began surfing chat rooms, where she made friends. Connecting online, they could not judge her by her appearance.

Little by little, her self-esteem rose and she began to lose weight. There were no special diets, pills or surgery. For her, feeling happier about herself started the weight loss, and feeling happier about herself was the result of her new friends.
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