- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439190763
- ISBN-13: 978-1439190760
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being Paperback – February 7, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Seligman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the guru of the "positive psychology" movement, abandons his previous emphasis on happiness, which he now views as simplistic, to examine how individuals might achieve a richer, multilayered goal: a life of well-being. He identifies four factors that can help individuals thrive: positive emotion, engagement with what one is doing, a sense of accomplishment, and good relationships. Those expecting a guide on how to achieve these goals will be disappointed; Seligman's approach is largely conceptual and empirical, although he has some useful things to say, such as how even soldiers with PTSD can be taught resilience to recover and even grow from their traumas, and how students of all ages can be taught focus, delayed gratification, and GRIT, a combination of drive and perseverance. But Seligman includes too much on the mechanics of conducting his studies. Also, he can be self-congratulatory regarding his own theory, and harsh and reductionist on traditional treatments ("psychology-as-usual—the psychology of victims and negative emotions and alienation and pathology and tragedy"). This is a potentially important book whose impact may be limited by its flaws. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Repaves the path to true happiness. A relentlessly optimistic guidebook on finding and securing individual happiness." –Kirkus
"Important" --Publishers Weekly
"I was immediately charmed... Seligman's intentions are admirable and exciting. He is consumed by his mission, which is to take psychology on from its traditional role in alleviating misery, and broaden it into positive psychology -- the entirely different art of teaching us how to be wiser, stronger, more generous to others, more self-disciplined, and more capable of dealing with difficulty and rejection... The book is full of nuggets about why positive approaches work."
The Sunday Times
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Top customer reviews
Instead, I bought something that had an excellent intro chapter or two, but which then morphs into a something akin to a diary - what Marty did here and what Marty did there in establishing positive psychology at the university level and lots of hints about the programs Marty can put together for your organization, be it a school or army, and why that would be a good thing to do.
If you are a school principal or the Head of Department for Psychology at a tertiary education institution, this book may be a wonderful source for your presentation on why you want to get Positive Psychology going at your organisation. If you're just a person looking to improve your relationships, other books will be more helpful.
The best thing about the book is the generous references to the OTHER teachers at the monumentally expensive executive program Seligman put together - there I found a reference to an author who DOES talk exactly about what I wanted to hear. That book I bought also, and am very impressed with it.
It's a pity the book is put forward as a personal level, self-help book. After the first few chapters, it really becomes a mix of memoir and exec programme brochure.
However, it does point the buyer towards some other authors who focus on improving relationships in their books.
The field of positive psychology's main idea is that the focus of mental health has been for so long the elimination of psychological disorders and not much on the cultivation of living a richer life through a person's expression of her strengths and virtues. Positive psychology, then, is supposed to complement the traditional understanding of treating disorders with the additional goal of cultivating virtues and helping a person live a more flourishing life.
The theory of human nature that underlies positive psychology holds that people are forward- or goal-seeking individuals capable of dealing with stressors and disasters in life and concerned with increasing their well-being. And people are able to increase their well-being through positive emotion, engagement with the activities they do, positive relationships they have, and the achievements that result from the activities people engage in. These four components Seligman labels with the acronym PERMA. I'll break down PERMA to explain what each component is and how Seligman thinks you can better nourish these aspects of a life well lived.
1. Positive emotion. Positive emotion is just the set of happy feelings you have in any given day. And as we all know, these happy feelings can be produced by almost anything: eating a good meal, watching a good movie, having a good conversation with a friend, making love, and so on. For the record, though, the best research shows that nobody can much change their predisposition to conceive of events positively; it can only change by about 20 per cent, and this is because the predisposition is largely heritable. Suggestions. Seligman does make suggestions for increasing positive emotion, though, if only a little. And they are several. One is keeping a journal and writing in at night before you go to bed three good things you did that day and why you feel like they were good things. They can be the simplest things too. Another thing you can do is practice the A, B, C, D, E method with your negative thinking. How you do this is by writing down an action (A) that bothered you that day, the negative beliefs (B) you had about the situation, the feelings you have/had as a consequence (C), a demonstration, (D) of alternative ways to conceive of the event, and then an evaluation (E) of your thoughts and feelings afterward. The list goes on in terms of how you can improve your positive emotion, and you can read the book for the others.
2. Engagement. Engagement is the degree to which the activities you engage in are flowing, when time seems to pass and you're completely unaware, because you're so enthralled in the work you're doing. You can increase this sense of engagement by using your signature strengths during the things that you do. (If you're at all curious, what strengths you have, you can go to authentichappiness.org, sign up, and take the VIA test.)
3. Relationships. A basic way of improving relationships, Seligman reccommends, is by positively and constructively communicating with someone. If someone tells you something they did positive, for example, you can compliment that person and then ask more specific questions to find out about what it is they did. Something as simple as this increases relationships.
4. Achievement. What Seligman has to say about achievement is this. What a person really needs to do to perform well is the gumption to get up and do it and push away adversity. Seligman, somewhat commically, writes that if you want to be good at something, do it about 60 hours every week for 10 years.
All that I wrote here is just scanning the surface. There are a lot of good ideas in here.
The model proposed in this book is:
• Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects)
I read a Kindle edition, and liked how references were done. There would be a phrase in colored text. Clicking on it took me to that endnote. Going back was just as easy. (Either the back arrow, or click on the colored text at the start of the endnote.)
A Kindle disappointment: The Table of Contents on an iPad had ten chapters, but on the Mac Kindle reader, instead of 10 chapters it just list Part 1 & Part 2.
In summary: Authentic Happiness is more engaging reading. This book gives some information on what has happened in the intervening nine years.