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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 the Audio CD 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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The book is also interspersed by out-of-place asides on odd topics like "I'm not saying that veterans are necessarily FAKING having PTSD, but here's a bunch of facts that sure seem suspicious, huh?" and "People say that I helped the CIA to design torture programs but that's actually not a very nuanced understanding of the substantial assistance I granted them" and "One time this one lady in Australia wrote an op-ed criticizing my work and it really irritated me."
This book is more "that one older relative at your Thanksgiving dinner who rambles on and on" than it is Malcolm Gladwell. Disappointing, because a good edit could have excavated an interesting book out of this fossil matrix.
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.