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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
Top customer reviews
“Flourish,” is both accessible theory and practical practice. PP is not “positive thinking.” Its not about changing your mind or thinking. It encompasses thinking, for sure, but it is extremely practical, empirically studied and supported by research. “Flourish,” provides a comprehensive overview of PP’s research on “Post-Traumatic Growth,” “Positive Education,” and “GRIT,” to name a few. And, “Flourish,” provides methods to develop well-being and happiness.
In particular Seligman provides a useful acronynm to help the reader develop a practical sense of PP. PERMA: P = Positive Emotion, E = Engagement, R = Positive Relationships / Relating, M = Meaning, and A = Accomplishment / Achievement.
Some time ago I wrote the following for my PP blog (garyshunk.com) to illustrante the “R” in PERMA:
[So…Erica arrives home from work and excitedly tells her husband, Jeff, “I got the promotion!” Jeff turns to Erica smiles and says, “WOW, that’s great! Tell me ALL about it.” He takes Erica by the hand and leads her to a chair and sits her down. Jeff places himself directly across from her, leans forward, gazes into his wife’s smiling face, and says, “OK, tell me.”
In that moment Jeff enters Erica’s world of joy with genuine, intentional and devoted interest. At points in her story, he asks, “What were you feeling when your boss told you?” “Tell me verbatim what you and your boss said to one another.” “What was your drive home like?” After an hour of wrapped attention, Jeff says, “Let’s celebrate,” and asks Erica where she’d like to go for dinner that evening.
The above is an illustration of Positive Relating, This is a Positive Psychology intervention. Imagine yourself on the receiving end. Erica is happy because of the good thing that happened to her today. When she arrives home, Jeff “actively,” and “constructively,” responds to Erica’s good news and her happiness. He puts his needs and agenda to the side and is 100% present, and curious about the good thing that happened to his wife. The outcome of Jeff’s investment is a gift for Erica, their marriage, their children and extended family, as well as their community because it magnifies happiness.
This illustration may seem cliche. But, it really takes intention and effort to be present for someone’s joy. When the investment happens, it deepens what is already there, extends the joy and happiness, as well as solidifies the relationship.]
Obviously I am a big fan of Marty Seligman. Nevertheless, I believe “Flourish,” is a great introduction to PP. You will discover PP is not “self help,” but rather a solid field of psychology with its foundation in empirical study and scientific research. As I like to say: there is no where PP is not applicable.
The ancient wisdom recorded in the I Ching lists the 4 cardinal virtues ... As love, morality, justice and wisdom.
Wisdom is described (my words) as a combination of being able to discern the seeds or laws of change AND acting in such a way as to bring change into being in an enduring way.
In my view that is what Marty has achieved by writing this book.
Yes profit is essential to the life of business ... Just as breathing and eating is essential for living. However there is a lot more satisfaction and enjoyment possible than just breathing and eating.
The PERMA direction or way of living...as explained and illustrated in this book will have a profound and long lasting beneficial influence on all who explore and adapt this approach to their own circumstances.
As an Appreciative Inquiry practitioner I know from personal experience and observations that strengths based approaches work.
This book, in my opinion, offers essential and useful tools and guidelines that will indeed result ( if adopted and practiced) in individuals , Organisations and whole Societies flourishing.
Johnloty22@ gmail .com
Although I enjoyed reading about his current and past research with the US Army (resilience to PTSD) and with children in schools (priming children for a life of well-being, I felt a little off track around the middle of the book and would have been just as happy to read the first and last chapters.
This wasn't helped by the formatting. This is the worst translation into e-format that I have experienced. Reading this on a Kindle was not easy - I would buy the book next time. Some parts were badly spaced and the charts and graphs were all over the place. I have a basic Kindle, and when the text said `click here to see the diagram' - I did and I couldn't!
In summary, I got a lot from the content of this book but there is plenty of discourse. I liked the `ahas' but didn't get much practical action to use except to go to his website. This is worth doing by the way, as you can complete the tests he refers to there without charge. It felt a bit rambling as if he had decided to put all his thoughts and experiences for the past few years into a book, but hadn't really structured it for the reader.