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Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being Paperback – February 7, 2012
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"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
About the Author
Martin E. P. Seligman is the Robert A. Fox Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. His visionary work in Positive Psychology has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
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That comment is quite an oversell and is disingenuous at best.
I've genuinely been trying to give this book a fair chance, but so far fail to be sufficiently impressed. The content of the book argues for why "well being" is a better descriptor and goal than happiness in various settings and context, yet the author never seems to get around to the nuts and bolts of how that is accomplished. Rather, the book serves as more of a biographical memoir highlighting the events that brought forth the idea of "flourishing" and "well being," particularly in academic circles. With that, it also acts as a bit of a marketing-type grab for folks to toggle over to the UPenn website with the intent of having more participants fill out questionnaires that add to the database for research, all without any real benefit/feedback for the persons going through the effort of completing the material.
Seligman's general concept is well received, and he goes to great lengths to sell the idea, but it's an idea that is not well expounded by his writing here. I'd recommend folks wait until something more substantive is released with coherent details, and which holds merit beyond being a book length version of something that could have been covered via a quick magazine article.
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.