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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Paperback – Abridged, March 1, 1998
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Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and clinical researcher, has been studying optimists and pessimists for 25 years. Pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time, and undermine everything. They feel helpless and may sink into depression, which is epidemic today, especially among youths. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge--it doesn't knock them down. "Pessimism is escapable," asserts Seligman, by learning a new set of cognitive skills that will enable you to take charge, resist depression, and make yourself feel better and accomplish more.
About two-thirds of this book is a psychological discussion of pessimism, optimism, learned helplessness (giving up because you feel unable to change things), explanatory style (how you habitually explain to yourself why events happen), and depression, and how these affect success, health, and quality of life. Seligman supports his points with animal research and human cases. He includes tests for you and your child--whose achievement may be related more to his or her level of optimism/pessimism than ability. The final chapters teach the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism, with worksheet pages to guide you and your child. --Joan Price
From Library Journal
The author, a leading expert on the theory and treatment of depression, has written a lively, very accessible book on the power of a positive outlook and how to develop it. Basing his theories on his original research on "learned helplessness," Seligman goes on to develop a systematic model for the cognitive treatment of depression. This book summarizes his more recent work on a person's characteristic predisposition toward optimism or pessimism. Convincingly demonstrating that an optimistic mood contributes to one's success and happiness, Seligman goes on to demonstrate how a more optimistic outlook can be developed. Presented for lay readers, this book can be highly recommended to professionals as well for its lucid and informative introduction to cognitive therapy and its approach to issues of mood and depression.
- Paul Hymowitz, New York Medical Coll.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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This book will help you discover your own pessimistic tendencies, if you have them, or those of people you love and care about. It will introduce you to the techniques that have helped others undo lifelong habits of pessimism. You will look at your setbacks with new perceptiveness. I enjoyed learning from Martin Seligman and hope you do as well. © 2012 Jackie Paulson
The most valuable part of the book for me has been the tools for quantifying one's own worldview and the extremeness of it. I had thought I was a fairly equanimous person, but according to his tests I am in fact quite pessimistic. Using the language and approach of the book I have realized that his test feels quite accurate, and I am starting to put his steps for change into action. Its slow going and I cannot accurately review the results of said steps yet but I am very hopeful as everything in the book has an internal logic and consistency that is refreshing in the world of psych.
I actually have been recommending this book most to "healthy" people, as it gives a great view into the world of the pessimist and the depressed person. Its very difficult to make generally optimistic people understand what it is like to be trapped in a pessimist worldview, and the first chapters of the book do an excellent job giving people reference points for this understanding.
Don't be put-off by the tests that comprise chapters three and four. These are useful, scientifically proven tests that have little in common with the tests that litter the average self-help book.
If there are any flaws in this book it may be the overuse of dialogs demonstrating how to learn to be an optimist. These are useful for those not familiar with cognitive therapy but I found them a bit repetitive.
This book is for you and anyone else who has the habit of beating themselves up mercilessly. It will change your life if you make the conscience effort to implement the easy changes this book purposes.