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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Paperback – January 3, 2006
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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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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 Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
Maybe I'm not lazy, selfish, or depressed--I just have a system of negative thoughts that are making me feel disempowered and helpless. It's becoming clear that my thinking is VERY cyclically pessimistic; I even feel a clenching in my chest every time I return to one of my negative beliefs. But even today, the first day I've consulted with this book, I've used some of its technique to challenge my negative thinking, with positive results. I'd been putting off returning a friend's text because I thought he might be upset with me, but just examining that belief made me realize how knee-jerk and baseless it is. Having reoriented myself, I texted him back.
It's one small step but that felt VERY powerful. I already did feel compelled to reattribute much of my depression as pessimism, and if I do that there will be ways to positively change every thought I have. All we are is the set of assumptions we make about the world, and I'm amazed at how little I've been examining my own assumptions.
I am so happy I bought this book. Take a look at the preview and see if it resonates with you; it did with me because it's so research-based, not airy or cheerful at all. Just useful and powerful. If you struggle with any sort of depression or ineffectiveness, I recommend you give those first few pages a read. It really might give us all a way to get better.
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.
When I realized recently that I was skidding that direction again, I bought another copy, expecting that "understandable & changeable" input to help me turn the tide once again... it did. A good reference book... once again back on my bookshelf.