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Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Paperback – January 3, 2006
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“Vaulted me out of my funk. . . . So, fellow moderate pessimists, go buy this book." — The New York Times Book Review”One of the most important books of the century--an absolute must-read for all persons interested in genuinely understanding and helping our fellow human beings.” —Dr. Robert H. Schuller, author of Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do "Dr. Seligman makes an optimistic case for optimism: you can learn it, you can measure it, you can teach it, and you will be healthier and happier for it.” —Dr. Aaron T. Beck, author of Love is Never Enough“A system for reforming the most entrenched pessimist.” —Philadelphia Daily News
About the Author
Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a past president of the American Psychological Association, is a leading motivational expert and an authority on learned helplessness. His many books include Authentic Happinessand The Optimistic Child. Dr. Seligman's research has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
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That being said, I gave this book such a low rating because I feel that the title is completely misleading. I didn't want to read all sorts of information about WHY changing my mind and life is important and possible. I wanted to learn HOW, and that's what the title promises.
To be sure, there are some suggestions of how to learn optimism, but such little space in the book is dedicated to this topic that I felt misled and "ripped off" by the title.
It's like reading a book called "Instructions for Knitting a Sweater for your Baby" and discovering that only the last chapter is in fact instructive; the first 100 pages are about the history of knitting, the need for babies to wear sweaters, what happens to those poor babies who don't wear sweaters, and why the author considers himself to be the best darn knitter in the entire county. Enough already!
The author's pick and choose method of choosing when to be 'optimistic' or 'pessimistic' regarding events, strikes me as ludicrous, as well as unnecessarily complicating the issue. Why not just focus on a commitment to a rational assessment of the events of one's life? Isn't that in itself difficult enough, without creating artificial divisions, and delusions, in which to view events? If an accurate assessment makes a person feel bad, then that should be an indication that that event is a problem and a solution needs to be pursued. Placing problems into an 'optimistic' frame of reference may make a person feel better but it does nothing to address the underlying problem.
If a person chooses to delude themselves as the author advocates, how is that creating an environment where future change is even possible? Are we to just live in a fantasy world while the troublesome events around us remain unchanged? Shouldn't the core of a persons cognition always strive to adhere to self-honesty as well as an accurate assessment of reality? I don't see how a sane person could think otherwise.
Obviously, I really didn't get much, that was useful, from this book. The two books I've found helpful and would recommend are;
* 'The Feeling Good Handbook' by David Burns
* 'Power Therapy: Maximizing Health Through Self-Efficacy' by Michael Aleksiuk
As stated earlier, the author is a psychologist and clinical researcher who has spent the majority of his life studying learned helplessness and optimism. After many clinical trials, he has been hired in many "real world" situations (including Met Life Insurance and sports teams) to improve results and test optimism and success. The results are astounding. The book describes the results using these real-life projects. As evidenced by these studies, optimism helps persons succeed in business, sports, politics, health, school, and literally all walks of life.
The book demonstrated over and over again how I was handicapping myself by being negative and a pessimist. I am a very logical person and it took a book like this, written factually instead of emotionally, to open my eyes to pessimism. Since reading this book, I have dedicated myself to being an optimist, and I must say I have already noticed major differences in my life. I am succeeding at things I never would have even attempted before, and I have become very resilient in non-favorable situations. I have surprised myself over and over again.
Not too many "life changing" books come along, but this book was definitely one for me. If you are a pessimist, this book can transform your life. If you are average or only slightly positive, this book can improve your life greatly. Do yourself a favor and read this book!