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Showing 1-10 of 327 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 481 reviews
on August 12, 2016
It's a little early to say, but I have just started applying the thought framework this book suggests and I'm seeing positive change on the first day. I've felt very stuck in various aspects of my life for about five years now, and I've tried life coaching, counseling, reading other self help books etc with little change. This book is helping me realize that across all the spheres of my life I feel stuck in, I've developed really negative beliefs. I have a hard time accomplishing work goals, and believe myself lazy. I often forget to call my loved ones, and believe myself selfish. What I'm seeing now is that these negative thoughts have consequences--they're causing an immobility, depression spiral. I believe myself to be lazy, and I have a harder time working because of it. I think of myself as selfish, assume my friends will be angry with me when I do call them, and so avoid making the calls.

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.
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on September 19, 2012
Learned Optimism will change the way you think about being negative. Martin Seligman was, "accustomed to focusing on what was wrong with people and then on how t fix it." He is known as the father of the new science of Positive Psychology, and draws on more than 20 years of experience as a clinical research Psychologist, to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of your life. He claims that when we practice techniques we can change. His overall theory talks about how to look at what was going right and how to make it even better! What a great way to think of things. I believe corporate America needs to get into this seat and drive!
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
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on June 30, 2014
An excellent book for pessimists who don't want to stay pessimistic, one must be prepared to slog through a couple chapters of the author patting himself on the back for moving the field of psychology forward with the ideas presented in the book. Considering that this was a pretty significant achievement in the 70s we can forgive the author spending so much time on his achievements and casting himself in the role of hero against the established world of behaviorists and worse.

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.
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on November 16, 2014
I bought this book recently... for the 2nd time, having loaned out the copy I bought 15+ years ago. Bought the first copy [referenced in an article on depression in the local paper] back then, after a huge career change that exposed how performance-oriented my well-being was. Having gotten very depressed, and feeling hopeless, the book made a good case [to me] for that frame of mind being both understandable and change-able. It was the turning point in my recovery... feeling "grounded".

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.
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VINE VOICEon July 4, 2008
This book tells how to be more optimistic and gives solid scientific reasons why depression is associated with feelings of helplessness. In my search to achieve a more positive and productive life I have read many self-help books. Most are theories devoid of any compelling scientific rationale. Once you are exposed to the ideas in Learned Optimism you find them so rational that they become second nature. I knew of cognitive therapy but never the research that preceded it. I find that knowing the research behind the theory makes the mechanics of cognitive therapy totally intuitive.

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.
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on August 26, 2015
You may be a pessimist and not know it. But you absolutely need to know where you stand on the pessimism and optimism scale. This book will not only tell you how pessimistic you are but it will help you understand the huge cost of pessimism in your life and how to learn to control and overcome pessimistic tendencies. A fun read, rich with experiments and studies to illustrate and prove his points. Martin Seligman has written a masterpiece.
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on January 20, 2014
I read Dr. Seligman's more recent book, Flourish, first and I believe that Learned Optimism is better. He takes a long time to get to the "how" to learn optimism; but he does. I believe the book has valuable information. It is worth the time to read and it does supply practicable and easily usable techniques to at least try in improving your attitude towards being an optimistic person. It takes work, as all things do, to improve and change.
I would of given it 5 stars but in the last chapters he goes off on theorizing why we have become a society of people who say we are more depressed. Most of his theories are based on Liberal Political ideas. I don't wrestle with depressing thoughts due to events such as Watergate or the Assassination of JFK; nor do I believe that we have become more of an individual society over the years and less of collective society - which has added to depression.
Overall a good book when tied to his research - but the rest of the ideas, in my opinion, are undocumented theories.
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on March 31, 2016
I am a clinical psychologist and wanted this for my own education as well as to loan out to clients. It is fantastic! Dr. Seligman is a very clear writer who makes the point easy to understand. I haven't finished it yet, but have a list of clients I have already recommended it to as it is so useful for my depressed clients. A very good book if you tend to be a pessimist or depressed, but also if you care about someone who tends to be depressed.
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on November 13, 2014
The concepts, observations, ideas and exercises contained in this book are invaluable. Want to take steps to change your life and your self from the inside out?

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.
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on April 9, 2016
This is a classic book about how to use positive thinking to change your life for the better. Author Martin Seligman is credited for creating "positive psychology," although I am sure the truth is actually more complicated than that. But Seligman certainly is the person who has put out the commercial books on the subject that the public has heard of. The problem with this book for me is that the title and description of the book: "Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Change Your Life," is not very accurate.

I found that most of the book discusses Seligman's career and prior research in psychology, then goes in to great detail about his research and what he has learned from it. But what is missing is the practical component, taking Seligman's research results and transforming them into instructions and advice that readers can actually use to improve their lives. The book is lacking in that area.
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