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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment Paperback – Jan 5 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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  • Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743222989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743222983
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest user-friendly road map for human emotion, the author of the bestselling Learned Optimism proposes ratcheting the field of psychology to a new level. "Relieving the states that make life miserable... has made building the states that make life worth living less of a priority. The time has finally arrived for a science that seeks to understand positive emotion, build strength and virtue, and provide guideposts for finding what Aristotle called the `good life,' " writes Seligman. Thankfully, his lengthy homage to happiness may actually live up to the ambitious promise of its subtitle. Seligman doesn't just preach the merits of happiness e.g., happy people are healthier, more productive and contentedly married than their unhappy counterparts but he also presents brief tests and even an interactive Web site (the launch date is set for mid-August) to help readers increase the happiness quotient in their own lives. Trying to fix weaknesses won't help, he says; rather, incorporating strengths such as humor, originality and generosity into everyday interactions with people is a better way to achieve happiness. Skeptics will wonder whether it's possible to learn happiness from a book. Their point may be valid, but Seligman certainly provides the attitude adjustment and practical tools (including self-tests and exercises) for charting the course.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Caroline Myss Author of Sacred Contracts Authentic Happiness is delightful and richly insightful. Martin Seligman has written a very practical book, guiding readers to make positive choices in life.

Steven Pinker Author of The Language Instinct A highly insightful scientific and personal reflection on the nature of happiness, from one of the most creative and influential psychologists of our time.

Elle A bold new plan for taking control of your life and finding lasting happiness.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written by the former president of the American Psychological Association, and author of over a dozen books including the popular Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, this title is one of the better selling happiness books out there.

While this is the kind of book I could write a really long review about, I think I'll just discuss what I consider to be the best bits for those looking for ways to become happier- which I think is why most people would buy this book. Soooo.....

1) the book provides the reader with a "happiness formula", which is H = S + C + V. This works out to happiness = your genetic Set point + intervening Circumstances + factors under you Voluntary control. So, since your can't do much about changing your genetics, when it comes to becoming happier, that leaves room for improvement in the areas of circumstances and voluntary activities.

2) the book suggests that if you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should: live in a wealthy democracy, get married, avoid negative events and negative emotion, acquire a rich social network, and get religion. Conversely, you needn't bother to do the following: make more money, stay healthy, get as much education as possible, or try to change your race or move to a sunnier climate. However even if you could alter all of these things, it would not do much for you as this stuff accounts for only a small part of your happiness. On to Voluntary efforts...
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Format: Hardcover
After wide-reaching research across time and cultures, Martin Seligman has identified six virtues: Wisdom and learning, courage, love and humanity, justice, temperance, spirituality and transcendence. In "Authentic Happiness" he describes how to strengthen your character in order to develop these life-affirming virtues. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, which revolves around a "talking cure" and seeks to identify traumatic events in a person's past, and even to assign blame, Seligman's Positive Psychology focuses on developing your "signature strengths", and on learning what you will find genuinely fulfilling in life.
Using personal anecdotes in addition to well-documented (and in some cases, surprising) studies, he demonstrates how we can avoid being trapped by the downward spiral of negativity and depression. This is a remarkable book that defies classification. It should not be limited to the "self-help" genre, as Seligman goes far beyond that to introduce a new way of thinking about individual potential. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book by a great academic researcher. There is a lot of information in here that is great food for thought. But, any time you read an academic researcher/theoretician's work, it is super important to put on your skeptic thinking cap because they are usually coming from a particular perspective and are really good at making you think that their view is it. Nonetheless, the author has some great points about a lot of aspects of life in here. NOW, if you are interested in a book that will be especially devoted to helping you find authentic wellness, and not just be an intellectual exploration, see "Effortless Wellbeing: The Missing Ingredients for Authentic Wellness" by Evan Finer. That book gives you critical ideas and practical how-to practices to activate your true self and create wellness automatically. It will help you experientially get there. Highly recommend both books. Authentic Happiness is very interesting academic reading; Effortless Wellbeing is down-to-earth practical how-to.
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Format: Hardcover
We are lucky that a heavy weight in experimental psychology has taken an interest in these areas. It took someone of Seligman's stature to marshal the funding and qualified manpower in order to study the areas of positive emotion and strengths of character. I'm not sure I agree that psychology has done enough to study pathology, but I do believe that it is high time that we begin to spend more time and resources in an effort to understand how people who lead highly satisfying lives do so.
His formula describing happiness makes sense. It is interesting that experimental psychology is coming to the same conclusion as so many philosophers have, that in an effort to lead the good life, striving after pleasures along leave us coming up short. Seligman does't deride pursuing pleasure, in fact, he gives us some assistance getting the most from sensory pleasures, but he points toward the matching of signature strengths to opportunities as the primary source of happiness that is under our control. This does not surprise me as it seems to be an example of consiliance among many thinkers from Dewey, to Rogers and Maslow to Csikszentmihalyi not to mention the many philosophers that have reached the conclusion by more absract means.
His website has many useful tests that are scored with lightning speed and that give you comparitive data about thousands of others who have taken the same test. The only question I have about all this data his is compiling and basing his research on is how does he rule out the desire to be socially approved. I found myself struggling with some questions in an effort to distinguish between what I strive to be like, or what I would like to be like and where I actually am at currently.
Therapists, folks in the self-help market and many others will find much that is useful in this book that looks like it will the the first and most general of a field that one hopes is taking its first toddler steps.
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