Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Paperback – Mar 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
When Martin Seligman deliver his APA presidential address, I was in the back of the room. His ideas were radical -- too radical for some therapists, who began walking out. These days Seligman's ideas reach beyond the research community and we can all gain.
Here's the basic thesis. When rats receive shock after shock, and nothing they do prevents future shocks, they learn to be helpless. They just give up. Dogs exhibit the same behavior and so do people. However, not all people -- and, for that matter, not all rats -- succumb. With people, Seligman has learned, thinking style is the moderator, i.e,. the differentiator between those who give up and those who keep going.
At first I seem an unlikely person to read this book, let alone recommend it. I'm known as irreverent, cynical and "cantankerous," as one reader said. However, Seligman defines an optimistic style by the way we respond to adverse events. Optimists see them as specific rather than pervasive, transient rather than permanent, and caused by factors outside oneself. In that sense, I might qualify!
I recommend this book because it is important to understand that thinking style can outweigh other predictors of success. His stories with insurance sales representatives and athletes are persuasive. One insurance company found that an optimistic style can compensate for lower aptitude, as measured by their traditional test.
Seligman also acknowledges that an optimistic style will not always be appropriate. When facing high risk, it's better to err on the side of pessimism. Indeed, he says, some occupations tend to attract and reward those who are mildly pessimistic.
On the downside, I found I could not relate to the tests in the book.Read more ›
So why the change of mind?
Basically because I feel that the author has divided his attention between two quite separate targets - and in consequence doesn't really score an "inner" on either of them.
My initial reaction was based on two points:
Firstly I didn't spot this immediately as a book on cognitive therapy, and
Secondly, as a sometime hypno/psychotherapist myself I thoroughly enjoyed Seligman's description of how he overcame the champions of behaviourism and sold his own discoveries on 'learned helplessness' to the psychological/psychiatric/mental health establishments.
It must be said, however, that apart from three self-tests, this description takes up the first 208 pages of a book where the main text only runs to 296 pages (including the introduction).
For those interested in the experimental validation of the theory, this amount of detail is, I guess, entirely justified.
On the other hand, given that the book's subtitle is "How to Change Your Mind and Your Life", it seems rather unsatisfactory that the "How to" section only constitutes less than 30% of the text - and even then, Chapters 12, 13 and 14 (about 74 pages) are essentially three versions of the same information.Read more ›
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!
Most recent customer reviews
Tired of letting life beat you down? Here is how to change your life by changing how you think. One of the best books ever on the toipic!Published 1 month ago by S. Arnott
Dr Seligman's theory is very interesting and well founded, but its North-American focus on productivity and activity is disturbing. It's all yang, no yin, pardon my Chinese. Read morePublished 4 months ago by DoSu
This is an excellent book on depression and its causes. The author includes a great deal of readable information on his and other scientist's research to back up his hypothesis... Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2013 by P. Zolantra
I had intended to order his new book Fault.My mistake. When I got this book I thought okay I'll read this one first. However, even though it looked intact it was visibly yellowed. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2013 by binkster
I have read many many many self-improvement books and by far this was one of the best I have ever read. Need I say more? Just buy it! You will be happy you did literally.Published on Oct. 21 2008 by Sean A. Fahey
This is a fascinating book that leaves the reader feeling, well, optimistic. Optimism means “having a strong expectation that, in general, things will turn out all right in life,... Read morePublished on March 6 2008 by Aviva Shiff