boutiques-francophones countdown Beauty Kindle Explore the Amazon.ca Vinyl LP Records Store Furniture sports Tools
Customer Review

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-important Author Repackaging Some Good Ideas, March 31 2004
This review is from: Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (Paperback)
I simply cannot understand most of the other reviewers here in their adoration of this book. Primarily, the book draws on insights already expressed by others without giving appropriate credit. One example is John F. Kennedy, who defined happiness as "full use of your powers along the lines of excellence" (compare this to Seligman's defintion: "successfully using your signature strengths to obtain...gratification.)" Another example is Norman Vincent Peale who defined optimism as a "habit of mind" (compare this to Seligman's point that we can achieve optimism by routinely engaging in the "disputing of pessimistic thoughts.") Can you say Positive Thinking? Conciously or unconciously, Seligman has repackaged these thoughts and labeled the package "Positive Psychology."
The warming over of these old concepts, in itself, would not be a bad thing because the borrowed concepts have much validity. What IS bad, however, is the way Seligman padded and diluted these nuggets with a lot of personal anecdotes, self congratulation, questionnaires, and psuedo science. And he constantly uses pure trivia as his source for second guessing other great thinkers on the weightiest of subjects. For example, he implies that the enitire book was hatched as the result of an "epiphany" he experienced when his 5 year old daughter called him a grouch. Similarly, all of his self-assured recommendations on child rearing, contained in a long chapter that seems tacked on to the book, are based on the experience of raising his own kids. Seligman apparently is on his second family (his 6 kids include toddlers and near-middle-agers.) Why should I take his advice on child rearing when he admits that, until he bribed her with the offer of a Barbie Doll, he couldn't stop his youngest from hiding, day after day, where her family could not find her? He actually says we should only bribe kids this way "once or twice in a lifetime."
Finally, Seligman unlocks the mystery of God for us by engaging in his typical practice of finding answers not in the words of Aristotle, Plato, or Freud but by seeking answers in less less likely places. He goes instead to the world of sci-fi, telling us that his theory on the identity of God was inspired by an Isaac Asimov short story. He unravels this mystery for us by quoting a poolside conversation during which, as he describes it, he dazzled a brilliant writer, Bob Wright, with his profound insight on the Diety. What's the insight? "God comes at the end" but wasn't here in the beginning!
If you want to get anything useful out of this book, you have to work hard to separate the meaningful stuff from the self-important fluff. I suggest you instead seek out the thoughts of people like Kennedy and Peale, who were not only better thinkers, but a heck of a lot less arrogant.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (what's this)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more )
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the guidelines and FAQs here.

As a representative of this product, you may post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
After clicking the Post button, you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you may post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you may still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you may post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify that you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise, you may post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]