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

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

3.9 29
by Martin Seligman, Tom Stechschulte
     
 

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In Authentic Happiness, the bestsellingauthor of Learned Optimism introduces the revolutionary, scientifically based idea of "Positive Psychology." Positive Psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, asserting that happines is not the result of good genes or luck. Happiness can be cultivated by identifying and using many of the strengths and

Overview

In Authentic Happiness, the bestsellingauthor of Learned Optimism introduces the revolutionary, scientifically based idea of "Positive Psychology." Positive Psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, asserting that happines is not the result of good genes or luck. Happiness can be cultivated by identifying and using many of the strengths and traits that listeners already possess -- including kindness, originality, humor, optimism, and generosity. By frequently calling upon their "signature strengths," listeners will develop natural buffers against misfortune and the eXperience of negative emotion -- elevating their lives to a fresh, more positive plane.Drawing on grounbreaking psychological research, Seligman shows how the Positive Psychology is shifting the profession's paradigm away from its narrow-minded focus on pathology, victimology, and mental illness to positive emotion, virtue and strength, and positive institutions. Our signature strengths can be nurtured throughout our lives, yelding benefits to health, relationships and careers. Seligman provides the "Signature Strength Survey" that can be used to measure how much positive emotion listeners experience, in order to help determine what their highest strengths are. Authentic Happiness shows us how to identify the very best in ourselves, so we can achieve new and sustainable levels of authentic contentment, gratification, and meaning.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Happiness isn't just a gift; it's a skill that can be learned and cultivated. According to psychology professor Dr. Martin Seligman, everyone has the power to infuse real joy into his or her life. To teach ourselves happiness, he recommends that we identify and develop our personal "signature strengths." By incorporating these attributes into the crucial arenas of our lives, we can enhance our lives and experience real fulfillment. This is an orthodox but sensible life-changing lesson.
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. Agent, Richard Pine. (Sept. 4) Forecast: A first serial in Newsweek, an appearance on Good Morning America and an author tour not to mention Seligman's name recognition as a longtime proponent of positive psychology should help the publisher sell out its first printing of 125,000 copies. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402581564
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
07/13/2004

Read an Excerpt

In Authentic Happiness, the bestselling author of Learned Optimism introduces the revolutionary, scientifically based idea of "Positive Psychology." Positive Psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, asserting that happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Happiness can be cultivated by identyfying and using many of the strengths and traits that listeners already possess -- including kindness, originality, humor, optimism, and generosity. By frequently calling upon their "signature strengths," listeners will develop natural buffers against misfortune and the experience of negative emotion -- elevating their lives to a fresh, more positive place.

Drawning on groundbreaking psychological research, Seligman shows how Positive Psychology is shifting the profession's paradigm away from its narrow-minded focus on pathology, victimology, and mental illness to positive emotion, virtue and strength, and positive institutions. Our signature strengthts can be nurtured throughout our lives, yielding benefits to our health, relationships, and careers.

Seligman provides the "Signature Strengths Survey" that can be used to measure how much positive emotion listeners experience, in order to help determine what their highest strengths are. Authentic Happiness shows how to identify the very best in ourselves, so we can achieve new and sustainable levels of authentic contentment, gratification, and meaning.

What People are saying about this

Oliver
To read this book is to walk with your head floating in clouds of possibility while your feet tread firmly on the ground of scientific research. Dr. Seligman gives us the tools to tap into our greatest strengths, so that we can live more joyously while making a greater contribution to loved ones, work and community.
— Joan Oliver Goldsmith, author of How Can We Keep from Singing: Music and the Passionate Life
Mary Pipher
Seligman takes the best, most recent science in psychology and applies it to our oldest, most basic human questions-how can we be happy? And how can we be good? His book is ground-breaking, heart-lifting and, most importantly, deeply useful. With pun intended, I'm optimistic about its success.
— Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia
Andrew Weil
Martin Seligman is the leading spokesman for the new movement of positive psychology, which focuses on mental health rather than mental illness. In this most helpful book he identifies characteristics and strategies of people with positive outlooks and explains how you can cultivate and experience authentic happiness and other desirable emotional states more of the time. Professor Seligman makes me optimistic and authentically happy about the future of psychology.
Aaron T. Beck
Seligman has done it again! Authentic Happiness raises our understanding of human nature to a new level. His brilliant explanation of the role of virtue, hopefulness and strength in producing happiness is inspiring as well as informative.
— Aaron T. Beck, M.D., author of Love is Never Enough
George Vaillant
Authentic Happiness is written with grace, power, eminent intelligence, incisive scholarship and-equally important-kindness. Seligman has provided readers from every walk of life with one of the very few authentic self-improvement books in existence.
— George Vaillant, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and author of Aging Well
Kathleen Hall
Some books introduce new ideas; others entertain. Some challenge entrenched attitudes; others offer guiding principles. Authentic Happiness does all of this and more. A life changing book.
— Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean, The Annenberg School for Communication
Diane Ackerman
The Constitution may guarantee the right to pursue happiness, but it doesn't offer clear paths to follow through the wilderness. Seligman does. By turns smart, funny, irreverent, and insightful, he is the perfect guide, someone who can make such a difference in life, and lives. A world hungry for happiness will love his new book.
— Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses
Kay Redfield
Authentic Happiness is an excellent book about emotions that are vital, positive, and lend great strength to our lives. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive emotions, has written a book that will make a real difference to many people.
— Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
Cheryl Richardson
Authentic Happiness is one of the most important books of our time. It offers a powerful message of hope for millions who long for a deeply satisfying life. Highly accessible and filled with practical advice, if you read it and use it, it will change your life.
— Cheryl Richardson, author of Stand Up for Your Life
Jonathan Kellerman
Martin Seligman is one of the most original thinkers the social sciences have produced in our century. Authentic Happiness is a fascinating, compelling look at a body of ground-breaking research. An important book.
— Jonathan Kellerman, author of Flesh and Blood
Don Clifton
Authentic Happiness is a must read for two groups of people: anyone interested in a deeper, sophisticated, more integrated treatment of the Positive Psychology movement; and those people who struggle for greater contentment in their daily lives. This book can make the world a better place for all human beings. I intend to buy it for all of my friends who have visions of a better world.
— Don Clifton, author of Now, Discover Your Strengths
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
A revolutionary perspective on psychology, Seligman's Authentic Happiness is a beacon for human behavior in the new century. Laypersons and professionals alike will find this book enormously enriching. It summarizes a huge literature, it provides concrete self-assessment tools, and it speaks with a joyful voice about what it means to be fully alive.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Steven Pinker
A highly insightful scientific and personal reflection on the nature of happiness, from one of the most creative and influential psychologists of our time.
— Steven Pinker, Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology, MIT, and author of The Language Instinct
Daniel Goleman
At last, psychology gets serious about glee, fun and happiness. Martin Seligman has given us a gift-a practical map for the perennial quest for a flourishing life.
— Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
Stephen R. Covey
An amazing book! Absolutely full of practical wisdom and its authentic sources. What depth of understanding! Seligman affirms our power of choice with a perspective on old and new psychology I found compelling and fascinating. This book will help restore the Character Ethic.
— Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Robert Wright
Martin Seligman, one of America's most eminent psychologists, is on a mission: to take the rich and surprising findings of a young field called "positive psychology" and use them to improve the mental, moral, and spiritual well-being of his readers. Being positive psychology's founder, as well as a vivid, inspiring writer, he is uniquely qualified for this job. Only one person could have written Authentic Happiness, but millions could benefit from it.
— Robert Wright, author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are-The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
Howard Gardner
An impressive achievement. This book will change how people view psychology and how all of us view ourselves.
— Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Multiple Intelligences

Meet the Author

Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., the Robert A. Fox Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, works on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, ethnopolitical conflict, and optimism. Dr. Seligman's work has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He is the director of the Positive Psychology Network and scientific director of Foresight, Inc., a testing company that predicts success in various walks of life.
He was for fourteen years the Director of the Clinical Training Program of the University of Pennsylvania and was named a "Distinguished Practitioner" by the National Academies of Practice. In 1995, he received the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's award for "Distinguished Contributions to Science and Practice."

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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.

First off, this book was a little harder read for me than most happiness books- I have the paperback book which has small print, perhaps that was a factor. I'm also partial to shorter, just-give-me-the-facts happiness books, such as "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World"- so that might also explain why I plodded my way through pages at times. But having said that, there's IS lot of gems in here for happiness searchers like myself.

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...

3) This is where most of the book spends a substantial part of its efforts showing you how to be happier, and there's a lot of "meat" to sink your teeth into, with sections on how to obtain more satisfaction with your past, what consitutes happiness about the future, and happiness in the present. Also, the book spend much time talking about how happiness can be cultivated by identifying and nurturing our traits, such as humor, optimism, generosity or kindness.

Readers who have read other happiness books, such as those by Jim Johnson or Sonja Lyubomirsky, will already be well familiar with the idea that the best way to increase your happiness is through intentional or voluntary activities. It makes a lot of sense, as you can't change your genetics, and circumstances are either out of your control, or make very little contributions to your happiness. Like this book, I agree that using intentional activities is the route to go when it comes to raising lasting happiness levels- and this book will help you out with that a lot. Happy trails!
Guest More than 1 year ago
We highly recommend this work by Martin E. P. Seligman, the founder of 'positive psychology' and the author of Learned Optimism. This book combines the erudition of psychological research with the accessibility of a self-help text. The author explains why happiness matters. He recapitulates and takes issue with the flawed deterministic assumptions that guided much of twentieth century psychology. He is careful to emphasize the importance of your individual control over your feelings and thoughts. The idea that people actually are in control of their fate marks a departure from Freudianism and behaviorism. Seligman argues, instead, for an understanding of character and virtue rooted in early Greek philosophy. However, his book is not merely theoretical or descriptive. He offers guidance on how you can change your way of thinking to change how you feel - and, thereby, get on the road to achieving long-term happiness for yourself and for others, especially your children.
magic-lantern-words More than 1 year ago
Sadly, it took me a long time for the concepts in this research/book to take root in my mind and for me to actually put the concepts into practice... and then stay with it. When I began forcing myself to view life more positively, to change the topic in my mind if it was negative, life became more fun. I've actually been smiling while home alone. Trust me, this is a big deal. After living in a deep depression (for years and years) due to my disability, I find myself actually smiling and laughing again. Kinda freaks me out that all I have to do to enjoy life, like I once did, is to change what I'm thinking about to something I enjoy. The first time I learned about this book was on NPR a year or five ago. I parked the car and listened to the whole talk. The book is better for reinforcing the fact that ... it's just not that hard to take control of what you think about... we do it all the time. Now it's just focusing on thinking about something I like about being alive, instead of depressing and sad things like war, poverty, crime and my disability. There is a time for the sad things but not constantly. Please do yourself a favor and read this book. Not all that much money and it will make you really think about life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a psychologist, I completely understand Martin Seligman's desire to free psychology from its obsession with negativity. Freud, he writes, made many people "unduly embittered about their past and unduly passive about their future." At the same time, clinical psychology focussed on diagnosing and treating mental and emotional disorders. In his new book, Authentic Happiness, Seligman goes a long way towards breaking psychology free from its love affair with pathology and replacing it with a far more positive approach. I don't know of anyone with better credentials to guide readers through what psychology has discovered about happiness. Seligman's own research has contributed greatly to our understanding of the entire range of human experience from deep depression to "abundant gratification." His early, groundbreaking studies of learned helplessness provided great insight into inescapable trauma as a major source of helplessness and depression. He went on to study what he called "learned optimism" as a powerful antidote to depression. His earlier book, Learned Optimism, is invaluable. Now, Seligman sets out to provide readers with the insights and tools from the relatively new field of positive psychology. He does this with a rich mixture of anecdotes, personal revelations and solid research. In addition, he provides frequent self-assessments and exercises. I think that almost anyone who takes the time to read what Seligman has to say, who takes and thinks about the self assessments, and who does the exercises, will begin thinking and acting in ways that foster lasting happiness. It's important to realize that Seligman is not a self-help guru by any stretch of the imagination. He is a leading research psychologist who always builds on reliable experimental findings. (Although the book is vividly written for the most part, at times Seligman's patient explanation of research findings slows things down.) Still, he is devoted to the idea of making those often dry experiments as meaningful and useful as possible. He doesn't promise limitless bliss, but what he does offer may actually be reachable by ordinary, unenlightened people like us. Early in the book Seligman makes the point that pleasure in itself is not the road to happiness. As we all know, pleasure is fleeting, and pursuing it can easily turn into addiction or futility. Instead Seligman identifies and values a set nearly universal virtues which he believes lead to deep and lasting gratification. These include wisdom and knowledge, courage, love and humanity, justice, temperance, spirituality and transcendance. "The good life," he writes, "is using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification." What I liked most about this book is that it made me feel good about myself, other people, and the "simple" virtues that make up much of the fabric of life, but which are often ignored and devalued. Kindness, tolerance, competence, interpersonal skills, a work ethic, and faith emerge as vital ingredients of a good, gratifying, happy life. Authentic Happiness is not a miracle cure for all unhappiness. It is, however, a wise, well-informed, and extremely valuable guide to a more grounded, heartfelt and gratifying life. Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (John Wiley & Sons, September, 2002).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eury More than 1 year ago
The concepts in this book are good but the writing is too complex for my mind. The author writes as though the reader has a PHD in psychology. I have only gotten a third of the way through but since I told my husband I would read it I will try to finish it. Good luck and get a dictionary.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
A mental wellness self-help book: So many self-help books, questionnaires, and popular psychology books talk about what’s wrong with our lives and how to make the bad bits better. Martin E. P. Seligman asks us to look instead at what’s good, and learn to turn good into excellent, making this a book on mental wellness, rather than mental illness. It’s a refreshing change. Wouldn’t you rather feel more happy instead of less miserable? But this isn’t just a question of looking at half-filled cups when they might be half-empty. Simple questionnaires (with more complicated versions online) invite the reader to find their own strengths so we can play to them. And then, in a nice twist on the “So this is who you are” approach, we’re asked to identify which strengths feel natural to us, which feel enlivening. We might be good at leading but feel drained every time we have to lead, making leadership a strength, but not a signature strength. Those final, happy, signature powers become the key to enlivening everyday life. But first, are you happy? Not just smiling today, but waking up happy, contented, hopeful, optimistic. And what things will make us happy? The author has looked through many cultures to find those things common to most. Again, there’s a twist—he’s not looking for features valued in all; just in most, because there area always exceptions—that’s why they’re called exceptions. Religion becomes something of worth, though the author’s own “religious” beliefs, expounded in a final chapter, might not agree with his readers’. The answer’s not in the details but in the approach. Raise happy children. Turn your job into something you enjoy (without necessarily changing jobs). Find your strengths and enjoy who you are instead of trying to turn into someone else. And enjoy this book. I did. Disclosure: My sister-in-law lent me a copy of this book then I went out and bought my own.
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