Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review: Learned Optimism

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your LifeLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E.P. Seligman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always appreciate it when an author can take a difficult, highly scientific or technical topic and make it readable and easy for a lay person to understand.  Professor Seligman has accomplished just that with Learned Optimism.  Even those of us not trained in psychology can follow along with the narrative, enjoying the key insights as they have come to Seligman over his distinguished career. 

Even more important than easy and pleasant reading are the practical applications for the research Seligman weaves into every chapter of this how-to book on improving our sense of optimism.  After making a compelling case that optimism is better for our health, careers, relationships, and ability to learn, he goes on to provide a method for making optimism a more natural part of our lives.  There is a process for challenging pessimistic thoughts and replacing them with optimistic ones.  Anyone can learn it and practice it until this way of thinking embeds itself in our minds and bodies. 

I like it that Professor Seligman does not blame or judge people harshly for being pessimistic, even skeptical or cynical... but he does make it clear that this way of life is a choice, same as living happily in hope is a choice.  By making the option ours, Seligman gives us a great deal of power to control the quality of our lives... at home and at work.  Along the way, we can use the tools he provides to assist our children, work colleagues, even fellow players on our sports teams to achieve more and experience more happiness.  What more can anyone want from a book?

Still not convinced? Check out a two-page summary, written by me. Just download it here for free! 

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