Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

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Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enchances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.. With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children, Learned Optimism is both profound and practical–and valuable for every phase of life.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078393
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078394
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

Customer Reviews

Staying Positive

 on September 19, 2012
By Jackie Paulson
Learned Optimism will change the way you think about being negative. Martin Seligman was, “accustomed to focusing on what was wrong with people and then on how t fix it.” He is known as the father of the new science of Positive Psychology, and draws on more than 20 years of experience as a clinical research Psychologist, to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of your life. He claims that when we practice techniques we can change. His overall theory talks about how to look at what was going right and how to make it even better! What a great way to think of things. I believe corporate America needs to get into this seat and drive!

Solid book with a hint of self-aggrandizement

One person found this helpful.
 on June 30, 2014
By Nicholas Harring
An excellent book for pessimists who don’t want to stay pessimistic, one must be prepared to slog through a couple chapters of the author patting himself on the back for moving the field of psychology forward with the ideas presented in the book. Considering that this was a pretty significant achievement in the 70s we can forgive the author spending so much time on his achievements and casting himself in the role of hero against the established world of behaviorists and worse.

Important Book

One person found this helpful.
 on July 4, 2008
By Scott Lloyd
This book tells how to be more optimistic and gives solid scientific reasons why depression is associated with feelings of helplessness. In my search to achieve a more positive and productive life I have read many self-help books. Most are theories devoid of any compelling scientific rationale. Once you are exposed to the ideas in Learned Optimism you find them so rational that they become second nature. I knew of cognitive therapy but never the research that preceded it. I find that knowing the research behind the theory makes the mechanics of cognitive therapy totally intuitive.

Must read for pessimists as well as optimists

2 people found this helpful.
 on August 26, 2015
By Carlos A. Zubillaga
You may be a pessimist and not know it. But you absolutely need to know where you stand on the pessimism and optimism scale. This book will not only tell you how pessimistic you are but it will help you understand the huge cost of pessimism in your life and how to learn to control and overcome pessimistic tendencies. A fun read, rich with experiments and studies to illustrate and prove his points. Martin Seligman has written a masterpiece.

Excellent and a very practical guide to changing your outlook.

One person found this helpful.
 on March 31, 2016
By L. H.
I am a clinical psychologist and wanted this for my own education as well as to loan out to clients. It is fantastic! Dr. Seligman is a very clear writer who makes the point easy to understand. I haven’t finished it yet, but have a list of clients I have already recommended it to as it is so useful for my depressed clients. A very good book if you tend to be a pessimist or depressed, but also if you care about someone who tends to be depressed.


3 people found this helpful.
 on November 13, 2014
By Christopher Stuke
The concepts, observations, ideas and exercises contained in this book are invaluable. Want to take steps to change your life and your self from the inside out?

Four Stars

 on June 4, 2017
By Joyzer
This book is very informative. I need to work on implementing some of the strategies in my life.

… process very helpful for identifying and working on a better way to think about adversity we encounter

One person found this helpful.
 on August 30, 2014
By S. Woodworth
Found his ABCDE process very helpful for identifying and working on a better way to think about adversity we encounter. http://wishfulthinkingworks.com/what-2/the-quotabcdequot-method-for-changing-your-mind-for-the-better/. I really liked the book and the tools it provides to help shift me from moderate pessimism to optimism to enjoy my personal and professional life more and be more successful. If you want to change how you think this is a great book. High level athletes talk to themselves all the time and now I wonder if some are based on Martin’s teachings

Very important book, especially for pessimist

 on June 13, 2013
By jaTN
How do you explain life events? That’s the key question in this book and how you answer it is critical.

Great book

One person found this helpful.
 on December 19, 2012
There are a lot of interesting facts and perspectives within this book. I really like it, but I am also personally focused on unlearning negative thinking which seemed the default mode for my family. The last few chapters on children and variance by age was really interesting. I’d suggest this book for individuals like myself as well as parents of young children

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