author: Martin E.P. Seligman
average rating: 3.89
book published: 1991
read at: 2009/05/19
date added: 2009/05/22
shelves: non-fiction, psychology, self-help, wishlist
A thoughtful and yes, upbeat book. Worth it for the self-help style quiz at the beginning, which for me gave me a bit of a boost, because I could see how my biking & weight loss experiences, along with my work with CBT, have actually changed how I think about things. Although I gotta say my natural inclinations are still pretty damn pessimistic. It’s gonna have to go back to the library shortly, although I still haven’t finished all the exercises.
There’s a thought log technique that’s similar to the main one in Feeling Good, and interestingly enough, I’m finding that just approaching it with a slightly different method has helped me through a few rough moments (nothing huge, really) just this week. There’s a special chapter on optimism at work, with a slightly different take on the exercise from the earlier chapter, which I’m looking forward to taking on soon.
The most thought-provoking aspect of the book, for someone with my history, is the very deliberate examination about flexible optimism. He recognizes that there are times where pessimism is actually a realistic and even useful stance, and outlines a few of the differences in the situations. But then he goes on to really promote the idea of mindful pessimism and optimism, rather than just blindly following your unconscious tendencies.
Two drawbacks for me personally: a big focus on kids and schooling, which I get is part of his mission to improve society in general, but which don’t mean much for me; and the dated edition. I got the ’98 edition, which didn’t have a lot of changes from the ’91 edition. The historical bits are entertaining, with the USSR & Dukakis and all. On the other hand, there were a few sections where I think the scientific understanding/consensus has changed, especially around how the brain actually works. (Nothing jumps out at the moment.) If I were to get my own copy, I’d be looking for the most up to date version, which looks to be a 2006 edition.