This book will help you flourish.
With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman begins Flourish, his first book in 10 years - and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for 15 years, is different: it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition.
Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life, unveiling an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life - for individuals, for communities, and for nations.
In a fascinating evolution of thought and practice, Flourish refines what Positive Psychology is all about. While certainly a part of well-being, happiness alone doesn’t give life meaning. Seligman now asks, What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish?
“Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment. Thought-provoking in its implications for education, economics, therapy, medicine, and public policy - the very fabric of society - Flourish tells inspiring stories of Positive Psychology in action, including how the entire U.S. Army is now trained in emotional resilience; how innovative schools can educate for fulfillment in life and not just for workplace success; and how corporations can improve performance at the same time as they raise employee well-being.
With interactive exercises to help readers explore their own attitudes and aims, Flourish is a watershed in the understanding of happiness as well as a tool for getting the most out of life. On the cutting edge of a science that has changed millions of lives, Dr. Seligman now creates the ultimate extension and capstone of his best-selling classics, Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism.
“Brilliant, beautiful, useful, and true. How many books can you say that about? Well, you can say it for sure about Flourish. Written by a master of research as well as a thoroughly joyful man, Flourish will allow you to flourish if you simply read the book and follow its sane, sage, ground-breaking advice. Skeptics, beware! This book will prove you wrong. You actually can plan your way to a joyful and fulfilling life. Read and rejoice!” (Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Shine: Using Brain Science to Bring the Best from Your People)
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A rambling tease.
- M. Shults
Too much sizzle, not enough steak
I listened to Authentic Happiness and found it a truly useful book for my own personal development. I saw Flourish advertised as the next great thing. Happiness is not enough, the author says. We need to learn to flourish. Okay, I thought, tell me more. I bought the book to learn more.
The first segment does give us a teaser -- the PERMA concept: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement. However, the author breezes through these, out of order, and while giving us a taste of how these could be achieved. But only a taste. There are a few personal exercises that the reader can try out, but far too few.
Instead, the bulk of the book is a detailed accounting of the many groups that Seligman applied his principals to and all that they achieved. As I listened, I felt first a growing sense of unease, then anger. Each group was made up of elite people: wealthy high-achievers who were carefully selected from a large pool of applicants to take a very expensive course from Seligman and company; more wealthy high-achievers who came to Seligman with their own projects; a boarding school in rural Australia, which sounded promising, until we learn it's an exclusive boarding school for children of the uppermost of upper crust, including English princes. Each group tried out Seligman's Flourish principle, and to no one's surprise, they all flourished.
As I heard story after story of privileged people who paid large sums to be allowed to take part in Seligman's program, I kept thinking, "Lovely, but what about the rest us? What about the poor slobs like me, commuting to work every day, who spent good money on this book? What do you have for us? Are we allowed some part of your program? Some hint of how to improve ourselves beyond a couple of exercises at the start of the book?"Apparently not. We only get to hear how other people, with wealth enough to buy Seligman's time, get the details of this new Flourish program. The rest of us are only allowed to watch from a distance.
While Authentic Happiness is worth picking up, I don't advise spending time or money on Flourish.
I'd also like to issue a challenge to Dr. Seligman: Try your Flourish program on another school. Let's try a tiny rural high school, or an inner city public elementary, or an underfunded community college, or an school on Reservation lands in the U.S. Try this with everyday people struggling to make ends meet in a stagnant economy. Will they flourish, too, Dr. Seligman? Will they ever have the chance to find out?