Seligman, M. 2011. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being (1st Free P.). New York: Free Press.

I was recently in a book store and came across this– couldn’t resist buying it.  I had Dr. Seligman as a professor in Experimental Psychology back in the ’60s, one of the few professors I remember well, and  his explanation of “learned helplessness” was one of my major take aways from that class.

The first 2/3 of the book was fascinating, the last 1/3 a bit looser.  He goes out on a limb in the preface and says that reading this book will help you flourish, and I think he is right.  All in all, his idea that “well-being” is the goal of positive psychology is well-reasoned and well documented.  He gives some exercises, some links to tests (yes, I am relatively optimistic), and follows a strengths-based approach.  A couple of quotes that I want to remember:

Re “applied” label for the new Masters of Applied Positive Psychology degree at Penn: “Even though Penn was founded by Benjamin Franklin to teach both the ‘applied’ and the ‘ornamental’, by which he meant ‘not currently useful’, the ornamental has long won out and I have labored for four decades as the ‘applied’ maverick in an almost solely ornamental department.”

“Popper accused Wittgenstein of suborning an entire generation of philosophers by setting them to work on puzzles — the preliminary to the preliminaries.  Philosophy, Popper argued, should not be about puzzles but about problems: morality, science, politics, religion, and law.”

“Good science requires the interplay of analysis and synthesis.”

“Application often points the way toward basic research, whereas basic research without a clue about how it might be applied is usually just wanking.”