AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS --- USING THE NEW POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY TO REALIZE YOUR POTENTIAL FOR LASTING FULFILLMENT by Martin E. P. Seligman. Free Press, 2002



PREFACE --- There is not a shred of evidence that strength and virtue are derived from "negative motivation!" Since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, the relevance of "Positive Psychology" has been pondered and tested. In times of trouble, the understanding and alleviating of suffering does not trump (obliterate) the understanding and building of happiness! (pxiii)

People who are impoverished, depressed, or suicidal care about much more than just the relief of their suffering. These "disadvantaged" people care --- sometimes desperately --- about virtue and about purpose in their lives and integrity and they wonder about the meaning of their lives! (pxi-xiv)

Experiences that induce positive emotion cause negative emotion to dissipate rapidly. That is because the strengths and virtues function to buffer against misfortune and against the "psychological disorders." And, they are the key to building resilience! The best therapists both heal damage and help sufferers identify and build their strengths and their virtues! (pxiv)

    [1] Evolution has favored both good and bad traits. Many adaptive roles in the world have selected for morality, cooperation, altruism and goodness, while many have selected for murder, theft, self-seeking and terrorism! This dual-aspect premise is the cornerstone of the second half of the book. (pxiii)

    [2] Authentic happiness comes from identifying and cultivating your most fundamental strengths and using them every day in work, love, play and parenting! (pxiii)

    [3] Positive psychology makes THREE basic assumptions:

      (1) First is the study of "positive emotion"

      (2) Second is the study of the "positive traits," foremost among them the "strengths and virtues," and also the "abilities" such as intelligence and athleticism.

      (3) Third is the study of the "positive institutions," such as democracy, strong families, and free inquiry, that support the virtues, which in turn support the positive emotions!

PART 1 --- POSITIVE EMOTION (p1-121)

    1) Positive feeling and positive character (p3-16)

    2) How psychology lost its way and I found mine (p17-29)

    3) Why bother to be happy (p30-44)

    4) Can you make yourself lastingly happier? (p45-61)

    5) Satisfaction about the past (p62-82)

    6) Optimism about the future (p83-101)

    7) Happiness in the present (p102-121)

PART 2 --- STRENGTH AND VIRTUE (p123-161)

    8) Reviewing strength and virtue (p125-133)

    9) Your "Signature Strengths" (p134-161)

PART 3 --- IN THE MANSIONS OF LIFE (p163-260)

    10) Work and personal satisfaction (p165-184)

    11) Love (p185-207)

    12) Raising children (p208-246)

    13) Reprise and summary (p247-249)

    14) Meaning and purpose (p250-260)

    The "GOOD LIFE" consists in deriving happiness by using your "signature strengths" every day in the main realms of living. The "meaningful life" adds one more component, namely, using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness! A life that does this is pregnant with meaning!!

    If you believe in science and democracy and worship "LIFE ITSELF," your life is sacred and can be filled with happiness!

      [1] A creative process that continually selects for more complexity is ultimately aimed at nothing less than omniscience, omnipotence, and goodness! The best we can do as individuals is to choose to be a small part of furthering this progress. This is the "door" through which meaning that transcends us can enter our lives! (p260)

      [2] A meaningful life is one that joins with something larger than we are. You can choose a life that forwards these goals, to a greater or lesser degree. And the larger that something is, the more meaning your life can have! (p260)

      In other words, you can choose a life built around increasing knowledge by learning, or teaching, or educating your children, or by being involved in science, literature, journalism. Also, you can choose a life built around increasing goodness through the law, policing, fire fighting, religion, ethics, politics, national service, or charity ---or even librarianship!) (p260)

      [3] Or you can, quite easily, choose a life that has nothing to do with these goals. You can even choose a life that actively impedes them! (p260)

APPENDIX --- Terminology and Theory (p261-264)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (p265-269))

ENDNOTES (p271-304)

INDEX (p305-319)

PERMISSIONS (p320-321)


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