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Book Review: "Learned Optimism" – By Dr. Martin Seligman

“Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” – by Martin E. Seligman

Can optimism be learned? How do you go about it? These were the questions that popped up in my mind when I came across this book. The book starts off with a short introduction followed by a 48-question test. You need to complete the test before you can read the rest of the book.

Dr. Seligman builds a concept of optimism and pessimism based on how we typically react to favorable or non-favorable events in our lives. He shows how we explain good or bad things that happened to us, and defines explanatory styles such as “permanent,” “temporary,” “internalized,” “externalized,” “pervasive” or “non-pervasive.” Using these as the tools to examine our own reactions to various situations, we can understand how we deal with those, how it affects us, and how we could do better. The book illustrates why thinking about the worst possible outcome in every situation can make us pessimistic, and miss out on opportunities.

What this book gives you is set of analytical tools that can help you to stay on top of what is happening, how you are reacting, and how to make the best of the situation using “flexible optimism.” Dr. Seligman also cautions about situations where pessimism is a better option. For example, a pilot planning an emergency landing needs to think about the worst case scenario for the safety of everyone.

I enjoyed listening to this book on Audible, and would highly recommend either the audio version or the printed book.

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