Learned Optimism (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 27 September 2015 00:00

mentioned in Dog Ear how I wasn't going to review this. I then decided, what the hey, a book's a book, right?

This kinda came to light in a recent rough patch in the relationship (like YOU don't have them). I mentioned that I have problems with a depression (and how to tell if your's are extreme - they certainly feel extreme, don't they?). So the book was pushed on me.

I swallowed it like I would caster oil. Ugh. Just dry medical studies, cases proving the good doctor's point, and little inter-psychology battles he faced. At first I didn't think I'd even get through it - tough read. But it comes with a test you can take that tells you how you deal with situations, if you are optimistic or pessimistic, and how bad it is.

What's at stake here? Turns out optimists are more resilient to diseases. They live longer. They have less  problems, more friends, richer lives. And it's all right there, study after drab study. But I'll give Dr. Seligman credit; he raised some very interesting points. Like why, if optimism is so good, didn't we evolve past it. And is optimism always the best strategy? There were some very thought-provoking points raised, ones that I'm carrying with me.

The book also comes with the test he gives people to determine where they fall. He's pretty much got this down to a science, no pun intended - and has used it on everything from Naval Academy entrants to life insurance salesmen, using it to determine who will succeed (optimists) and who will fail (pessimists). So I took the test and was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't as bad as I thought - overall, I'm somewhat optimistic. I guess you could tell that from my political stance.

But don't dispair - even if you come up with a boner score, there are strategies in the back (journaling and the like) to help you turn a leaf and become a more optimistic person. So you're not stuck, but you've work ahead of you.

Overall (and looking back while tearing through an action book) I'd have to say I found it useful. Comes down to this - if you think you are pessimistic, if life is getting your down and everything feels useless and pointless, maybe you should consider getting this book. No, it's not a fun read but it is a very useful one.


Last Updated on Sunday, 27 September 2015 12:20


0 #1 Keith R. 2015-09-28 08:04
Cool. I've heard of t but never read it. Just downloaded a sample to my Kindle to checkout. I also picked up a copy of Retyrment too.

I think I'm more optimistic, but I find myself at odds with negative thinkers that say that I'm not 'realistic' you know, like they are ;) so I'm curious to review his tests.

I had a dark time during my divorce, my favorite book that I recommend to everyone is Feeling Good by David D. Burns M.D. That book is full of funny stories and discusses that what tends to bring us down are automatic negative thoughts that are really irrational when you put them on paper; so if addressed you can start to feel better in one sitting! Chapter 2 has an excellent quiz to rate your level of depression. Some people suffer all their life just under the radar.
0 #2 admin 2015-09-28 08:26
Many thanks for the feedback on this. Yes, it's actually good to formalize ones understandings of ones emotions. For me, I have a real issue with stress. I tend to fuss about minor stuff and actually get wound up about stuff that should be enjoyable or fun.

And I'm now stressing about the train show this weekend, too!

And thanks for the purchase. Hope you enjoy ER!
0 #3 Greg Wells 2015-09-29 07:17
Overall nice review; As a friend. am glad you did take time to read and review then the book, especially since it made you do some thinking and reevaluation, like any really good non-fiction book should.
Besides we all know, our only encounter with castor oil should be: Burnt, misting in the face, behind that torqueing rotary engine of our Camel, Fokker or Nieuport!
0 #4 admin 2015-09-29 18:02
Did Germans burn caster oil too? At first, when you mentioned Fokkers, I was thinking inline DVIIs and was going to note it but yes, everything else the man made was a rotary.

And certainly, this was a tough read. I don't read much that isn't for pleasure these days, so getting something like this can be a bit a of bog-down. Still, very informative.

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