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Authentic Happiness

Martin Seligman

More books on Happiness

Milwaukee nuns - positive ones live a lot longer

We don't measure happiness rationally - colonoscopy study showed endings remembered, over-impt.

Not just positive feelings - we want to feel entitled to them, so purchased don't satisfy.

Optimistic people interpret troubles as transient and controllable; pessimists think last forever and nothing can be done.

'Mature defences': altruism, defer gratification, humour, future mindedness, are robust predictors of joy of living and a vigorous old age.

We are the descendants of ancestors who rose to the occasion. The ones who didn't, din't pass on their genes. This means we all contain ancient strengths that we don't suspect until we are challenged.

No point in trying to overcome weaknesses. Better off trying to build up your signature strengths. Consider child rearing - positive reinf works, criticism doeasn't.

Everone has a set point for happiness - lottery winners and paraplegics quickly revert.

Stop worrying about the past. Change your thinking by increasing your gratitude for good things in past. Forgive yourself for past sins.

Pessimists do badly at almost everything (exams, sales, sports performance) except practicing law. Which also helps explain why lawyers the most unhappy occupational group. Also bc adverserial nature of law trials, lawyers trained to be aggressive, judgemental and detached - all qualities that make them less than desirable relationship prospects.

Study measured 'romantic illusion' - the discrepancy bt what yr partner believes about your strenghts and what your friends think. The bigger the discrepancy, the happier the couple. Satisfied couples see virtues in their partners that their friends overlook. happiest couple focus on the bright side of realtionship, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

Positive illusions are self-fulfilling bc partners try to live up to them.

All permutations of pessimist/optimist couples work, except for two pessimists married to each other. When untoward event happens, downward spiral starts.

An old king supposedly asked his wise men to come up with a sentence that wd always be true - "And this too, shall pass away."

List 5 happy memeories (1/4 of surveyed couldn't come up with 5), and then 5 unhappy ones. Time it takes you to list 5 is significant. Happy people can rattle off their 5 happy ones and take much longer to think of unhappy ones.

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