Learned Optimism By Martin E.P Seligman

Learned Optimism focuses on over 20 years of clinical research to show optimistism in society and the evolutionary benefits of pessimism. Martin Seligman, assisted by other prominent psychologist’s, predicted MLB/NBA records, presidential elections, and how effective employees/students will perform solely by analyzing speech patterns for optimism. The book also has tests that you can use to measure your own levels of optimism/pessimism. 

Rating: 3.8/5



  • Depression is a disorder of the “I”, failing in your own eyes relative to your goals.

  • In more than 90% of cases, depression is episodic: it comes and then it goes. 

  • When failure occurs, it is because either talent or desire is missing. But failure also can occur when talent and desire are present in abundance but optimism is missing. 

  • The way we think, especially about health, changes our health.

  • Optimists catch fewer infectious diseases then pessimist do.

  • Optimists have better health habits than pessimist do.

  • Our immune system may work better when we are optimistic.

  • Evidence suggest that optimists live longer than pessimist. 

  • Depressed people often take much more responsibility for bad events than is warranted. 

  • Normal depression is extremely common— it’s the common cold mental illness. At any moment approximately 25% of us are going through an episode of normal depression. 

  • “What do you mean you can’t live without love? Utter nonsense. Love comes rarely in life, and if you waste your life mooning over it’s all too ordinary absence, you’re bringing on your own depression.” 

  • Emotions come directly from what we think: Think “I am in danger“ and you feel anxiety. Think “I am being trespassed against” and you feel anger. Think “Loss” and you feel sadness. 

  • A recipe for severe depression is pre-existing pessimism encountering failure. 

  • Drugs seem to be activators; they push the patient up and out, but they do not make the whole world look any brighter. Cognitive therapy change the way you look at things, and this new, optimistic style gets you up and around. 

  • Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure.

  • For optimists, defeat is a challenge, a mere setback on the road to inevitable victory. They see defeat as temporary. 

  • What we say to ourselves when we face a setback can be just as baseless as the ravings of a jealous rival. Our reflexive explanations are usually distortions. They are mere bad habits of thought produced by unpleasant experiences in the past.

  • The most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show that it is factually incorrect. 

  • We have found that merely repeating positive statements to yourself does not raise mood or achievement very much, if at all. It is how you cope with negative statements that has an effect. Usually the negative beliefs that follow adversity are in accurate. 

  • Anytime you find yourself down or anxious or angry, ask what you are saying to yourself. Sometimes that belief will turn out to be accurate; when this is so, concentrate on the ways you can alter the situation and prevent adversity from becoming disaster. Usually your negative beliefs are distortions. Challenge them. Don’t let them run your emotional life. 

  • What you think when things go wrong, what you say to yourself when you come to the wall, will determine what happens next: whether you give up or whether you start to make things go right. 

  • Pessimism has a role to play, both in society at large and in our own lives; we must have the courage to endure pessimism when it’s perspective as a valuable. What we want is not blind optimism but flexible optimism— optimism with his eyes open. We must be able to use pessimism’s keen sense of reality when we need it, but without having to dwell in it’s dark shadows. 

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