Term Paper: Seligman's Authentic Happiness Martin

Pages: 7 (2403 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] In the Mansions of Life" makes up the final part of Authentic Happiness. Chapter ten deals with "Work and personal satisfaction." Seligman begins with a historical examination of work and then moves on to consider dissatisfaction of lawyers in particular. Seligman mentions three factors that contribute to lawyer unhappiness; pessimism, a sense of no control over decisions, and a win-loss mentality.

Firstly, what this chapter taught me is that having career choices is a relatively new phenomenon. Also, happiness increases if you think you're following your calling. "There has been an important discovery in this field: any job can become a calling, and any calling can become a job." (p168). Finally, life satisfaction is becoming a more important factor in career decisions than money.

Chapter eleven is entitled "Love." Love is considered to be a vital aspect of the cultivation of Seligman's authentic happiness. Love can be fostered by close attention to nurturing it, as well as the feeling that our love and loved ones are irreplaceable. The ability to love is also something that can be developed if it doesn't come as a natural strength.

From this chapter, I learned that there are three styles of relationships; secure, avoidant and anxious. Secondly, marriages work optimally when the partners employ their signature strengths. Finally, there are certain factors that can predict a couple will divorce, such as negative body language and excessive criticism.

Chapter twelve of Authentic Happiness deals with raising children. Issues such as sibling rivalry and praise and punishment are examined with the goal of fostering happiness in children. Seligman emphasizes that the same principals of building upon strengths and virtues that are so important for adults are equally important for children.

From chapter twelve I learned that constantly praising your child regardless of behavior can cause a child to become passive and have difficulty discerning actual accomplishments. Also, I learned that Seligman considers the time just before your child goes to sleep to be "the most precious of the day." (p226). Finally, this chapter indicated that the main goal of parenting a child under seven is encouraging positive emotion. After seven, parenting can focus on revealing and developing strengths.

The thirteenth chapter is entitled "Reprise and Summary." This chapter offers a chance to retake the test on happiness that appeared earlier in the book. Seligman uses this chapter to re-emphasize his point that happiness is achievable and there are several routes to its attainment.

From the penultimate chapter I learned that pleasures can be increased by greater mindfulness and decreasing the habituation effects. Secondly, I learned that a good life is built upon one's strengths. Finally, I learned that to lead a meaningful life involves "the service of something larger than you are." (p249).

Chapter fourteen, "Meaning and Purpose" concludes Seligman's popular introduction to positive psychology. This final chapter is largely anecdotal and recounts the author's conversation with a colleague. In it he puts forth the idea that negative emotions were beneficial in a win-loss culture. If we can move towards a win-win culture, then positive emotions will supplant negative ones. Finally, Seligman brings up the intriguing idea that the movement to increasing complexity and positivity is the process of creating a God. The author concludes Authentic Happiness by defining a full life:

Experiencing positive emotions about the past and future, savoring positive feelings from the pleasures, deriving abundant gratification from your signature strengths, and using these strengths in the service of something larger to obtain meaning. (p263).

Seligman's final chapter taught me that we are evolving into a win-win culture. Also, we are becoming a more complex society and finally, I learned that Seligman doesn't necessarily believe a scientific mind and a spiritual one to be mutually exclusive.

There was much in Authentic Happiness that I could use to foster more positive emotions in my life. Firstly, diagnosing my current state of happiness would show me how much room for improvement there is (ch.1). I shouldn't automatically reject psychological findings as being overly negative (ch.2) as the positive psychology movement is seeking to address this. I should recognize knowledge as the foundation for wisdom and seek to gain knowledge where I can (ch.3). Chapter four tells me that I should expand my pursuits beyond monetary ones, as "you...rapidly and inevitably adapt to good things by taking them for granted." (p49). I can also increase my level of happiness by forgiving people responsible for negative emotions in the past, be more optimistic about the future by refuting negative self-talk, and appreciate the moment more by savoring transitory pleasures. (ch5,6 & 7). Chapter eight offers six virtues I should develop more and chapter nine provides the means to do so, by diagnosing my signature strengths and focusing on them. The final section offers very applicable advice for increasing my happiness such as viewing work environments as a win-win situation (ch10) and persevering in loving relationships by paying greater attention (ch11). Chapter twelve contains a useful survey to keep in mind for diagnosing the strengths of any future children. Authentic Happiness concludes by encouraging me to lead a more meaningful life by appreciating the spiritual potential that exists in living a more positive life.


Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: The Free Press. [END OF PREVIEW]

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