$100 Book Review: Authentic Happiness

Written by William Sheridan

Authentic Happiness

Authentic Happiness

Martin E.P. Seligman
Free Press, 2002     $22     Trade paperback

Smiles sell

Martin Seligman’s research has taught him that overcoming pessimism can be learned — and that it’s good for business. It’s quite an insight for his profession, because most psychologists have previously focused on pathology.

Even though about half of a person’s outlook is genetically determined, says Seligman in Authentic Happiness, the other half can be improved. People are more likely to do business with those with a pleasant demeanor. Why buy from a sourpuss if a seller with a smile is available?

What contributes to a positive outlook? You need an attitude that agreeable events reflect the natural order, whereas disagreeable happenings are aberrations. When you catch yourself about to groan, you need to argue with yourself that your attitude, rather than the facts of the case, determines your outlook — and to stay positive, you can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.

The book also reveals some surprises about positive psychology. Clinical evidence shows that a good attitude contributes toward better health, but declining health doesn’t necessarily produce a negative outlook. Also, while achieving wealth contributes to a positive outlook, those who value money more than all other goals are less satisfied with their lives. Fulfilling success requires a balanced life and a larger purpose than simple acquisitiveness.

William Sheridan
Advisor, Knowledge Management
Informetrica Ltd.

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© 2004 William Sheridan

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com