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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment [Anglais] [Broché]

Martin E. P. Seligman
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Description de l'ouvrage

5 janvier 2004
A national bestseller, Authentic Happiness launched the revolutionary new science of Positive Psychology—and sparked a coast-to-coast debate on the nature of real happiness.

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Using practical exercises, brief tests, and a dynamic website program, Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered. Accessible and proven, Authentic Happiness is the most powerful work of popular psychology in years.

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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment + Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being + Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
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Extrait

Chapter One: Positive Feeling And Positive Character

In 1932, Cecilia O'Payne took her final vows in Milwaukee. As a novice in the School Sisters of Notre Dame, she committed the rest of her life to the teaching of young children. Asked to write a short sketch of her life on this momentous occasion, she wrote:

God started my life off well by bestowing upon me grace of inestimable value....The past year which I spent as a candidate studying at Notre Dame has been a very happy one. Now I look forward with eager joy to receiving the Holy Habit of Our Lady and to a life of union with Love Divine.

In the same year, in the same city, and taking the same vows, Marguerite Donnelly wrote her autobiographical sketch:

I was born on September 26, 1909, the eldest of seven children, five girls and two boys....My candidate year was spent in the motherhouse, teaching chemistry and second year Latin at Notre Dame Institute. With God's grace, I intend to do my best for our Order, for the spread of religion and for my personal sanctification.

These two nuns, along with 178 of their sisters, thereby became subjects in the most remarkable study of happiness and longevity ever done.

Investigating how long people will live and understanding what conditions shorten and lengthen life is an enormously important but enormously knotty scientific problem. It is well documented, for example, that people from Utah live longer than people from the neighboring state of Nevada. But why? Is it the clean mountain air of Utah as opposed to the exhaust fumes of Las Vegas? Is it the staid Mormon life as opposed to the more frenetic lifestyle of the average Nevadan? Is it the stereotypical diet in Nevada -- junk food, late-night snacks, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco -- as opposed to wholesome, farm-fresh food, and the scarcity of alcohol, coffee, and tobacco in Utah? Too many insidious (as well as healthful) factors are confounded between Nevada and Utah for scientists to isolate the cause.

Unlike Nevadans or even Utahans, however, nuns lead routine and sheltered lives. They all eat roughly the same bland diet. They don't smoke or drink. They have the same reproductive and marital histories. They don't get sexually transmitted diseases. They are in the same economic and social class, and they have the same access to good medical care. So almost all the usual confounds are eliminated, yet there is still wide variation in how long nuns live and how healthy they are. Cecilia is still alive at age ninety-eight and has never been sick a day in her life. In contrast, Marguerite had a stroke at age fifty-nine, and died soon thereafter. We can be sure their lifestyle, diet, and medical care were not the culprits. When the novitiate essays of all 180 nuns were carefully read, however, a very strong and surprising difference emerged. Looking back at what Cecilia and Marguerite wrote, can you spot it?

Sister Cecilia used the words "very happy" and "eager joy," both expressions of effervescent good cheer. Sister Marguerite's autobiography, in contrast, contained not even a whisper of positive emotion. When the amount of positive feeling was quantified by raters who did not know how long the nuns lived, it was discovered that 90 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age eighty-five versus only 34 percent of the least cheerful quarter. Similarly, 54 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age ninety-four, as opposed to 11 percent of the least cheerful quarter.

Was it really the upbeat nature of their sketches that made the difference? Perhaps it was a difference in the degree of unhappiness expressed, or in how much they looked forward to the future, or how devout they were, or how intellectually complex the essays were. But research showed that none of these factors made a difference, only the amount of positive feeling expressed in the sketch. So it seems that a happy nun is a long-lived nun.

College yearbook photos are a gold mine for Positive Psychology researchers. "Look at the birdie and smile," the photographer tells you, and dutifully you put on your best smile. Smiling on demand, it turns out, is easier said than done. Some of us break into a radiant smile of authentic good cheer, while the rest of us pose politely. There are two kinds of smiles. The first, called a Duchenne smile (after its discoverer, Guillaume Duchenne), is genuine. The corners of your mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of your eyes crinkles (like crow's feet). The muscles that do this, the orbicularis oculi and the zygomaticus, are exceedingly difficult to control voluntarily. The other smile, called the Pan American smile (after the flight attendants in television ads for the now-defunct airline), is inauthentic, with none of the Duchenne features. Indeed, it is probably more related to the rictus that lower primates display when frightened than it is to happiness.

When trained psychologists look through collections of photos, they can at a glance separate out the Duchenne from the non-Duchenne smilers. Dacher Keltner and LeeAnne Harker of the University of California at Berkeley, for example, studied 141 senior-class photos from the 1960 yearbook of Mills College. All but three of the women were smiling, and half of the smilers were Duchenne smilers. All the women were contacted at ages twenty-seven, forty-three, and fifty-two and asked about their marriages and their life satisfaction. When Harker and Keltner inherited the study in the 1990s, they wondered if they could predict from the senior-year smile alone what these women's married lives would turn out to be like. Astonishingly, Duchenne women, on average, were more likely to be married, to stay married, and to experience more personal well-being over the next thirty years. Those indicators of happiness were predicted by a mere crinkling of the eyes.

Questioning their results, Harker and Keltner considered whether the Duchenne women were prettier, and their good looks rather than the genuineness of their smile predicted more life satisfaction. So the investigators went back and rated how pretty each of the women seemed, and they found that looks had nothing to do with good marriages or life satisfaction. A genuinely smiling woman, it turned out, was simply more likely to be well-wed and happy.

These two studies are surprising in their shared conclusion that just one portrait of a momentary positive emotion convincingly predicts longevity and marital satisfaction. The first part of this book is about these momentary positive emotions: joy, flow, glee, pleasure, contentment, serenity, hope, and ecstasy. In particular, I will focus on three questions:

Why has evolution endowed us with positive feeling? What are the functions and consequences of these emotions, beyond making us feel good?

Who has positive emotion in abundance, and who does not? What enables these emotions, and what disables them?

How can you build more and lasting positive emotion into your life?

Everyone wants answers to these questions for their own lives and it is natural to turn to the field of psychology for answers. So it may come as a surprise to you that psychology has badly neglected the positive side of life. For every one hundred journal articles on sadness, there is just one on happiness. One of my aims is to provide responsible answers, grounded in scientific research, to these three questions. Unfortunately, unlike relieving depression (where research has now provided step-by-step manuals that are reliably documented to work), what we know about building happiness is spotty. On some topics I can present solid facts, but on others, the best I can do is to draw inferences from the latest research and suggest how it can guide your life. In all cases, I will distinguish between what is known and what is my speculation. My most grandiose aim, as you will find out in the next three chapters, is to correct the imbalance by propelling the field of psychology into supplementing its hard-won knowledge about suffering and mental illness with a great deal more knowledge about positive emotion, as well as about personal strengths and virtues.

How do strengths and virtues sneak in? Why is a book about Positive Psychology about anything more than "happiology" or hedonics -- the science of how we feel from moment to moment? A hedonist wants as many good moments and as few bad moments as possible in his life, and simple hedonic theory says that the quality of his life is just the quantity of good moments minus the quantity of bad moments. This is more than an ivory-tower theory, since very many people run their lives based on exactly this goal. But it is a delusion, I believe, because the sum total of our momentary feelings turns out to be a very flawed measure of how good or how bad we judge an episode -- a movie, a vacation, a marriage, or an entire life -- to be.

Daniel Kahneman, a distinguished professor of psychology at Princeton and the world's leading authority on hedonics, has made a career of demonstrating the many violations of simple hedonic theory. One technique he uses to test hedonic theory is the colonoscopy, in which a scope on a tube is inserted uncomfortably into the rectum and moved up and down the bowels for what seems like an eternity, but is actually only a few minutes. In one of Kahneman's experiments, 682 patients were randomly assigned to either the usual colonoscopy or to a procedure in which one extra minute was added on at the end, but with the colonoscope not moving. A stationary colonoscope provides a less uncomfortable final minute than what went before, but it does add one extra minute of discomfort. The added minute means, of course, that this group gets more total pain than the routine group. Because their experience ends relatively well, however, their memory of the episode is much rosier and, astonishingly, they are more willing to undergo the procedure again than the routine group.

In your own life, you should take particu...

Revue de presse

Caroline Myss Author of Sacred Contracts Authentic Happiness is delightful and richly insightful. Martin Seligman has written a very practical book, guiding readers to make positive choices in life.

Steven Pinker Author of The Language Instinct A highly insightful scientific and personal reflection on the nature of happiness, from one of the most creative and influential psychologists of our time.

Elle A bold new plan for taking control of your life and finding lasting happiness.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 336 pages
  • Editeur : Atria Books; Édition : Reprint (5 janvier 2004)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0743222989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743222983
  • Dimensions du produit: 21,5 x 13,9 x 2,1 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 40.373 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
  • Table des matières complète
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7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 very inspiring 24 mars 2008
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This book is certainly one of the most important ones among all those I have read up to now. Based on a solid scientific research work, it shows that our future is not conditioned by our past and it clearly explains how to take control over one's life. This book helps me play a more positive role in my job and in my family.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Une référence sur la psychologie positive 12 novembre 2013
Par Julien
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Martin Seligman livre ici une bible de la psychologie positive. Il cherche à accompagner le lecteur en le faisant se découvrir mieux lui même et lui enseignant des techniques permettant d'accéder à une vie + heureuse.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  166 commentaires
133 internautes sur 138 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Extremely valuable book, but needs to be read more than once 29 octobre 2005
Par W. ALLEN - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I quickly read this book a couple of years ago and thought it was very good, but I got little benefit. Then, called to jury duty, I grabbed it going out the door. Sitting a room in LA with 200 people and after reading 4 newspapers, I reread the first 100 pages of this book. But I read it the way I did textbooks, pen in hand, underlining, diagraming, analyzing and synthesizing. I digested the book. I did the forgiveness exercise. I took the surveys and I added up my scores. Then I did the appreciation exercise. I was struck that several of the people I decided I needed to forgive also turned up as people who did things for me that I greatly appreciated. I have moved work and wealth into a lower priority and moved my subjective health, fitness and nutrition into a higher priority. Now, I try to be mindful and savory the experiences of today. I am still struggling with other exercises and methods, but I am grateful to one more person, Dr. Seligman who wrote a great book. My family and coworders enjoy me more. I have ordered the audiobook, too. If you are chronically unhappy, irritable, often angry, this book may be life changing for you. But don't just breeze throught like I did the first time, read carefully and more than once.
100 internautes sur 105 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Real McCoy 2 novembre 2009
Par deepthinkr - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Written by the former president of the American Psychological Association, and author of over a dozen books including the popular Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, this title is one of the better selling happiness books out there.

While this is the kind of book I could write a really long review about, I think I'll just discuss what I consider to be the best bits for those looking for ways to become happier- which I think is why most people would buy this book. Soooo.....

1) the book provides the reader with a "happiness formula", which is H = S + C + V. This works out to happiness = your genetic Set point + intervening Circumstances + factors under you Voluntary control. So, since your can't do much about changing your genetics, when it comes to becoming happier, that leaves room for improvement in the areas of circumstances and voluntary activities.

2) the book suggests that if you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should: live in a wealthy democracy, get married, avoid negative events and negative emotion, acquire a rich social network, and get religion. Conversely, you needn't bother to do the following: make more money, stay healthy, get as much education as possible, or try to change your race or move to a sunnier climate. However even if you could alter all of these things, it would not do much for you as this stuff accounts for only a small part of your happiness. On to Voluntary efforts...

3) This is where most of the book spends a substantial part of its efforts showing you how to be happier, and there's a lot of "meat" to sink your teeth into, with sections on how to obtain more satisfaction with your past, what consitutes happiness about the future, and happiness in the present. Also, the book spend much time talking about how happiness can be cultivated by identifying and nurturing our traits, such as humor, optimism, generosity or kindness.

Readers who have read other happiness books will already be well familiar with the idea that the best way to increase your happiness is through intentional or voluntary activities. It makes a lot of sense, as you can't change your genetics, and circumstances are either out of your control, or make very little contributions to your happiness. Like this book, I agree that using intentional activities is the route to go when it comes to raising lasting happiness levels- and this book will help you out with that a lot. Readers might also be interested in The Prayer Project: How Each One of Us Can Make The World a Better Place to Live - In a Few Minutes a Day.
83 internautes sur 87 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Seligman's Online Site Beats the Book 7 février 2004
Par Arley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I heard about this book on NPR a few months ago and checked out the companion website (authentichappiness.org) before buying the book. The site has 17 questionnaires on happiness, optimism, relationships, emotion, and Seligman's trademark Values in Action Signature Strengths. You can take these tests days or weeks apart and track your progress. It's an excellent site and does the job of prompting you to buy the book.
The book just isn't as strong as the site. As noted it other reviews it's part autobiography, part research report and part self-help book. You'll get formulas like H = S + C + V (H is enduring level of happiness, S is your set range, C is the circumstances of your life, v is voluntary variables) and lots of self-congratulatory stories about Seligman's friends, colleagues, wife and kids. Not that any of that's bad, but I have to wonder if his editor didn't ask him "Are you sure you want to include this?"
Single greatest reminder of something I knew but had forgotten: "You can't change your past, but you can change your perception of it."
274 internautes sur 300 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An extremely worthwhile book 5 mars 2003
Par Robert Adler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
As a psychologist, I completely understand Martin Seligman's drive to free psychology from its obsession with negativity. Freud, he writes, made many people "unduly embittered about their past and unduly passive about their future," while clinical psychology focussed on diagnosing and treating mental disorders. In his new book, Authentic Happiness, Seligman goes a long way towards breaking psychology free from its love affair with pathology and replacing it with a far more positive approach.
I don't know of anyone with better credentials to guide readers through what psychology has discovered about happiness. Seligman's own research has contributed greatly to our understanding of the entire range of human experience from profound depression to "abundant gratification." His early, groundbreaking studies of learned helplessness provided great insight into inescapable trauma as a major source of helplessness and depression. He went on to study "learned optimism" as a powerful antidote to depression--his earlier book by that name is invaluable.
Now, Seligman sets out to provide readers with the insights and tools from the relatively new field of positive psychology. He does this with a rich mixture of anecdotes, personal revelations and research. In addition, he provides frequent self-assessments and exercises. I think that almost anyone who takes the time to read what Seligman has to say, who takes and thinks about the self assessments, and who does the exercises, will start thinking and acting in ways that lead to lasting happiness.
It's important to realize that Seligman is not a self-help guru by any stretch of the imagination. He is a leading research psychologist who builds on solid experimental findings. (Although the book is vividly written for the most part, at times Seligman's reliance on research findings slows things down.) Still, he is also devoted to the idea of making those often dry experiments as meaningful and useful as possible. He doesn't promise limitless bliss, but what he does offer may actually be reachable by ordinary, unenlightened people like us.
Early in the book Seligman makes the point that pleasure in itself is not the road to happiness. As we all know, pleasure is fleeting, and pursuing it can easily turn into addiction or futility. Instead Seligman identifies and values a set of nearly universal virtues which he believes lead to deep and lasting gratification. These include wisdom and knowledge, courage, love and humanity, justice, temperance, spirituality and transcendance. "The good life," he writes, "is using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification."
What I liked most about this book is that it made me feel good about myself, other people, and the "simple" virtues that make up much of the fabric of life, but which are often ignored and devalued. Kindness, tolerance, competence, interpersonal skills, a work ethic, and faith emerge as vital ingredients of a good, gratifying, happy life.
Authentic Happiness is not a miracle cure for all unhappiness. It is, however, a wise, well-informed, and extremely valuable guide to a more grounded, heartfelt and gratifying life.
Robert Adler, Author of _Sharing the Children: How to Resolve Custody Problems and Get on With Your Life_(1988, 2nd. Ed. 2001), and _Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation_ (2002).
61 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not that Helpful or Scientific 28 juin 2009
Par Jeffery A. Lewis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I really enjoyed "Learned Optimism" by the same author. It opened a world for me of how rumination can lead to depressing thoughts and how cognitive therapy can be used to change those thought patterns. Unfortunately I did not enjoy "Authentic Happiness". "Authentic Happiness" did not have the same purposeful focus as "Learned Optimism." I applaud Seligman's position on the needed direction of psychology. Psychology has been used to treat the mentally ill. This helps a small percentage of the population. Seligman argues psychology should be used to help mentally healthy people become happier. This will help many more people.

When I read the survey used to measure happiness on page 15, I started to question Seligman's scientific authority. This survey is basically a scale from 0 to 10 that you rate yourself on how happy or unhappy you usually feel. Then you provide the percentage of time you feel happy, unhappy, or neutral. That is it! This is about as scientific a way to measure happiness as you would get from a fashion magazine. If this is the best tool Seligman has to measure happiness, you have to question his conclusions about how to achieve happiness.

The second part of "Authentic Happiness" is about strength and virtue. Seligman argues that when you use your strengths to do virtuous acts, you will be on the road to authentic happiness. Sounds good, but once again, the survey provided to discover your signature strengths is pretty lame. Twenty-four strengths are identified (which are things like curiosity, valor and bravery, etc.) and then you rate yourself if the strength on a scale of 1 to 5 is "very much like me" or "very much unlike me." This seriously has very little depth.

The third part of the book is more a philosophical discussion about happiness in different aspects of life. It is more the author's subjective opinions.

All in all, "Authentic Happiness" does not really help you get closer to authentic happiness. It does not give you clear steps of how to change yourself to routinely exercise your signature strengths. And how you end up identifying your signature strengths is not all that enlightening.
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