Martin Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman

Martin
Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman
1942

American Psychologist, Educator and Author

Author Quotes

The drive to resist compulsion is more important in wild animals than sex, food, or water. He found that captive white-footed mice spent inordinate time and energy just resisting experimental manipulation. If the experimenters turned the lights up, the mouse spent his time turning them down. If the experimenter turned the lights down, the mouse turned them up. The drive for competence or to resist compulsion is a drive to avoid helplessness.

It's a matter of ABC: When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don't even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don't just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES. The beliefs are the direct cause of what we feel and what we do next. They can spell the difference between dejection and giving up, on the one hand, and well-being and constructive action on the other. The first step is to see the connection between adversity, belief, and consequence. The second step is to see how the ABCs operate every day in your own life.

Happiness in the present moment consists of very different states from happiness about the past and about the future, and itself embraces two very distinct kinds of things: pleasures and gratifications. The pleasures are delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components, what philosophers call "raw feels"; ecstasy, thrills, orgasm, delight, mirth, exuberance, and comfort. They are evanescent, and they involve little, if any, thinking. The gratifications are activities we very much like doing, but they are not necessarily accompanied by any raw feelings at all. Rather, the gratifications engage us fully, we become immersed and absorbed in them, and we lose self-consciousness. Enjoying a great conversation, rock climbing, reading a good book, dancing, and making a slam dunk are all examples of activities in which time stops for us, our skills match the challenge, and we are in touch with our strengths. The gratifications last longer than the pleasures, they involve quite a lot of thinking and interpretation, they do not habituate easily, and they are undergirded by our strengths and virtues.

Kindness... consists in total engagement and in the loss of consciousness.

Positive emotion alienated from the exercise of character leads to emptiness, inauthenticity, to depression and, as we age, to the gnawing realization that we are fidgeting until we die.

The very good news is there is quite a number of internal circumstances [...] under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly.

Pleasure is the least consequential... engagement and meaning are much more important.

We deprive our children, our charges, of persistence. What I am trying to say is that we need to fail, children need to fail, we need to feel sad, anxious and anguished. If we impulsively protect ourselves and our children, as the feel-good movement suggests, we deprive them of learning-persistence skills.

Money, amazingly, is losing its power... Our economy is rapidly changing from a money economy to a satisfaction economy.

Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope: Temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation.

People who believe they cause good things tend to like themselves better than people who believe good things come from other people or circumstances.

Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair.

It … came as a shock to us to discover that there are no less than six virtues that are endorsed across every major religious and cultural tradition. … Wisdom and knowledge, Courage, Love and humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Spirituality and Transcendence.

The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness. A life that does this is pregnant with meaning, and if God comes at the end, such a life is sacred.

The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future.

The good life: using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification in the main realms of your life.

The meaningful life: using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.

Herein lies the likely reason for feelings. Just as negative feelings are a "here-be-dragons" sensory system that alarms you, telling you unmistakably that you are in a win-lose encounter, the feeling part of positive emotion is also sensory. Positive feeling is a neon "here-be-growth" marquee that tells you that a potential win-win encounter is at hand.

Whether or not we have hope depends on two dimensions of our explanatory style; pervasiveness and permanence. Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope: Temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation. On the other hand, permanent causes produce helplessness far into the future, and universal causes spread helplessness through all your endeavors. Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair... The optimistic style of explaining good events is the opposite of that used for bad events: It's internal rather than external. People who believe they cause good things tend to like themselves better than people who believe good things come from other people or circumstances.

When we are happy, we are less self-focused, we like others more, and we want to share our good fortune even with strangers. When we are down, though, we become distrustful, turn inward, and focus defensively on our own needs. Looking out for Number One is more characteristic of sadness than of well-being.

I think we are our memories more than we are the sum total of our experiences.

The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness. A life that does this is pregnant with meaning, and if God comes at the end, such a life is sacred.

There are, in fact, few stronger predictors of happiness than a close, nurturing, equitable, intimate, lifelong companionship with one's best friend.

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.

Optimism is just a useful adjunct to wisdom. By itself it cannot provide meaning. Optimism is a tool to help the individual achieve the goals he has set for himself. It is in the choice of the goals themselves that meaning - or emptiness - resides. When learned optimism is coupled with a renewed commitment to the commons [common good], our epidemic of depression and meaninglessness may end.

Emotions and actions do not usually follow adversity directly. Rather, they issue directly from your beliefs about adversity. This means that if you change your mental response to adversity, you can cope with setbacks much better.

Increasing your gratitude about the good things in your past intensifies positive memories, and learning how to forgive past wrongs defuses the bitterness that makes satisfaction impossible.

Author Picture
First Name
Martin
Last Name
Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman
Birth Date
1942
Bio

American Psychologist, Educator and Author