Positive psychology books

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SeligmanPerhaps you’ve noticed that positive psychology seems to be everywhere. This relatively new field was started by Dr. Martin Seligman in 1998 she he declared at the opening session at the American Psychology Association (APA) that he was going to launch a new branch of psychology to study “what is right with people” (what enhances well-being, what makes us flourish, what makes us human) instead of simply focusing on the traditional, diagnostic model that centers around “what is wrong with people” and how to “treat or medicate” problems.

Soaringwords is an organization built on a Positive Psychology framework, beginning with its mission – to lessen the impact of serious illness by connecting ill children and their families to a community of compassionate volunteers who inspire them to “Never give up!”

In 2012-2013, Lisa Buksbaum, Soaringwords’ CEO & Founder, studied with Dr. Seligman. She received a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, her undergraduate alma mater.  Her master’s thesis was an empirical research study with hundreds of hospitalized children to measure the impact of a positive psychology intervention (the receiving and making of a SoaringSuperhero artwork and message) to enhance patient well-being. Read the thesis here. The conclusions included the creation of a new positive psychology construct called S-O-A-R which means that when patients are invited to do something Somatic they experience heightened Altruism and Agency, Resilience and Reciprocity.

Here you will find the latest and greatest positive psychology books by the leading experts in the field today.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being By Martin E. P. Seligman
Internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman presents his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life — for individuals, for communities, and for nations. In a fascinating evolution of thought and practice, Flourish refines what Positive Psychology is all about.

You will be able to experience the most popular (empirically validated) positive psychology interventions such as the Gratitude Visit; What –Went-Well Exercise; Signature Strengths Exercise; and Three Good Things. Scientific studies of many of these positive interventions have resulted in short and long-term increases in well-being.

Authentic Happiness
Authentic Happiness, By
Martin E. P. Seligman
Drawing on groundbreaking psychological research, Seligman shows how Positive Psychology is shifting the profession’s paradigm away from its narrow-minded focus on pathology, victimology, and mental illness to positive emotion, virtue and strength, and positive institutions.

This book provides lots of tools that you can use immediately such as Satisfaction About the Past survey; Optimism about the Future survey; and Happiness in the Present. Dr. Seligman provides many easy to use tools as Savoring and Mindfulness.  Marty includes a chapter on Character Strengths and Virtues and how to use your Signature Strengths. The third part of the book focuses on Mansions of Life: Work and Personal Satisfaction; Love; Raising Children; Meaning and Purpose.

love 2.0
Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, By Barbara Fredrickson
We all know love matters, but in this groundbreaking book positive emotions expert Barbara Fredrickson shows us how much it matters to giving us micro-moments of connection. Even more than happiness and optimism, love holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our lives.

Watch a conversation with Barbara Fredrickson and Soaringwords’ Founder Lisa Buksbaum talking about how Love 2.0 can transform your life… and it’s not what you think! 

Positivity, By Barbara Fredrickson
World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more vibrant, and flourishing life through a process she calls “the upward spiral.”

You’ll discover:

  • What positivity is, and why it needs to be heartfelt to be effective
  • The ten sometimes surprising forms of positivity
  • Why positivity is more important than happiness
  • How positivity can enhance relationships, work, and health, and how it relieves depression, broadens minds, and builds lives
  • A discussion of the “negativity bias” how people are pre-disposed to negative things and how an approximate 3-to-1 “positivity ratio” is a key tipping point to enable you to experience more positivity in your life
  • That your own sources of positivity are unique and how to tap into them
  • How to calculate your current positivity ratio, track it, and improve it

 With Positivity, you’ll learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others, and become the best version of yourself.

 Making Hope Happen
Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others, By Shane J. Lopez, PH.D. 
How do some people make good things happen and bounce back from setbacks? Why do they lead happier, healthier, more productive lives? It’s because they have hope—not because of luck, or intelligence, or money. So, what exactly is hope and how can you get it, too?

Using discoveries from the largest study of hopeful people ever conducted, world-renowned expert on the psychology of hope Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., reveals that hope is not just an emotion but an essential life tool. Hope is also a leading indicator of success in relationships, academics, career, and business. With Making Hope Happen you can measure your level of hope and learn how to create and share it.

In this newest evolution of positive psychology, Dr. Lopez provides strategies for building a high-hope mind-set and shares uplifting stories of real people—parents, educators, entrepreneurs, young and old people with health challenges, and civic leaders— who create hope and who change their own lives as well as their schools, workplaces, and communities.

Making Hope Happen is for people who believe that the future can be better than the past or the present and who are looking for a way to make it so. The message is clear: Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned. Hope is contagious.

Watch a conversation with Shane Lopez and Soaringwords’ Founder Lisa Buksbaum talking about how Hope is an active process that you can learn how to use to elevate your life … rather than just sitting around and passively wishing for things to happen.

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, By Tal Ben-Shahar
Can You Learn to Be Happy?
YES . . . according to the teacher of Harvard University’s most popular and life-changing course. One out of every five Harvard students has lined up to hear Tal Ben-Shahar’s insightful and inspiring lectures on that ever-elusive state: HAPPINESS.

Grounded in the revolutionary “positive psychology” movement, Ben-Shahar ingeniously combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice, and spiritual enlightenment. He weaves them together into a set of principles that you can apply to your daily life. Once you open your heart and mind to Happier ’s thoughts, you will feel more fulfilled, more connected . . . and, yes, HAPPIER.

 Stumbling on Happiness
Stumbling on Happiness, By Dan Gilbert
In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.

The How of Happiness
The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, By Sonja Lyubomirsky
You see here a different kind of happiness book. The How of Happiness is a comprehensive guide to understanding the elements of happiness based on years of groundbreaking scientific research. It is also a practical, empowering, and easy-to-follow workbook, incorporating happiness strategies, exercises in new ways of thinking, and quizzes for understanding our individuality. Dr. Lyubomirsky does all of this in an effort to help us realize our innate potential for joy and ways to sustain it in our lives. Drawing upon years of pioneering research with thousands of men and women, The How of Happiness is both a powerful contribution to the field of positive psychology and a gift to people who have sought to take their happiness into their own hands.

The Myths of Happiness
The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does, By Sonja Lyubomirsky
In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky isolates the major turning points of adult life, looking to both successes (marriage, children, wealth) and challenges (divorce, financial ruin, illness) to reveal that our misconceptions about the impact of such events is perhaps the greatest threat to our long-term well-being.

By unpacking these myths, you will be liberated from negative thoughts that make you think that everyone else is experiencing a different reality than you are.

Happiness-A History
Happiness: A History, 
By Darrin M. McMahon
Today, human beings tend to think of happiness as a natural right. But they haven’t always felt this way. For the ancient Greeks, happiness meant virtue. For the Romans, it implied prosperity and divine favor. For Christians, happiness was synonymous with God. Throughout history, happiness has been equated regularly with the highest human calling, the most perfect human state. Yet it’s only within the past two hundred years that human beings have begun to think of happiness as not just an earthly possibility but also as an earthly entitlement, even an obligation. In this sweeping new book, historian Darrin M. McMahon argues that our modern belief in happiness is the product of a dramatic revolution in human expectations carried out since the eighteenth century.

The Happiness Hypothesis
The Happiness Hypothesis, By Jonathan Haidt
Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres — philosophical wisdom and scientific research — delighting the reader with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why we have such difficulty controlling ourselves and sticking to our plans; and why no achievement brings lasting happiness. However, a few changes in your life can have profound effects, and why even confirmed atheists experience spiritual elevation. In a stunning final chapter, Haidt addresses the grand question “How can I live a meaningful life?” offering an original answer that draws on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science.

How to Be a Positive Leader
How to be a Positive Leader, 
By Jane Dutton
Corrosive work relationships are like black holes that swallow up energy that people need to do their jobs. In contrast, high-quality relationships generate and sustain energy, equipping people to do work and do it well.

Grounded in solid research, this book uses energy as a measurement to describe the power of positive and negative connections in people’s experience at work. Author Jane Dutton provides three pathways for turning negative connections into positive ones that create and sustain employee resilience and flexibility, facilitate the speed and quality of learning, and build individual commitment and cooperation.

Through compelling and illustrative stories, Energize Your Workplace offers managers, executives, and human resource professionals the resources they need to build high-quality connections in the workplace.

Watch a conversation with Jane Dutton and Soaringwords’ Founder Lisa Buksbaum talking about how High Quality Connections can infuse each day with meaning and well-being, even in the midst of serious illness and other setbacks. Learn how strangers and hospital employees, other patients and family members can provide High Quality Connections that last for a few seconds and have a lasting impact.

Give and Take
Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, 
By Adam M. Grant Ph.D.
For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate in the role of a “taker”, a “matcher”, or a “giver”. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Read here New York Times Magazine feature article on Adam Grant.

 A Primer in Positive Psychology
A Primer in Positive Psychology, By Christopher Peterson
Positive psychology is the scientific study of “what goes right in life,” from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is a newly launched approach within psychology that takes seriously the “examination of that which makes life most worth living.” Everyone’s life has peaks and valleys, and positive psychology does not deny the valleys.

This book is extremely user-friendly and used in most introductory courses on positive psychology at the University level. Dr. Peterson’s warmth and sense of humor radiate on every page. This is a terrific “starter-book” for an overview of the field.

Pursuing the Good Life
Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology, 
By Christopher Peterson
In Pursuing the Good Life, one of the founders of positive psychology, Christopher Peterson, offers one hundred bite-sized reflections exploring the many sides of this exciting new field. With the humor, warmth, and wisdom that made him an award-winning teacher, Peterson takes readers on a lively tour of “the sunny side of the psychological street.” What are the roles played by positive emotions and happiness, by strengths of character, by optimism, and by good relationships with others? How can we pursue “the good life” in families, workplaces, schools, and sports, no matter who we are or where we live? With titles such as “You May Now Kiss the Bride–And Would You Like Fries With That?” and “How Can You Tell If Someone from France is Happy?” Peterson good-humoredly explores these questions and many others, including such diverse topics as the difference between employment and work, the value of doing the right thing, and why books matter, among other subjects.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, By Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals both personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

The Resilience Factor
The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills For Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles, By Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté
The science in The Resilience Factor takes an extraordinary leap from the research introduced in the bestselling Learned Optimism a decade ago. Just as hundreds of thousands of people were transformed by “flexible optimism,” readers of this book will flourish, thanks to their enhanced ability to overcome obstacles of any kind. Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté are seasoned resilience coaches and, through practical methods and vivid anecdotes, they prove that resilience is not just an ability that we’re born with and need to survive, but a skill that anyone can learn and improve in order to thrive.

This book is overflowing with practical exercises for you to build your resilience and practice it with important people in your life.

Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, By Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff
This book is about savoring life—the capacity to attend to the joys, pleasures, and other positive feelings that we experience in our lives. The authors enhance our understanding of what savoring is and the conditions under which it occurs. Savoring provides a new theoretical model for conceptualizing and understanding the psychology of enjoyment and the processes through which people manage positive emotions. The authors review their quantitative research on savoring, as well as the research of others, and provide measurement instruments with scoring instructions for assessing and studying savoring.

The Science of Well Being
The Science of Well-Being, 
By Felicia Huppert, Nick Baylis, and Barry Keverne
How much do we know about what makes people thrive and societies flourish? While a vast body of research has been dedicated to understanding social problems and psychological disorders, we know remarkably little about the positive aspects of life, the things that make life worth living. This volume brings together the latest findings on the causes and consequences of human happiness and well-being. The book covers a wide variety of disciplines, encompassing evolutionary biology, positive psychology, economics and social science, neuroscience and peace studies. Contributors to the volume include some of the most distinguished scholars in the field: social scientist Robert Putnam, evolutionary psychiatrist Randolph Nesse, psychologist Howard Gardner, economist Robert Frank, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement Martin Seligman, and the economic psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.

Spiritual Evolution
Spiritual Evolution: How We Are Wired for Faith, Hope and Love, 
By George Vaillant
In our current era of holy terror and divisiveness and dogma between different religious factions, often “passionate faith” has come to seem like a present danger. Contemporary writers such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have been happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater and declare that the danger is in religion itself.

According to George E. Vaillant, M.D., “man is great.” In Spiritual Evolution, Dr. Vaillant lays out a brilliant defense not of organized religion but of man’s inherent spirituality. Our spirituality, he shows, resides in our uniquely human brain design and in our innate capacity for emotions like love, hope, joy, forgiveness, and compassion, which are selected for by evolution and located in a different part of the brain than dogmatic religious belief. Evolution has made us spiritual creatures over time, he argues, and we are destined to become even more so. Spiritual Evolution makes the scientific case for spirituality as a positive force in human evolution, and he predicts for our species an even more loving future.

Vaillant traces this positive force in three different kinds of “evolution”: the natural selection of genes over millennia, of course, but also the cultural evolution within recorded history of ideas about the value of human life, and the development of spirituality within the lifetime of each individual. For thirty-five years, Dr. Vaillant directed Harvard’s famous longitudinal study of adult development, which has followed hundreds of men over seven decades of life. The study has yielded important insights into human spirituality, and Dr. Vaillant has drawn on these and on a range of psychological research, behavioral studies, and neuroscience, and on history, anecdote, and quotation to produce a book that is at once a work of scientific argument and a lyrical meditation on what it means to be human.

Spiritual Evolution is a life’s work, and it will restore our belief in faith as an essential human striving.

Learned Optimism
Learned Optimism, 
By Martin E. P. Seligman
In this national bestseller, Martin E.P. Seligman shows you how to chart a new approach to living with “flexible optimism.”

The Optimistic Child
The Optimistic Child, 
By Martin E. P. Seligman
The Optimistic Child offers parents and teachers the tools developed in this study to teach children of all ages life skills that transform helplessness into mastery and bolster self-esteem.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 
By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The exhaustive case studies, controlled experiments and innumerable references to historical figures, philosophers and scientists through the ages prove Csikszentmihalyi’s point that flow is a singularly productive and desirable state.

Character Strengths and Virtues
Character Strengths and Virtues, By Christopher Peterson
The handbook of character strengths and virtues is the first progress report from a prestigious group of researchers who have undertaken the systematic classification and measurement of widely valued positive traits.

Before Happiness
Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, 
By Shawn Achor
In his international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard trained researcher Shawn Achor described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. This book is about what comes before both.  Because before we can be happy or successful, we need to first develop the ability to see that positive change is possible. Only once we learn to see the world through a more positive lens can we summon all our motivation, emotion, and intelligence to achieve our personal and professional goals.

The Happiness Advantage
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, By Shawn Achor
Our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. We believe that “If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds,” then happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe. In other words, it works!