Book Review – Flourish by Martin Seligman

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Book 12 for my #50BooksIn2016 challenge. Find out more about the challenge here.

 

Flourish was such a fascinating read. The idea of positive psychology – focusing on building the good, instead of eliminating the bad – really resonated with me. At a very basic level Seligman says that if you spend all your time trying to eliminate things like sadness, depression, and anger you end up empty, which is not any healthier than feeling sad, depressed or angry. So you should spend as much, if not more even, time building on the positive things – what is working well, what are you grateful for, increasing your self-discipline and self-determination. These are the things that will ultimately lead you to living a better, happier life.

The five main components of “flourishing” or what makes up well-being are 1) positive emotion, 2) engagement, 3) meaning, 4) positive relationships, 5) accomplishment

My favorite part had to do with increasing accomplishment or achievement in our lives. I don’t know what that says about me.  Seligman piggybacked on the work of Angela Duckwork, whose PhD work at Penn was focused on GRIT, the combination of very high persistence and high passion for an objective.

I watched a TED talk recently from Duckworth on this topic, so getting into more detail of the research and theory behind it was incredibly interesting.

The TED talk is here. You should watch it. (But after you finish reading this.)

The underlying theory of achievement Duckworth proposed is this:

Achievement = skills X effort

Skills are made up of the cognitive process of automatic knowledge, heavy cognitive thinking about planning, refining, error checking and creativity, and how quickly you can learn new material to make it automatic.

Effort is just how much time you spend on something. And the biggest factor of that is the character traits of self-discipline and GRIT.

Those two character traits are really the only things you have a significant amount of control over when it comes to the formula for achievement.

So if I want to build Prodigy & Co to a massive success and help people change the world, I need to work on my GRIT – and help my clients with their GRIT.

But it also tells me that is what students and kids need to help them become their best selves, and the sooner we can help them increase their GRIT, the better off they will be. (Exciting news on this front coming soon!!)

I can’t wait to see Duckworth’s research on what you can do to actually increase GRIT. She has a book coming out May 3 that I have already pre-ordered.

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Let me know what you think about the achievement formula and GRIT. I’d love to hear from you.

 

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