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The Positive Psychology Center provides syllabi from professors of psychology, to help teachers of Positive Psychology courses.

Popular Books

by Martin E. P. Seligman

One of the most influential living psychologists looks at the history of his life and discipline, and paints a much brighter future for everyone.

When Martin E. P. Seligman first encountered psychology in the 1960s, the field was devoted to eliminating misery: it was the science of how past trauma creates present symptoms. Today, thanks in large part to Seligman's Positive Psychology movement, it is ever more focused not on what cripples life, but on what makes life worth living--with profound consequences for our mental health.
In this wise and eloquent memoir, spanning the most transformative years in the history of modern psychology, Seligman recounts how he learned to study optimism--including a life-changing conversation with his five-year-old daughter. He tells the human stories behind some of his major findings, like CAVE, an analytical tool that predicts election outcomes (with shocking accuracy) based on the language used in campaign speeches, the international spread of Positive Education, the launch of the US Army's huge resilience program, and the canonical studies that birthed the theory of learned helplessness--which he now reveals was incorrect. And he writes at length for the first time about his own battles with depression at a young age.
In The Hope Circuit, Seligman makes a compelling and deeply personal case for the importance of virtues like hope, gratitude, and wisdom for our mental health. You will walk away from this book not just educated but deeply enriched. 

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski MAPP and James O. Pawelski PhD

How do you get to “happily ever after?

In fairy tales, lasting love just happens. But in real life, healthy habits are what build happiness over the long haul. Happy Together, written by positive psychology experts and husband-and-wife team Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski, is the first book on using the principles of positive psychology to create thriving romantic relationships. Combining extensive scientific research and real-life examples, this book will help you find and feed the good in yourself and your partner. You will learn to develop key habits for building and sustaining long-term love by:

  • Promoting a healthy passion
  • Prioritizing positive emotions
  • Mindfully savoring experiences together
  • Seeking out strengths in each other

Through easy-to-follow methods and fun exercises, you’ll learn to strengthen your partnership, whether you’re looking to start a relationship off on the right foot, weather difficult times, reignite passion, or transform a good marriage into a great one.

By Angela Duckworth

In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Dr. Angela Duckworth shows parents, students, educators, athletes, and business people that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls "grit."

The Seligman Times

Post-Election Optimism
There were only glum faces around our Thanksgiving table this year. Hillary Clinton supporters all, my kids and their mates saw nothing to be thankful for. The specter of Donald Trump ascending to the most powerful position in the world cast a pall over the day and my kids—ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-seven—said with one voice that they had nothing to be optimistic about.
But I disagreed and I said so.
You likely feel the same way as my children, so let me start with a quiz:
    Is the world getting better or worse?
    Better        Worse      Not Changing      Don’t Know
    In the last thirty years has world poverty
    Halved      Doubled     Not Changed    Don’t Know


Continue Reading:

The Seligman Times



By Martin Seligman

When I started in 2002, I intended it to publicize my book, Authentic Happiness. I also wanted to let you take the tests--at no cost--that are the basis of the book and of Positive Psychology.

I was surprised by how popular this website became: Almost four and a half million people have registered here and taken the tests as of today. About two thousand new people register every day and this usage has been steady for years.

I was just as surprised by how popular Positive Psychology became, both in academia and with the public. There are now courses in most universities around the world and hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants and contracts. There are at least twenty national associations, the foremost being IPPA, Thousands of practitioners and scientists now call themselves “Positive Psychologists.” I number myself among them.

I find myself at the center of all these cross-currents. New articles, new books, new discoveries, new websites, new popular press, and fascinating new people and their projects, come my way almost daily. There are even whole new fields--Positive Education, Positive Neuroscience, Positive Health, Positive Humanities, Positive Theology, Prospective Psychology, and Positive Psychiatry.

So the time has come to expand and liven up this website by writing about the news in Positive Psychology and its allied fields. I call this section The Seligman Times, because I intend—at least at the outset—to write about the stuff that I personally fancy.

I will also do book reviews, movie reviews, and editorialize about current events. I will start by reporting new developments and musing about them, but I intend my role ultimately to evolve into “managing editor” and I will soon entertain submissions.

    So watch this space.

Scholarly Publications

Psychological well-being of young people is a significant public health issue because adolescents who need help often do not seek it, leading to a high prevalence of mental health problems in this population. Youth programs aimed at preventing mental health problems have tended to rely on clinical treatments, with inconsistent results. This study explores the feasibility of an online positive psychology program to improve well-being and mental health outcomes of Australian youth. Results showed that participants in the online intervention who visited the site at least 3 times per week reported significant decreases in depression and anxiety and improvements in well-being.

Citation: Manicavasagar, V., Horswood, D., Burckhardt, R., Lum, A., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., & Parker, G. (2014). Feasibility and effectiveness of a web-based positive psychology program for youth mental health: randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(6)

The sense that life has meaning and direction is associated with reduced risks of adverse health. This study tested the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with lower risk of cerebral infarcts, a type of stroke caused by blockage in a blood vessel to the brain. Results showed that greater purpose in life was associated with lower odds of having more macroscopic infarcts (brain injury visible to the naked eye on autopsy). Results did not find association with microinfarcts (brain injury visible only with a microscope).

Citation: Yu, L., Boyle, P. A., Wilson, R. S., Levine, S. R., Schneider, J. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2015). Purpose in Life and Cerebral Infarcts in Community-Dwelling Older People. Stroke, 46(4), 1071-1076.

Few controlled trials have evaluated mindfulness-based approaches to enhancing mental health among young people. This study assesses the acceptability and efficacy of a school-based universal mindfulness intervention for youth aged 12-16. Control groups took part in the usual school curriculum. Results showed that children participating in the Mindfulness in Schools Program reported fewer depressive symptoms post-treatment and at follow-up. Students also reported lower stress and greater well-being at follow-up. The paper suggests potential directions, such as whether school-wide mindfulness training at a key developmental stage could be more effective than interventions for at-risk youth or those who already have developed mental health problems.

Citation : Source: Kuyken, W., Weare, K., Ukoumunne, O., Vicary, R., Motton, N., Burnett, R., Cullen, C., Hennelly, S., & Huppert, F. (2013). Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Program: Non-randomized controlled feasibility study. The British Journal of Psychiatry 203(2), 1-6.

doi: 10.1192/bjp.113.126649