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Practice of Learned Optimism

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Saved by Kathee Rose
on January 19, 2012 at 4:59:45 pm


We invite you to participate as a researcher for finding and adding resources on transformational change.   This is a dynamic tool for you to add information you find to your HS 301 individual group's wiki as you do research for class projects (click on the "Sidebar" located on the right in the "View" mode--select the appropriate Class Wiki).  We encourage you to share not only titles (for example, the citation of a journal article, a book, a blog, or title of a digital media stream), but also the places you found the resources and the search strategies you found useful, as we have in the links below. Students will post to the topic areas on the sidebar located on the right.


Required Assignment Materials:


Measuring the Immeasurable: The Scientific Case for Spirituality. (2008). Boulder, CO: Sounds True Publishers.  Read the following:

Segerstrom, S. C.  Doing Optimism: Optimists, Pessimists, and Their Potential for Change, pp. 101-119.

Hanson, R.  Seven Facts About the Brain that Incline the Mind to Joy, pp. 269-286.


Tennen, H. & Affleck, G. (1987). The Costs and Benefits of Optimistic Explanations and Dispositional Optismism. Journal of Personality, 55 (2).

cost benefit optimism article peer reviewed.pdf


Learned Optimism Test Adapted from Learned Optimism by Seligman, M.( Retrieved March 10, 2009).  http://www.stanford.edu/class/msande271/onlinetools/LearnedOpt.html 


HardTalk with Dr. Martin Seligman (December 19, 2007).  Watch this video posted to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRdqR6d-wCU 


Supplementary Resource Materials:




Peer Reviewed: 


 Kelley, T. M. (2004). Positive Psychology and Adolescent Mental Health: False Promise or True Breakthrough?,  Adolescence, 39 (154), 257-278. Abstract: The emerging field of positive psychology has pledged to improve the mental health of American adolescents. Yet, without a principle-based conceptual foundation to guide its study of optimal youth functioning, positive psychology will ultimately fail to keep its promise. This paper suggests that the principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness can provide positive psychology with a clearer understanding of optimal psychological functioning, serve as a unifying conceptual framework to guide its proposed mission, and lead to a true breakthrough in adolescent mental health. It first describes how the logic of these principles accounts for all subjective human experience. It then demonstrates how optimal mental health is generated, and how it can be maintained irrespective of present or past circumstances. Finally, it discusses how several contemporary models of positive psychology (i.e., Csikszentmihalyi's flow. Seligman's learned optimism, Goleman's emotional intelligence, and Buss's evolutionary perspective) can be simplified and clarified using the logic of the above three principles. To read the full text, click on the PDF link on this page.


Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13 (4), 249-276. Abstract: After a brief discussion of emotion- and cognition-based theories of hope, a cognitive model of hope known as Hope Theory is described. This model contains two necessary and interactive components--pathways and agency thinking. In this regard, we define hope as the perceived capacity to produce pathways to desired goals (this is called pathways thinking), along with the motivation to begin and continue the use of those pathways (this is called agency thinking). We explore the history of events and people who impacted the evolution of Hope Theory. Moreover, the proposed operations of these pathways and agency cognitive components are detailed. Additionally, we discuss the processes whereby children develop pathways and agency thinking in their first two years of life. Furthermore, we examine how people evaluate the value of potential goals, along with the role of blockage to the pursuit of goals. When impeded, people are posited to conceive of alternate routes to their goals. Likewise, should given goal pursuits appear to be permanently blocked, people may at times conjure other goals that may serve as substitutes. Perceived success in goal pursuits is posited to cause people to experience positive emotions, whereas perceived lack of success in goal pursuits would cause negative emotions. As such, hopeful cognitions are the underlying causes of emotions. To read the full text click on the PDF link on this page.Miller, A. (2008). A critique of positive psychology or "the new science of happiness'. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42(3-4).critique of positive psych.pdf Seligman, M. (2000). Optimism, pessimism, and mortality (Editorial). The Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 75(2), 113-134.seligman editorial.pdf Grandy, J. (2009). Psychometric properties and analysis of the AQ Profile. Peak Learning.PEAK_AQP_technicalSupplement.pdf



Seligman, M. (1998). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Pocket Books. 


Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (book overview).

Learned Optimism book overview.docx  


Electronic Books from Cline Library:


The extraordinary healing power of ordinary things : fourteen natural steps to health and happiness.  Larry Dossey. New York : Harmony Books, c2006. Chapters: Introduction -- Optimism -- Forgetting -- Novelty -- Tears -- Dirt -- Music -- Risk -- Plants -- Bugs -- Unhappiness -- Nothing -- Voices -- Mystery -- Miracles -- Notes -- Index. Access ebook.


Happiness: essential mindfulness practices.  Thich Nhat Hanh. Note: "Material for the practices in this book comes from How to Enjoy Your Stay in Plum Village, Chanting from the Heart, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment, and The World We Have, all published by Parallax Press, and unpublished dharma talks by Thich Nhat Hanh." Access ebook.




Video Stream Available from Cline Library:


Accentuate the Positive: Using Positive Psychology in the Classroom. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2010. 55  min. View streaming video. Summary: Students at Geelong Grammar School are undergoing the first year of a new, and controversial, experiment in education. Positive Education, a program developed by psychologist Martin Seligman, is designed to help children cultivate ways of becoming happier, more resilient people. But can optimism be learned in the same way that reading, writing, and arithmetic can? This video captures the range of events and emotions that the Australian teens work through, including bullying and self-esteem issues, as they attempt to employ Positive Education techniques. Additional insights are provided by the teaching staff, who are also grappling with this new way of learning.


Don't look back. PBS, 2009. 30 min. View streaming video. Summary: For some people, viewing life as an endless chain of possibilities just comes naturally. These folks tend to remain happy and optimistic in old age. Others have to struggle to stay positive and, in their advanced years, are more likely to succumb to depression and stagnation-even if they're in good physical health. This program features guest panelists who, perhaps because of their careers as writers and storytellers, have been able to approach aging as a new arena in which to create and prosper. They include Frank McCourt, a former schoolteacher turned bestselling author (Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man); award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni, author of On My Journey Now and Acolytes; and producer and comedy writer Larry Gelbart, whose credits include M*A*S*H and Tootsie.


How to be happy: positive psychology in action.   Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 2008. 44 min. View streaming video. Summary: This program illustrates the application of positive psychology through a powerful workshop in which participants increase their awareness of what creates happiness by performing acts of indulgence, altruism, and gratitude. How to Be Happy also considers whether wealth, friendship, religion, job satisfaction, raising children, and getting older typically do or don't promote happiness. An fMRI study on the effect of deep meditation on the brain, a segment on laughter yoga, and a case study of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a very successful company whose management style is firmly based on the principles of positive psychology, round out the program.


Public Doman video:


Adventures of an Incurable Optimist - Michael J Fox.  (May 9, 2009)    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=May5B0melb4

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