Tag Archives: Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman will be giving a lecture about his new book “Flourish” at the Royal Society of Arts in London (8 John Adam St, London, United Kingdom WC2N 6EZ) on 6th Jul 2011; 6PM GMT.

As you may expect, Martin Seligman’s lecture is fully booked. The good news is the event will be:
– streamed online: http://www.thersa.org/events/listen-live
– archived as mp3: http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events
– archived as podcast: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/rsa-events-audio/id303639958

More information are available on http://www.thersa.org/events/our-events/flourish

Happiness = Pleasure + flow + meaning

3.1 How to calculate it?
Martin Seligman, leading positive psychologists, offer a wealth of questionnaires in their books and websites, more information are provided in 3.3. Considering such questionnaires are self-calculated using their online version, here we just provide extremely simplified versions:

Happiness (Seligman) = Pleasure + flow + meaning

Simplified version = [(Hours spent doing pleasant activities) + (Hours spent in total immersion) + (Hours spent doing meaningful activities)] / Number of days considered

For simplicity, you can calculate this by adding the average amount of hours you spend in one day doing what brings you pleasure, what starts a flow and what really gives a meaning to your life.

For example: 30 minutes spent eating + 120 minutes spent speaking on the phone with clients + 60 minutes spent volunteering

Or you can have a more detailed view, for example by keeping a diary for one month where you write the way you allocate your time daily, and then divide it by the number of days in that month.

3.2 What does it mean?
Martin Seligman, thanks to four decades of research in the field, found there are three main pillars for happiness. Pleasure is the most commonly experienced, and also the least lasting; for example, the pleasure derived from eating an ice-cream, with declining marginal benefit derived from each bite. Flow is about total absorption in a specific task, which can be as short as writing an important email or as long as working on a book. Meaning is the life with a purpose which, for its own definition, is not happening often and is the longer lasting.

Another positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, offers an equation where Happiness = Genetic Set Point + Life Circumstances + Intentional Activities.

3.3 Where are references and further information?
About Martin Seligman’s research:



About Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research:


In Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, American psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman provides a user-friendly road map for human emotion. As reported by Publishers Weekly, the author of the bestselling Learned Optimism proposes ratcheting the field of psychology to a new level. “Relieving the states that make life miserable… has made building the states that make life worth living less of a priority. The time has finally arrived for a science that seeks to understand positive emotion, build strength and virtue, and provide guideposts for finding what Aristotle called the `good life,’ ” writes Seligman. Thankfully, his lengthy homage to happiness may actually live up to the ambitious promise of its subtitle. Martin E. P. Seligman doesn’t just preach the merits of happiness e.g., happy people are healthier, more productive and contentedly married than their unhappy counterparts. Trying to fix weaknesses won’t help, he says; rather, incorporating strengths such as humor, originality and generosity into everyday interactions with people is a better way to achieve happiness. Skeptics will wonder whether it’s possible to learn happiness from a book. Their point may be valid, but Seligman certainly provides the attitude adjustment and practical tools (including self-tests and exercises) for charting the course.

Other pubblications from Martin E. P. Seligman include:
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0752-7 (Paperback reprint edition, W.H. Freeman, 1992, ISBN 0-7167-2328-X)
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (1991). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-671-01911-2 (Paperback reprint edition, Penguin Books, 1998; reissue edition, Free Press, 1998)
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (1993). What You Can Change and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-679-41024-4 (Paperback reprint edition, Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-449-90971-9)
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (1996). The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience. New York: Houghton Mifflin. (Paperback edition, Harper Paperbacks, 1996, ISBN 0-06-097709-4)
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-2297-0 (Paperback edition, Free Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9)
– Seligman, Martin E. P. (2004). ‘”Can Happiness be Taught?”. Daedalus, Spring 2004.
– Peterson, Christopher, & Seligman, Martin E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 987-0-19-516701-6

Martin E. P. Seligman is the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Martin Seligman was the 13th most frequently cited psychologist in introductory psychology textbooks throughout the 20th century (source: Haggbloom et al.). In this Ted event, Martin Seligman talks about psychology. As it moves beyond a focus on disease, what can modern psychology help us to become?

From his presentation:” When I was president of the American Psychological Association they tried to media-train me, and an encounter I had with CNN summarizes what I’m going to be talking about today, which is the “11th reason to be optimistic.” The editor of Discover told us 10 of them, I’m going to give you the 11th.

So they came to me, CNN, and they said, “Professor Seligman, would you tell us about the state of psychology today? We’d like to interview you about that.” And I said, “Great.” And she said, “But this is CNN, so you only get a sound bite.” So I said, “Well, how many words do I get?” And she said, “Well, one.”


And cameras rolled, and she said, “Professor Seligman, what is the state of psychology today?” “Good.”


“Cut. Cut. That won’t do. We’d really better give you a longer sound bite.” “Well, how many words do I get this time?” “I think, well, you get two. Doctor Seligman, what is the state of psychology today?” “Not good.”


“Look, Doctor Seligman, we can see you’re really not comfortable in this medium. We’d better give you a real sound bite. This time you can have three words. Professor Seligman, what is the state of psychology today?” “Not good enough.”

And that’s what Martin Seligman talks about here.