The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Learned Optimism

Learned optimismLearned Optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman isn't really homesteading-related. But I've found that mindset is very important in everything ranging from creating a microbusiness to keeping your garden weeded, So I'm going to regale you with highlights from this classic for the rest of the week.

First, though, I wanted to write a little about the book itself. Seligman is considered by many to be the father of positive psychology, and given some of the tripe that fills that field, I wasn't sure what to expect. Imagine my surprise to find that his book reads like a Lorenz- or Tinbergen-style popularization of years of intense scientific research. No woo-woo here!

In fact, the most common negative review of the book can be summed up as follows: too much data. So if you don't enjoy looking behind the curtain and seeing how science is done, you might want to skip the middle half of the book. On the other hand, the beginning and end should still be up most people's alleys. And, personally, I found the middle eminently readable...but I do have a background in science.

I should warn the potential reader about a couple of other problematic aspects as well. First of all, the book is nearly thirty years old at this point, so you might be left feeling like you need to delve into the recent literature for updates. (Not necessarily a problem, although a potential time sink.) More troubling, there are some animal experiments that will make the squeamish cringe (although I didn't find them nearly as bad as I'd thought they would be). So read at your own risk!

Okay, enough about the book itself. Tomorrow, I'll present the highlight of Seligman's research --- the finding that thought patterns developed as children will determine your future success, health, and more. And those patterns aren't set in stone --- you can change them if you're willing.



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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