Dr. Martin Seligman is one of the co-founders of the Positive Psychology movement. Positive psychology is the focus on strengths, virtues, and happiness rather than on pathology and ‘what is wrong’ with us. In this book, Dr. Seligman goes through some of the major findings from the research on happiness and how we can use these findings to grow, thrive, contribute to society, and be happier.
One key approach that Dr. Seligman proposes as a way to boost happiness is to identify and use your ‘signature strengths’. Signature strengths are the positive qualities (e.g., wisdom, courage, humanity) that best characterize you…that are most part of who you are. Dr. Seligman states that we are happiest when we live in such a way that allows us to regularly use our signature strengths.
Authentic Happiness is arguably the first book to examine the mechanisms by which mentally healthy people become happy, and how happy people become very happy. Dr. Seligman is considered to be the international leader of the Positive Psychology Movement. His first trade book, the international bestseller Learned Optimism, greatly influenced the way people thought about mental health by bringing the concepts of cognitive psychology to a mass audience. Authentic Happiness further develops the concepts first brought to the fore by Learned Optimism and it represents the first time any scientist has placed value in the study not only of mental illness, but of 'mental wellness'. It's not about curing one's ills, but about exercising one's strengths and virtues in order to achieve what Seligman terms 'authentic happiness'.