Martin Elias Peter Seligman is an American psychologist, educator, and the author of several self-help books. Born on August 12, 1942, Seligman did his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.

His theories on positive psychology and well-being have made him one of the leading psychologists around the world. Known as the father of positive psychology, his theory on learned helplessness is also quite popular among psychologists.

Seligman has authored several critically acclaimed books on positive psychology, which include The Optimistic Child, Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness, Flourish, and The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist Journey from Helplessness to Optimism.

Dr. Seligman is the Director of Cornell University’s Positive Psychology Center. He was elected the President of the American Psychological Association for 1998 and is the founding editor-in-chief of its electronic journal Prevention and Treatment.

He is married to Mandy McCarthy Seligman.


True to its title, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment is all about the various ways by which one can attain authentic happiness. The main focus of the book, however, is on positive psychology.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part I, Seligman introduces positive emotion and elaborates upon the three different types of positive emotions: past, present, and future. He differentiates them in contrast with traditional psychology by explaining how each of these emotions is independent of the other.

An excerpt from Martin Seligman's Authentic Happiness about positive emotions

In Part II, the author expounds the twenty-four universal strengths. This includes a test, which readers can take either online or offline, to identify their strengths and virtues. According to the author, one can experience gratification by exercising their positive points.

The final part of the book is about how one can use their strengths and virtues in their work life, romantic relationships, and parenting. It is only by improving the quality of your life, the author contends, that authentic happiness and gratification can be achieved.

Interestingly, each part comes with a few tests that can help the readers determine their ‘level’ of happiness and optimism.


Dr. Seligman’s book covers a topic that is essential for the mental well-being of every human being. Psychology is usually looked at as a complex subject. It is rarely discussed outside academic circles. However, through Authentic Happiness, the author has endeavored to familiarize everyone with this complex subject.

The tests included in different sections throughout the book make for a wonderful experience, besides offering the readers an insight into their own minds.

To his credit, Seligman has taken the extra effort to ensure that he does not bore the readers with overly technical terms. That said, for those who want to pursue a more in-depth study of the subject, the author has been considerate enough to include an extensive endnote.


While most shopping and literary websites classify Authentic Happiness as a self-help book, the several studies presented in the book make it a better candidate for the academic section. This, coupled with its somewhat technical subject matter, can deter some readers from reading the book to the end.


In your own life, you should take particular care with endings, for their color will forever tinge your memory of the entire relationship and your willingness to reenter it.

Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health.

Positive emotion can be about the past, the present, or the future. The positive emotions about the future include optimism, hope, faith, and trust. Those about the present include joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, ebullience, pleasure, and (most importantly) flow; these emotions are what most people usually mean when they casually – but much too narrowly – talk about “happiness”. The positive emotions about the past include satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity.


Ameya Score:

Authentic Happiness is a must-read for those who are looking for happiness and gratification, which are the twin goals of human life. This book is not a regular weekend read and requires a lot of dedication and concentration. That said, the effort is totally worth it.

…now that you’re here

As you might know, Ameya runs on a purely non-profit basis. With no tangible products on offer, advertisements and donations are our only two sources of keeping this blog up and running. You could convey your support to us with something as little as $5 - that's less than what an average Starbucks would cost!