Category Archives: Books

Authentic Happiness


It’s Martin Seligman again. I didn’t read every paragraph of the book, kind of picked and chose what I read. There are some interesting facts mentioned, such as a ranking of countries by how happy their citizens are (the happiest ones are not necessarily the most developed ones). China ranked fairly high. I bet that surprises lots of Americans.

A few points I’ve taken away from the book:

  • Social life is strongly correlated with happiness. All happy people have a rich and fulfilling social life.
  • Married people statistically are happier.
  • Higher percentage of religious people are happier than those religionless.
  • Money has little to do with a person’s happiness.
  • Use your signature strengths (there is a test for you to find out what they are), you will be happier because of that.

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Learned Optimism


Are you a pessimist? Is it better to be an optimist than a pessimist? Can you learn to become an optimist even if you are not one yet? These are some of the questions answered by this book, Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman, known as the father of Positive Psychology.

I find the book very interesting, but not “life changing” like some Amazon reviewer wrote. It contains a test that will tell you whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. In the end you will be able to understand your own explanatory style, i.e. how you tend to explain good and bad events. I found the exercise illuminating, and thought provoking. When you blame yourself for a project’s failure, are you being pessimistic, or responsible? Having done the test myself and had my husband do it, both of us Chinese, I’ve also come to a prediction that most highly educated Chinese people, especially people like us who majored in engineering, will probably test to be pessimist, like we both did. It’s a baseless speculation on my part, and won’t be proved unless all my Chinese friends go and take the test (by the way it’s available under Questionaires->Optimism at, free registration required). Well, it’s not entirely baseless, it has to do with how we were raised and taught, but I won’t elaborate further because if I do it will ruin the test for anyone who is interested in taking it.

The disputation techniques introduced in the later part of the book are interesting. I can see it being helpful to some extent but am not sure how effective it really can be in practice. Maybe I’m just hopelessly pessimistic and hard-headed. :-(

A Book Meme

A pleasant surprise for a sunny, nice weekend, my friend Museditions tagged me to do this book meme. The rules are very simple:

  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

I’m going to post the sentences first and see if you can guess what book it came from, then in the end I will post the book title. Ready? Let’s go.

The fifth sentence is:

“We are limited, but we can push back the borders of our limitations.”

And the next three sentences are:

“An understanding of the principle of our own growth enables us to search out correct principles with the confidence that the more we learn, the more clearly we can focus the lens through which we see the world.

The principles don’t change; our understanding of them does.

The wisdom and guidance that accompany principle-centered living come from correct maps, from the way things really are, have been, and will be.”

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Some great books I’ve read the last year or so

This is another list of mine that was on my Live Space. Since I already wrote it I shouldn’t leave it behind…

Life of PiHow far can faith and imagination take you…

The Kite Runner