Martin Seligman Quotes

Who is Martin Seligman?

Martin Elias Peter Seligman is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books. He focuses on positive psychology and well-being.

Seligman wrote the books 'Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment', 'Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life' and 'Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being'.

Born August 12, 1942

Books by Martin Seligman


Best 85 Quotes by Martin Seligman | Page 1 of 3

“Flow occurs in your life when your highest skills are matched to challenges that quite exactly meet them.”

Martin Seligman

“I'm trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do.”

Martin Seligman

“If we just wanted positive emotions, our species would have died out a long time ago.”

Martin Seligman

“It's a matter of ABC: When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don't even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don't just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES.”

Martin Seligman

“On the relationship side, if you teach people to respond actively and constructively when someone they care about has a victory, it increases love and friendship and decreases the probability of depression.”

Martin Seligman

“Once a depressed person becomes active and hopeful, self-esteem always improves. Bolstering self-esteem without changing hopelessness, without changing passivity, accomplishes nothing.”

Martin Seligman

“One of the things psychologists used to say was that if you are depressed, anxious or angry, you couldn't be happy. Those were at opposite ends of a continuum. I believe that you can be suffering or have a mental illness and be happy - just not in the same moment that you're sad.”

Martin Seligman

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“Optimism generates hope.
Hope releases dreams.
Dreams set goals.
Enthusiasm follows.”

Martin Seligman

“Optimism is a tool with a certain clear set of benefits: it fights depression, it promotes achievement and produces better health.”

Martin Seligman

“Pleasure is the least consequential. Engagement and meaning are much more important.”

Martin Seligman

“Positive thinking is the notion that if you think good thoughts, things will work out well. Optimism is the feeling of thinking things will be well and be hopeful.”

Martin Seligman

“Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people.”

Martin Seligman

“Psychology is much bigger than just medicine, or fixing unhealthy things. It's about education, work, marriage - it's even about sports. What I want to do is see psychologists working to help people build strengths in all these domains.”

Martin Seligman

“Psychology should be just as concerned with building strength as with repairing damage.”

Martin Seligman

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“Reaching beyond where you are is really important.”

Martin Seligman

“Self-esteem cannot be directly injected. It needs to result from doing well, from being warranted.”

Martin Seligman

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“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”


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“Some find that very optimistic people have benign illusions about themselves. These people may think they have more control, or more skill, than they actually do. Others have found that optimistic people have a good handle on reality. The jury is still out.”

Martin Seligman

“Ten years ago, when I was on an airplane and I introduced myself to my seatmate, and told them I was a psychologist, they'd move away from me. And now when I tell people what I do, they move toward me.”

Martin Seligman

“The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life.”

Martin Seligman

“The clearer the rules and the limits enforced by parents, the higher the child's self-esteem. The more freedom the child had, the lower his self-esteem.”

Martin Seligman

“The drive to resist compulsion is more important in wild animals than sex, food, or water. The drive for competence or to resist compulsion is a drive to avoid helplessness.”

Martin Seligman

“The fundamentalist religions simply seem to offer more hope for a brighter future than do the more liberal, humanistic ones.”

Martin Seligman

“The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future.”

Martin Seligman

“There are physical characteristics which are inherited. These include things like good looks, high intelligence, physical coordination. These attributes contribute to success in life, and success in life is a determinant of optimism.”

Martin Seligman

“There is one aspect of happiness that's been well studied, and it's the notion of flow. Ask yourselves, when for you does time stop? When are you truly at home, wanting to be no place else?”

Martin Seligman

“We deprive our children, our charges, of persistence. What I am trying to say is that we need to fail, children need to fail, we need to feel sad, anxious and anguished. If we impulsively protect ourselves and our children, as the feel-good movement suggests, we deprive them of learning-persistence skills.”

Martin Seligman

“We're not prisoners of the past.”

Martin Seligman

“When an individual responds actively and constructively (as opposed to passively and destructively) to someone who is sharing a positive experience, love and friendship increase.”

Martin Seligman

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“When it comes to our health, there are essentially four things under our control: the decision not to smoke, a commitment to exercise, the quality of our diet, and our level of optimism. And optimism is at least as beneficial as the others.”

Martin Seligman

“When the individual has a lot of money to spend, individualism becomes a powerful and profitable worldview.”

Martin Seligman

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“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”


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