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Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman | 1:20:15


 Oh, O over over dinner. Uh, Richard persuaded me, uh, he and Mark had seen my PowerPoint deck and he said, oh, that's the same old tedious stuff that you already know about. So, uh, uh, Richard persuaded me to, uh, uh, Give you 10 minutes on what's, uh, uh, at the forefront of what we're thinking about these days.

So I'll do 10 minutes on something that none of you would've heard about before, and then I'll give you 50 minutes of the same old, tedious stuff you know about. Um, the, uh, the first is what Richard, uh, mentioned about, uh, uh, our species is not homo sapiens. We're not good at wisdom and knowledge. That's aspirational.

Uh, what we are good at, uniquely good at. And what you are all doing right now is you are taking what I'm saying in the present and you're running scenarios about the future with it. So, uh, uh, phenomenologically human beings, by and large are living in imagination about the future. They're constructing.

Possible futures and evaluating them. Uh, now while that seems very obvious, uh, can you hear me if I walk around? Am I still, um, uh, it's not at all obvious to psychologists. So psychology was, um, about the past and the present. So memory was about the past perception and motivation, or about the present. And somehow, for the last 120 years, psychology assumed that you could deduce the future from knowing about the past and the present form of hard determinism embodied in that.

But that's just not true. The program has been a colossal failure about predicting the future. Um, so in, in, in this book and in our thinking, we believe we need to start with the way human beings conceive and evaluate future. Uh, we metabolize the past and the present. It doesn't determine the future. And one of the startling ways that people found this out was, uh, trying to, in fm MRI studies trying to map the brain.

So you, you probably know there are at least a thousand FMRI studies in which you put people in the donut. And you, you want to know what part of the brain lights up when they're doing mental arithmetic or anagrams. Uh, you always have to run a control group though. Hmm. In the control group. You just say, oh, just lie there and don't do anything.

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