50 Inspirational Martin Seligman Quotes from Learned Optimism

Martin E. P. “Marty” Seligman is a self-help author, psychologist, and educator from the United States. His most popular book is “Learned Optimism”.


Best Martin Seligman Quotes


We’re not prisoners of the past. ~ Martin Seligman.


Positive, optimistic salespeople sell more than pessimistic sales people. ~ Martin Seligman.


Self-esteem cannot be directly injected. It needs to result from doing well, from being warranted. ~ Martin Seligman.

I believe that traditional wisdom is incomplete. ~ Martin Seligman.

If we just wanted positive emotions, our species would have died out a long time ago. ~ Martin Seligman.


Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure. I believe that optimistic explanatory style is the key to persistence. ~ Martin Seligman.

Psychology should be just as concerned with building strength as with repairing damage. ~ Martin Seligman.

Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope: Temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation. ~ Martin Seligman.

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.

Life satisfaction essentially measures cheerful moods, so it is not entitled to a central place in any theory that aims to be more than a happiology. ~ Martin Seligman.

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. ~ Martin Seligman.


You go into flow when your highest strengths are deployed to meet the highest challenges that come your way. ~ Martin Seligman.

What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish? How do we get from zero to plus five? ~ Martin Seligman.

Inspirational Martin Seligman Quotes

Not only do happy people endure pain better and take more health and safety precautions when threatened, but positive emotions undo negative emotions. ~ 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.

First, you learn to recognize the automatic thoughts flitting through your consciousness at the times you feel worst. ~ 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.


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.

Famous Martin Seligman Quotes

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.

Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals choose the way they think. ~ Martin Seligman.


Curing the negatives does not produce the positives. ~ Martin Seligman.

One of my signature strengths is the love of learning, and by teaching, I have built it into the fabric of my life. I try to do some of it every day. ~ Martin Seligman.

The optimistic style of explaining good events is the opposite of that used for bad events: It’s internal rather than external. ~ 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.

Popular Martin Seligman Quotes

By activating an expansive, tolerant, and creative mindset, positive feelings maximize the social, intellectual, and physical benefits that will accrue. ~ Martin Seligman.


Flow occurs in your life when your highest skills are matched to challenges that quite exactly meet them. ~ Martin Seligman.

On the other hand, permanent causes produce helplessness far into the future, and universal causes spread helplessness through all your endeavors. ~ Martin Seligman.

Well-being cannot exist just in your own head. Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment. ~ Martin Seligman.


Reaching beyond where you are is really important. ~ Martin Seligman.

The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future. ~ Martin Seligman.

Top Martin Seligman Quotes

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.

People who believe they cause good things tend to like themselves better than people who believe good things come from other people or circumstances. ~ Martin Seligman.


Life inflicts the same setbacks and tragedies on the optimist as on the pessimist, but the optimist weathers them better. ~ Martin Seligman.

Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter. ~ Martin Seligman.

Money, amazingly, is losing its power… Our economy is rapidly changing from a money economy to a satisfaction economy. ~ Martin Seligman.

To be a virtuous person is to display, by acts of will, all or at least most of the six ubiquitous virtues: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. ~ 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.


Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others. ~ Martin Seligman.

What determines how much time and deliberate practice a child is willing to devote to achievement? Nothing less than her character. ~ Martin Seligman.

Changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks that life deals all of us is the central skill of optimism. ~ Martin Seligman.

Martin Seligman Quotes on Psychology

The Fundamentalist Religions simply seem to offer more hope for a brighter future than do the more liberal, humanistic ones. ~ 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.


When well-being comes from engaging our strengths and virtues, our lives are imbued with authenticity. ~ Martin Seligman.

Psychology is much bigger than just medicine, or fixing unhealthy things. Its about education, work, marriage – its even about sports. What I want to do is see psychologists working to help people build strengths in all these domains. ~ Martin Seligman.

Just as the good life is something beyond the pleasant life, the meaningful life is beyond the good life. ~ Martin Seligman.

The good life is using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification. ~ Martin Seligman.

When we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day. ~ Martin Seligman.


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

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.

So these were the 50 quotes from Martin Seligman.

If these quotes and sayings connect with you, check out our other posts on Frederick Lenz quotes and Francis Chan quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar