Breaking Murphy's Law

How Optimists Get What They Want from Life - and Pessimists Can Too

Suzanne C. Segerstrom

Paperbacke-bookprint + e-book
September 1, 2007
ISBN 9781593855925
Price: $14.95 $12.71
232 Pages
Size: 5½" x 8½"
Copyright Date: 2006
March 18, 2011
ePub ?
Price: $14.95 $12.71
232 Pages
Copyright Date: 2006
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub) ?
Price: $29.90 $16.45
232 Pages

Pollyannas take heart, pessimists take note: Recent studies on achievement and well-being show that optimistic behavior contributes to better physical health, greater resilience in the face of life’s twists and turns, and more satisfying relationships. As psychologists Suzanne Segerstrom reveals, optimists lay groundwork for the success they envision. While the rest of us worry whether our goals are attainable, those who practice optimism try to achieve theirs. Breaking Murphy’s Law shows you simple ways to develop the skills that natural-born optimists use to get what they want from life. Dr. Segerstrom helps you break free from the inertia of cynicism and self-doubt and encourages you to engage the world around you. “Doing optimism”—by getting involved, working hard, and enjoying your achievements—establishes a positive feedback loop that’s both personally transformative and self-perpetuating. This practical book imparts the lesson with a mix of humor and intelligence that will convince even the most hardened cynics that Murphy got it wrong.

“The book imparts the lessons of years of research on optimism with humor, thoughtfulness, and a convincing amount of evidence that is possible to break 'Murphy's Law' through optimistic expectations....Breaking Murphy's Law demonstrates that merely believing more positively will not lead to greater well-being and life satisfaction. Rather, success and happiness lie in the persistent motivational strategies that optimists adopt.”




“Segerstrom backs up her words with tons of scientific research...She lightens it with humor in unexpected places, and makes a compelling argument.”


“This is a knowledgeable and witty book that delivers the science of optimism in an informed and accessible manner. Dr. Segerstrom is a master of the area, combining expertise in mental health with sophisticated biological knowledge and the practical bent that makes the information useful for getting around the roadblocks of day-to-day life.”

—Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; author of Positive Illusions

Breaking Murphy's Law is a wonderful counterpoint to the many self-help books out there that emphasize trying to be happy. Dr. Segerstrom shows how the headlong pursuit of happiness can actually be self-defeating, while effective optimism—focusing on motivation and persistence—can lead both to good feelings and genuine success in life. A 'must read.'”

—Ed Diener, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; editor, Journal of Happiness Studies

“The message in this book contradicts many popular myths and is based on the scientific study of optimism. Dr. Segerstrom shows us ways to change our lives to become healthier and more fulfilled. In a world awash with misinformed pop psychology, this scientific recipe for the good life is a breath of fresh air.”

—Alan Carr, PhD, School of Psychology, University College Dublin, Ireland; author of Positive Psychology

“Suzanne Segerstrom is a rising star in the new science of positive psychology, and this book shows why. Written in very accessible and engaging prose, it integrates shrewd insights with the latest research findings on the healing power of optimism. Dr. Segerstrom gets to the bottom of optimism and demonstrates why it is good for our bodies and minds. Hard work, personal action, and positive outcomes: a science-based recipe for success.”

—Robert A. Emmons, PhD, coauthor of Words of Gratitude for Mind, Body, and Soul; Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

Table of Contents

Prologue: Stop Trying to Be So Happy

1. Glass Half Full, Glass Half Empty, or Glass That Needs to Be Washed?: The Optimistic Character

2. The Persistence Instinct: Optimists and Their Goals

3. Building (and Rebuilding) for the Future: Optimists and Their Resources

4. So Happy Together: Optimists and Their Relationships

5. Mixed Blessing: Optimists and Their Health

6. Everything Good, Especially the Bad: Optimists and Their Vulnerabilities

7. Is an Optimist Born or Made?: The Optimistic Character Revisited

8. Doing Optimism: Optimists, Pessimists, and Their Potential for Change

Epilogue: Confessions of a Reluctant Optimist

About the Author

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. She has conducted extensive research on the relationship between optimism and well-being. Dr. Segerstrom's work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Norman Cousins Program, and the Dana Foundation. She is also a winner of the prestigious Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, awarded in recognition of her work on optimism. She lives near Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and their dogs.