Home All (Book review) Positive Motivation: A Six Week Course by Dr. Kennon Sheldon

(Book review) Positive Motivation: A Six Week Course by Dr. Kennon Sheldon

written by Sean Doyle 28 January 2010

Through speaking and writing, Sean Doyle, JD, MAPP '07, explores the poetry and science of well-being. Whether it's the work place, parenting, community, home, or hardship, Sean invites us to inject more hope, affection, and meaning into the world. Check out his chapbook, On Being Human. Another book is underway. Watch its progress and let publishers know you're interested via the book page on his website. Full bio. Sean's articles are here.

"Positive Motivation" book

Positive Motivation book

How do we choose our goals? How do we decide how to spend our time and energy and where to direct our attention? These are the topics covered in another workbook in Robert Biswas-Diener’s positive psychology workbook series, Positive Motivation: A Six Week Course by Dr. Kennon Sheldon.


Sometimes these goals and choices are natural and fulfilling. Other times they are not. We can’t always seem to stick to that diet or finish that novel we’d started. There are still other times that we find the stamina and courage to buckle down and meet our goals – only to discover that meeting them failed to bring the satisfaction that we had hoped.

By clearly stepping us through motivation theory and providing interactive and reflective exercises, Sheldon squarely addresses what is behind our choices of how to spend our time, energy and attention. Positive Motivation also offers the tools that enable us to reevaluate and assess our goals so that they might be both more achievable and more fulfilling.

Sheldon explains motivation theory through a Whether, What, Why, and How framework:

  • “Whether” a person is motivated in a particular domain;
  • “What” is the object of that motivation;
  • “Why” a person decides to participate in a particular activity, or pursue a particular goal; and
  • “How” to go about achieving the goal.

Kennon Sheldon

Kennon Sheldon

This structure takes the reader on a well organized and easy-to-follow tour of contemporary research in motivation including self-determination theory, the four basic “whys” of achievement behavior, the importance of self-concordant goals, the pros and cons of performance goals, and other important topics.

Sheldon’s examples are simple and clear. In each of the six chapters, Sheldon includes activities that make the material practical and personal. The reader is asked to identify his or her goals, analyze which ones worked best in the past, and examine the extent to which current goals are intrinsic and pursued for autonomous reasons. The reader is even guided to consider whether his or her goals can re-conceptualized so that they become more positive and fulfilling. This intimate approach not only engages the reader and aids in absorption of the material, but it also gives a real-time demonstration of positive motivational theory in action.

The Positive Motivation workbook is an excellent tool either for self-study, or as a practical supplement in a longer course on motivational theory, social psychology, or positive psychology.

Editor’s Note:
Other reviews of this series by PPND authors include:

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1 comment

Kathryn Britton 29 January 2010 - 7:59 am

Order in January, and profits go to help in Haiti!

Click on the link to learn more.


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