Every once in a while a book comes along that is both necessary and elegant. U Thrive: How To Succeed in College and Life is one of those books. It is, perhaps, the most inclusive guide to the known science of applied positive psychology, complete with concrete suggestions and activities for making changes for the better.
U Thrive is beautifully crafted and layered with research, a deep understanding of student’s lives, stories, and practical advice. With a superb blend of anecdotes, science, and direct application of the practices offered for students, it is both highly readable and entertaining. Well-researched positive psychology interventions are the foundation of the book, along with exercises in building resilience and practices known to increase well-being.
Authors Dan Lerner and Alan Schlechter are highly qualified to offer the tools every student needs to recover, cope, and thrive. As professors, they teach New York University’s largest course on the science of happiness. Their experience in teaching the course, deep understanding of the principles of positive psychology, and desire to create something useful for students are evident throughout.
Each chapter begins with a discussion of the chapter’s main principle—such as relationships or mindset—and illustrates the points made with stories and examples. At the closing of each chapter are “takeaways,” followed by concrete exercises to put the principles into practice.
The book includes a range of interventions from untangling thinking traps, to exercises in savoring. The authors’ approach draws heavily from the work of Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, who is often referred to as the father of positive psychology. However, the range of viewpoints and research perspectives offered makes U Thrive a highly practical and diverse guide of techniques and practices.
The book is broken up into four sections: Strive to Thrive, Opportunities (and Barriers) to Change, Student Bodies and Positively Excellent. Each section offers a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of how students can not only survive college, but flourish and thrive in it.
The examples are realistic, and the foundation upon which the suggestions are based is drawn from the several hundred research articles used to write the book.
This book can be read as thoroughly or as sparingly as the reader wants. For those just looking for quick answers about what to do in a given situation, the takeaways for the various topics at the end of chapters can be quickly and easily accessed. For those wanting a bit more on theory and research, the interventions in each chapter can be reviewed in depth. Readers whose interests are sufficiently piqued to explore the studies behind the reading can find more information online at www.uthrive.info.
The careful research, top notch writing, chapter content, and coaching for the use of applied techniques make this a perfect gift book for new or returning college students. It could also be used as supplemental reading for introductory psychology courses. Highly recommended.
U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life)
Dan Lerner and Alan Schlechter
Paperback, 304 Pages
Little, Brown and Company