Sunday, July 09, 2006

Is Everybody Happy?

I'm reading the first MPOD book club selection, Authentic Happiness, this weekend. There are a ton of instruments associated with the book on Seligman's web site. I've taken five of the instruments, and they don't really tell me anything new about myself - I already knew I was on average a less happy person than my peers. If you haven't done a lot of personal introspection, these short tests might be fun and enlightening for you, though.

I also started Kegan and Lahey's How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work. It's difficult not to compare them, even though they deal with different topics. I'm enjoying the content and tone of the Kegan more than the Seligman. How the Way We Talk is a fantastic follow-on to Ken Gergen's An Invitation to Social Construction. Gergen invites us to consider social construction, and Kegan provides solid ideas for implementing it!

As I stated in an earlier post about this first selection of the MPOD book club, I'm not all that enthused about the topic. I had hoped for something a little more research or organization-oriented. In my thinking about the world, "happiness" isn't something that you (should) go chasing after directly - it should be something that emerges from the activities that you pursue for other reasons. So right off the bat I'm a little put off by the premise of attempting to be "happier." Further, this particular selection is about building an individual positive psychology, but (at least so far) does not reach out into increasing the positive psychology or happiness of organizations. It's all good, but given the limits on my time and attention, I'd rather be reading something more directly applicable to my chosen field at this moment.

Yesterday I finished the first chapter of the Kegan. It would be a great choice for an OD book club - there are exercises in talking and listening that are geared to transforming the language we use every day at work and discovering what might make things better. So far, I'm giving this particular book a rave.


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