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Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal in positive psychology?

Posted on: August 7, 2008

How do you explain the simultaneity principle of positive psychology?

Last week, I gave a talk on positive psychology to psychology students at the University of Buckingham. I structured the talk around the five principles of appreciative inquiry which I used to explore positive psychology and the poetry of David Whyte some months ago.

As I linked each principle to what we might do in our lives, when we coach others, and when we design organizations, I felt a little inadequate on the simultaneity principle.

How can we simply explain ideas of emergence and exploring one’s relationship with the world to beginners in our field?

Is curiosity the quality we are hoping to create in our approach to life?  Is curiosity a virtue to be engendered in organizations as part of job design?

Quite by chance, a s I was pondering practical explanations of the simultaneity principle, I had taken out of my village library Liz Jensen’s The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. The novel is billed as a psychological thriller, and I don’t want to spoil the read for you, so I will say no more about the plot.

The book ends though, with some fatherly advice to a son.

“It depends how curious you are about what comes next, he says. – There might be good things. You know, by the time I’d been stuck in that cave for three days, I wasn’t curious, I just wanted it to end. It’s different for you.

– The rest of life might suck too.

– It might, said Papa. – And it might not.”

. . . .

“And I know that one day, if I want to, I can do it. I can take one step forward. And then another”.

When I am coaching, when I am designing work and organizations, is my goal to create an environment, a platform and support for us to approach the world with curiosity?  Confident that I should approach the world with curiosity about what will happen next?  Good and bad?

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8 Responses to "Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal in positive psychology?"

[…] scholarship, positive psychology, simultaneity, The Economist | Yesterday, I posted on my difficulty explaining the simultaneity principle in positive organizational scholarship and extrapolating the implications for organizational […]

[…] Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal in positive psychology? […]

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