Tony Hsieh and Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology

Given the business case for happiness (positive psychology), various champions have emerged, including Tony Hsieh, Martin Seligman, and Shawn Achor among others.

In Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh advances a notion of happiness (positive psychology) that involves a Sense of Control, Sense of Progress, and Sense of Connectedness along with Purpose, Culture (Control, Progress, and Connectedness), and Profit.

In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman advances a model of positive psychology (happiness) that involves Positive Emotion (pleasant life), Engagement (good life), and Meaning/Purpose (meaningful life).

In Flourish, Martin Seligman advances a refined model of positive psychology (well-being) that involves Positive Emotion (pleasant life), Engagement (good life), and Meaning/Purpose (meaningful life), Accomplishment, and Positive Relationships.

Seligman also expresses his “rethinking” of happiness.

When I wrote Authentic Happiness a decade ago, I wanted to call it Positive Psychology, but the publisher thought that “happiness” in the title would sell more books.

I also dislike authentic, a close relative of the overused term self, in a world of overblown selves.

I actually detest the word happiness, which is so overused that it has become almost meaningless. It is an unworkable term for science, or for any practical goal such as education, therapy, public policy, or just changing your personal life.

The primary problem with that title and with “happiness” is not only that it under explains what we choose but that the modern ear immediately hears “happy” to mean buoyant mood, merriment, good cheer, and smiling.

Positive psychology, as I intended it, is about what we choose for its own sake.

Seligman summarizes that Authentic Happiness Theory focuses on Happiness, measured through life satisfaction, and with the overall goal to increase life satisfaction.

Seligman summarizes that Well-Being Theory focuses on well-being; measured through positive emotion, engagement, meaning/purpose, positive relationships, and accomplishment; and with the overall goal to increase flourishing by increasing positive emotion, engagement, meaning/purpose, positive relationships, and accomplishment.

Seligman references Felicia Huppert’s and Timothy So’s definition of flourishing: “to flourish, an individual must have all the ‘core features’ (positive emotions; engagement, interest; meaning, purpose) and three of the six ‘additional features’ (self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, self-determination, positive relationships).”

How do Hsieh’s and Seligman’s theories relate?

TonyHsieh-MartinSeligman-2013061500

  • Meaning and Purpose: Purpose (Hsieh) and meaning/purpose (Seligman) are well aligned.
  • Self-organization: A sense of control (Hsieh) fosters positive emotions (Seligman). Organizations commonly promote a sense of control by employing self-organizing groups or teams.
  • Feedback: Accomplishment (Seligman) fosters a sense of progress (Hsieh). Organizations commonly promote a sense of progress by providing groups or teams with feedback (from outside the groups or teams) regarding their progress (or lack thereof).
  • Collaboration: Positive relationships (Seligman) foster a sense of connectedness (Hsieh), and a sense of connectedness (Hsieh) fosters engagement (Seligman). Organizations commonly promote a sense of connectedness by empowering groups or teams to collaborate and co-create with other groups or teams.

Organizations commonly promote a sense of connectedness by empowering individuals to collaborate and co-create within groups or teams and by empowering groups or teams to collaborate and co-create with other groups or teams. By employing groups or teams, providing them with feedback, and empowering people to collaborate and co-create within groups or teams and with other groups or teams, why aren’t all such organizations successful?

Are organizations not employing teams, providing feedback, or empowering people? Are people not leveraging how they are being empowered? Is there not a way for organizations to transform from where they are to where they want to be? Or is something else missing!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Tony Hsieh and Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology

  1. Engagement is referring to “flow” (see Czikszentmihalyi) so it’s not really Connectedness which I would agree is linked to Positive Relationships. I’d also link Sense of Control (which I’m guessing is referring to something like sense of autonomy?) to Accomplishment. So Accomplishment comes from a Sense of Control and a Sense of Progress.

    • Agreed, Engagement is not Connectedness, but Connected fosters Engagement (or, through Connectedness, we experience Flow). Accomplishment does not necessarily foster Control (or, we can accomplish something “accidentally” without any control). The arrows do not indicate “comes from” but fostering.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s