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Aristotle’s help with my solution focused training

I was reading a review by Julian Baggini of Oliver Burkeman’s new book on the negative path to happiness. Fascinating stuff (sounds like well worth reading). Apparently, the positive psychology chap, Martin Seligman, has ‘pretty much abandoned’ happiness, or using the word at least. Instead he has turned to ‘flourishing’, which was seen as the highest human good by Aristotle. Happiness is simply a side-effect, albeit a frequent one, of ‘the real goal, which is to live in accordance with our natures, doing the things we do best the best that we can do them’.

Well, I liked the sound of that, particularly as I was on the train on the way to Bath to deliver some solution focused training to education professionals, looking for some inspiration for a new exercise or two.

I combined Aristotle with a lovely and simple idea (the two are usually connected in my experience) of Annie O’Leary’s, her Keys to Cooperation Sequence when meeting a child for the first time: What do you enjoy? What are you good at? What does it take to be good at that? (you can find this in her chapter in the collection Solutions in Schools, edited by Yasmin Ajmal & Ioan Rees in 2001, published by BT Press).

Adding Aristotle I came up with –

Doing the things you do best the best you can do them

What things are you best at? What does it take to be good at them? ie what skills do you have to have? Pick one of those things – when will you next be doing it? … Suppose you find that you are doing it at your best – What would you notice about yourself? What else? +++++ Who else would notice? How? +++++

There you are – philosophy and solution-focused practice combined!

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