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More about Happiness

In researching the idea of happiness, I came across an article previously published in Psychology Today magazine entitled, "Positive Psychology Takes A New Look At Happiness", which begins with the observation that the original emphasis on positive psychology (referred to as PP 1.0) focused on happiness as the most important component of wellbeing. Okay-- so far, so good!

As it turns out, PP 1.0 (first articulated by the wonderfully bright and talented American psychologist, Martin Seligman) has been expanded upon (PP 2.0) by Irish psychologist Michael J. Hogan, such that the idea of personal happiness has been expanded to include a collective or collaborative dimension, in which larger social systems are understood to affect one's sense of personal wellbeing, or happiness.

What might that mean for the future of the legal profession? Well, Hogan posits that what he refers to as "sustainable wellbeing" will require us to work on a systems level, rather than a personal level-- where collective solidarity (i.e., community) replaces individual mastery. And therein lies the rub for lawyers, and the legal profession (as it currently exists).

Head-to-head conflict and the notion of "mastery" (somebody wins, and somebody loses) is baked into the legal process, and that's not likely to ever change. However, within one's own firm the work dynamic can (and should) be a lot different. The idea of collaboration-- as opposed to competition-- already exists, to a certain degree. Why not make it a 100%, fact of life, protocol in our law firms?

That very notion lies at the heart of the leadership training that is getting so much attention these days, and there is strong evidence
and psychological heft to support that notion. As stated in the above-referenced article (quoting Hogan): "This new view of positive psychology, with its emphasis on promoting system-level changes, requires that 'an innovative society capable of addressing shared problems requires an educated population who can collaborate, deliberate and learn together'".

Law firms have an "educated population", that certainly can "collaborate, deliberate and learn together".  Is there any reason they cannot also be work environments where people are happy? Sustainably happy?

The old adage teaches that, "two heads are better than one". To that adage, we might also now add-- and, happier!


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