So, if we are working to nudge and focus self-authoring it is worth us knowing what a good story might look like to the individual with whom we are working. This idea of good lives and good stories leans heavily into positive psychology and taking a solution focused approach.
In the words of its founder, Martin Seligman, positive psychology can be defined as the:
‘Scientific study of optimal human functioning [that] aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive’. (1)
In positive psychology there is a greater focus on what the features of thriving look like than there is on attributing blame for a situation. One of the most empowering aspects of a coaching approach is that we do not assume we know what is best for the person, indeed, we recognise that best for them is likely to mean something different to that which it means for us.
In the Good Lives Model, human dignity, human rights, and human agency are promoted through working with an individual to develop the primary goods which will help develop their good life story. Research by Ward, Brown, and Marshall (2) has highlighted eleven classes of primary goods:
- life (including healthy living and functioning)
- knowledge (how well informed one feels about things that are important to them)
- excellence in play (hobbies and recreational pursuits)
- excellence in work (including mastery experiences)
- excellence in agency (autonomy, power, and self-directedness)
- inner peace (freedom from emotional turmoil and stress)
- relatedness (including intimate, romantic, and familial relationships)
- community (connection to wider social groups)
- spirituality (in the broad sense of finding meaning and purpose in life)
- pleasure (feeling good in the here and now)
- creativity (expressing oneself through alternative forms).
These classes each have a different level of importance to each individual and relevance to the situation in which you might be working with them.