Once upon a time, someone instructed me to read a book called Feelings. Or Emotions. Something catchy like that. The book was a catalog of some fifty or so emotional markers, like happy, sad, angry, afraid—and a host of labels in between, like shocked, hopeful, enraged, bored—because it seemed to this person that my emotional literacy could use a little expansion. Were you to ask, “How are you feeling?” I was likely to say, “Fine.”
Fine, as it turns out, did not appear in any of the chapters of that book. It also does not appear in any of the chapters of Dacher Keltner’s book Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. In this fascinating volume, Keltner explores not the full scope of emotions across the spectrum, as did my little pocket catalog I could whip out and browse whenever someone asked how I was feeling (there should be an app for that), but a range of positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, and awe. And his focus is not the mere identification of feelings, but a rich investigation of how these emotions define our humanity and contribute to our common good.
Keltner, through study of science and particular philosophies, finds that positive emotions “lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior—and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better.”
Join us for a brand new book club beginning January 10 where we’ll be discussion Keltner’s book over a three-week series.
Our reading schedule:
January 10: Chapters 1-4: Jen Science, Darwin’s Joys, Rational Irrationality & Survival of the Kindest
January 17: Chapters 5-8: Embarrassment, Smile, Laughter, Tease
January 24: Chapters 9-12: Touch, Love, Compassion, Awe
Read the first chapter of Born to be Good
Buy Born to Be Good
Photo by Chris J. McQueen, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by LW Lindquist.