Archives for Signature Strengths

Character Strengths

Strengths: Nature, Nurture, or Both?

It is probably not useful to ask the age-old question whether our core strengths of character are more a product of our genes or our environment. When it comes to our personality, the answer is almost always – “both are important.” And, some scientists believe that with the advancements in epigenetics and the study of the interaction of our gene and environment, that the nature/nurture question becomes rhetorical and fruitless, similar to the question: What contributes more to the area of a rectangle – the height or the width?

Instead of viewing which is “more,” we can attempt to learn from both sides and make this immediately practical.
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Character Strengths

From Self-Criticism to Self-Inquiry

Many times after a business or work meeting, especially those involving one-on-one interaction, I would leave the meeting and a voice in my head would say:

You should have said _____.
Why didn’t you bring up _____? Why did you hold back?
You could have been smoother when you were discussing ____.
The other person wasn’t receptive to my idea about ___. I should have explained it better.

And on and on my thinking would go.
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Character Strengths

Love and Mindfulness: A Virtuous Circle

Sometimes people in the world of strengths make this comment: “I already use my strengths. Why should I bother to use them more?” Here’s a story to explain why:

Last week, I sat down and watched my mother and my wife express love to my 2-month old son who had not yet expressed verbal coos. The love they expressed was so genuine and pure. Warmth and care radiated from them as they passed this warmth on to my...
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Character Strengths

Inspire Your Strengths (By Getting Rudely Interrupted)

I learned an important lesson about character strengths this week. I was reminded that one of the core messages about strengths is this: unleash who you are by emitting your strengths out into the world.

While watching free movies about people with developmental disabilities online, I came across a 2.5 minute video that floored me. It is a music video of the pop rock band, Rudely Interrupted, from Australia. The band formed out of a music therapy group, led by band manager, Rohan Brooks. The band, now wildly popular, tours Australia and several other countries.

Take a listen to some of their music here.

What is it that I find most inspiring?
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New Strategy: “From Mindless to Mindful”

First, select one of your “bad” habits or vices. Pick something you are struggling with or bothered by and that you do each day.

Then, consider one way you will bring greater mindfulness to the habit or vice and one way you will use one of your strengths with it.

Finally, apply the strength and mindfulness to your autopilot mind as you do the activity.

This exercise is called “From Mindless to Mindful”
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Character Strengths

12 Pathways To Combine Mindfulness and Strengths

When I am at play with my 2-year-old son, I realize how precious time is and so I attempt to be as present and mindful as possible in each activity. This mindfulness spurs my strength of curiosity as I await each word and reaction from him. Curiosity brings me to want to express other strengths such as humor/playfulness to make him laugh. Not wanting to overdo my goofy humor over and over, my mindfulness increases to tune in closely to him and the other possible character strengths that might benefit him, such as love as I provide him with positive feedback, teamwork as we work together on building blocks, or zest as we jump into an upbeat activity together.

Hence, round and round mindfulness and character strengths go – each influencing the other in a positive way. This is a virtuous circle.

Until recently, mindfulness and strengths have been treated as separate areas of practice and research. My argument is that these robust areas of well-being are inseparable.

What follows is my rationale for why it is beneficial to integrate these areas.
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Character Strengths

What is a Positive Relationship? 5 Tips from Before Midnight

Ever think about what happens after “happily ever after”? Do the characters at the end of movies live in some sort of eternal bliss and glee?

Of course not. But as viewers we don’t get to see what happens next in these formulaic Hollywood films. There are exceptions.

Enter Before Midnight, a new romance-drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and directed by auteur filmmaker, Richard Linklater. This is the third installment of films made about 10 years apart and follow two characters, Jesse and Celine, after their original chance encounter on a train heading to Vienna (see Before Sunrise and Before Sunset).

These films are known for engaging dialogue. Conversations that are “real,” poignant, and interesting. Characters share themselves, their ideas, and their opinions openly. They attack, praise, cajole, and surprise one another. We are carried through love and intimacy, thoughts about their relationship origins and life philosophies, the fruits and challenges of long-term commitment, and tense arguments.

Before Midnight is a quintessential “dialogue film.” This helps it be an outstanding “teacher” of positive relationships.
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