Golden Nuggets to Reach the Golden Mean

By Ruth Pearce

For over a year, VIA hosted the United In Strengths live sessions each Monday. In these sessions Ryan Niemiec and Ruth Pearce explored the wonders of mindfulness and character strengths. We considered how to achieve the Golden Mean – just enough but not too much, just enough but not too little – of our strengths, and how to develop our awareness, appreciation and application of not just our own character strengths but those of others!

The really special moments came when the participants shared their feedback on a question, theory or practice. We hosted "Community Asks", a session when attendees got to ask us and each other about things they want to know – about character strengths.

One session, in particular, was full of golden nuggets!

A group of attendees shared their experiences managing their top strength of humor – a blessing at the right time (the secret of humor is… timing!) and a challenge when it seems inappropriate to others. What do you do if you are in a group where it feels that you are the only person with humor as a high strength? How do you avoid upsetting people without meaning to?

Here are some of the golden nuggets offered to balance humor:

  1. Take a deep breath before saying anything and ask, “how will this comment be helpful now?”
  2. Consider a different perspective – “what happens if this is not funny to others?”
  3. Use a little judgment – “how will humor help in this moment?”

Another great question from the participants was “how do I make sure that I remember to use my top strengths even in difficult situations?”

The top 5 golden nuggets were:

  1. Like mindfulness, it is important to practice using them in “ideal conditions” so that when the going gets tough our strengths automatically show up for us.
  2. Use your top 5/full ranking of character strengths as a reminder – stick it on the wall in the bathroom, in front of your computer, on the fridge – anywhere that you will see it and can use it as a reminder.
  3. Associate your top strengths with objects or colors – for example red or a heart shape means LOVE.
  4. Wear a wrist band for each strength that you want to focus on.
  5. Habit stack – make a plan to combine a strength with a regular activity such as cleaning your teeth.

What else can you think of?

Here are some sentence completion prompts to get you started:

Prompt:

Today I will focus on my character strength of _______ whenever I see/do/hear _______ by _______.

Example from Ruth:

Today I will focus on my character strength of gratitude whenever I see my husband by giving him some specific positive feedback about his character strengths.

And below is a reflection sentence completion for the end of the day:

Reflection:

Today I used my character strength of _______ when I _______ and this is what happened - _______.

Example from Ruth:

Today I used my character strength of gratitude when I told my husband how much I appreciate his perseverance in finding us a location to move to that we will both love and this is what happened – my husband smiled shyly and gave me a hug.

Try it and let us know what you discover!

References

Prompts are based on the work by Nathaniel Branden.

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