Explaining Character Strengths to Children: Meet the Dynamos

One of the cornerstones of Positive Psychology is a scientifically validated set of 24 character strengths, first published in the tome Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by the late Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman himself. If you want to know what your top strengths are, you can take a free test offered by the VIA Institute on Character.

If you have children and are keen to discover their character strengths, you can find a free test adapted for children on Seligman´s website at the University of Pennsylvania. But how do you talk to your children about the results – or the value and use of character strengths in general?

One fantastic (but not completely free…) opportunity is offered by my fellow MAPP alum Renee Jain. Meet the Dynamos – via an amazing workbook! In the words of their creators:

Dynamos are tiny and powerful beings from the planet Dynamis. Each Dynamo comes into the universe possessing a unique Dynamic or character strength as well as a Supertool to amplify their strength. Children will enjoy learning about character strengths by getting to know the Dynamos and their Supertools.

Kids can read each story in this workbook and then decide which Dynamo (representing a character strength) could be used to effectively solve the problem presented. This workbook is ideal if you’re teaching character education at school or at home.

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12227661_10153619125437752_7503175795841036175_nFind and out about and purchase the workbook via GoZen!

Art: Contribute to Society by Inspiring People

Now, here’s a little inspirational post. Slightly off-topic, but not all that much. What you can see below is a piece of art created by University of Texas art student Jasmine Kay Uy. Sometimes, you just need to look around another corner to get the full picture. Beautiful – and very clever. Reminded me of the Holstee Manifesto that I posted quite a while ago. Share and enjoy!

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9 Ways to Learn. Which ones do you prefer? [Infographic]

This is another cool infographic by Anna Vital (featured her work on Mappalicious here, here, here, and here in the past. I definitely prefer No. 1 (doing), 2 (searching inside), and 5 (reading). How about you?

Share and enjoy! 

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10 Propositions regarding (Positive) Emotions, especially Happiness

Good_AdviceBy now, I have written +400 blog posts on Positive Psychology and given +30 talks and presentations for different audiences, mostly in the realm of business. While I receive a lot of positive feedback (referring to the PP content; I´m not talking about my presentation style here), quite obviously, I also get some pushback once in a while. Over time, I´ve come to notice that most of the counterarguments I hear are based on a rather small set of “shared (mis-)conceptions”. I guess, a lot of these arise over time due to the fact that – for the sake of brevity – speeches and news articles on Positive Psychology have to simplify and overgeneralize their messages in order to get their points across. In order to structure my own thoughts vis-à-vis this situation – but also for discussion – in the following, you´ll find…

10 Propositions regarding (Positive) Emotions, especially Happiness

1) I feel, therefore I am. Emotions are among the very few constants in life. Where´s the consciousness, there´s emotion. They may not always be strong, and we may not always be aware – but they are there.

2) All emotions are valid and adaptive, depending on context and dose.

3) In excess, every emotion can and probably will have detrimental side effects.

4) Different emotions will have different consequences (e.g., for our overall health or the perception of “meaning in life”), especially in high doses and in the long-term.

5) Feelings are contagious and therefore, (almost) always “social”: What we do unto ourselves, we do unto others (to some degree). With that, there comes a responsibility.

6) Happiness is mostly used as an umbrella term, it comes in many different forms and sizes (e.g. serenity, exhilaration, relaxation).

7) Feeling happy is not a (or the) goal in life itself, it’s a “positive side effect” of certain behavior patterns and thinking styles.

8) Feeling happy is not shallow. At least, it´s not shallower than experiencing sadness, anger, or any other kind of emotion.

9) Feeling mostly happy requires effort, at least more work than feeling mostly unhappy (especially with regard to people displaying certain unfavorable genetic predispositions).

10) We seldom feel pure emotions. In most situations, we have several feelings at the same time. Quite often, they display a somewhat antagonistic structure (e.g., experiencing a bittersweet moment; or feeling proud of having been humble).

 

Picture via Gratisography

Infographic: How to be Wise – as an Entrepreneur (and in Life)

This is another really cool infographic by Anna Vital of Funders and Founders. And I think the quotes she gathered do not only apply to the realm of entrepreneurship but getting sh.t done in general. When I look at that graphic (which means through the lens of Positive Psychology), I see insights on self-efficacy, self-concordance, grit and perseverance, and hope (theory).

Share and enjoy!

Wise_Vital

The surprising and simple Definition of Coaching

There are lots of definitions on coaching – what it is, and what is not. Most of them are rather long and circuitous. When I try to explain the process of coaching to my new clients, I oftentimes used this visual metaphor.

Coaching = Recognizing, understanding, and changing patterns.

What do you think?

Fabulous Infographic: Why People become Unhappy

This is yet another fantastic piece covering Positive Psychology by information designer Anna Vital (the other ones I published on Mappalicious can be found here and here). Share and enjoy!

Unhappy_Vital

Why it´s good to have Tea with your dead Aunt once in a while

In my late twenties and early thirties, I was really into Zen Buddhism. I took zazen meditation lessons (stopped it, I think it´s just not for me…), practiced martial arts, and read almost anything related I could get my hands on. I remember a story that was about conquering our fears, where a monk would lay his head inside a dragon´s open jaw – in order to rid himself of the fear of…well…dragons.

I deeply sympathize with this approach of “accepting what´s there” – it´s one of those crucial points where the more helpful spiritual and therapeutic traditions of East and West regularly meet and become friends (e.g., see Kristin Neff´s outline on self-compassion to get an idea for a more Western take on the concept).

I’ve got 99 problems and 93 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for absolutely no reason. (multiple attributions)

John_CageWhile writing this, I remember another sage basically taught me the same lesson almost a decade before my deep-dive into Buddhism. One of my all-time favorites on TV is Ally McBeal. Every other year or so, I start another binge-watching weekend. I still love the affectionately exaggerated characters, the idea of visually externalizing the protagonists´ feelings, and the fabulous blending of music with plot and personal development. Here´s the dialogue that came to my mind:

John: I used to have a hallucination where my dead aunt kept wanting to have tea with me. It went for two years before I finally stopped her.
Ally: How did you stop her?
John: I had tea with her.

Here´s to our dead aunts!