Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Strengths and Occupying the Holiday Season.

"Endure" collage by Lani with help from FlyPaper

Sonja Lyubomirsky (Professor, University of California, Riverside) answered a question put to her by Amanda Horne on the Positive Psychology News Daily website, "How can I use my strengths this holiday season?"  Such a great question.  She said she would:

  • Focus less on materialistic goals (and, yes, I mean the buying and consuming of all those gifts, many of them useless) and more on intrinsic goals involving personal growth, connections with others, and contributing to family, community, and society
  • Live in the here-and-now — that is, focus on, enjoy, and savor the moment instead of dwelling on what work you’re missing or the chores you have to do tomorrow
  • Work on appreciating what you have, even if it’s not very much; this is extremely difficult to do and requires lots of practice
  • Set at least one new, intrinsic, important, and meaningful life goal and begin the first baby step towards it
  • When you find yourself ruminating about problems or comparing yourself to others, shift your mindset, and distract, distract, distract
  • Work out as much as you can, doing whatever physical activity that “fits” you best
Do you need a review of what the positive psychologists focus on as strengths to create your own list?  Here you go:

Under "Wisdom and Knowledge" positive psychologists place Curiosity, Love of Learning, Judgment, Ingenuity, Social Intelligence, and Perspective.  (Gosh, the holidays seem like a really great time to work on these!)

Under "Courage" they place Valor, Perseverance, and Integrity.  (These strength may come into play if you have some family  members who like to stir things up a bit.)

Under "Humanity and Love" they place Kindness and Loving.  (Since this is what the holidays are all about, maybe there would be lots of opportunity to practice these.)

Under "Justice" they place Citizenship, Fairness, and Leadership.

Under "Temperance" they place Self-control, Prudence, and Humility.  (My mother-in-law gave me some great advice about how to practice this particularly with rowdy holiday making family members who "like to stir things up."  She said just blend into the wood work, be a wall flower when it seems wise.  Good advice!)

Under "Transcendence" they place Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Spirituality, Forgiveness,  Humor, and Zest.  (Ah, now these strengths really speak to me about the holidays and end of year exploration.  Lots of  material here!)
So how will you be using your strengths this holiday season? Need more ideas? Check the Positive Psychology News Daily!

Want to learn more about your own strengths?  Then the VIA character strengths website would be for you!


Barbara Saint Jacques said...

Excellent and useful article. All helpful in coping and moving forward in a positive way. Thank you for posting.

Bill said...

My family doesn't celebrate Christmas, because all of the customs have been adopted from pagan religions, and have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus and the importance of his birth. But that isn't why I wanted to write. Your two posts are so spot on about how ridiculously materialistic the holidays have become. This year seems worse than ever. The camping out at night at stores and the dangerous stampeding into the stores just to buy materials things that people are under obligation to buy because it's expected of them is so unbelievable. Where's the love in that?