“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms”. One UK study that Action for Happiness mentions, states that if you “bloom” (don’t worry, I won’t take the flower analogy any further!) then you will have more positive emotion, vitality and self-esteem.
In our second Happy Café for August 2107 we explored the value of using our strengths. For me, the idea of ‘strengths’ elicits thoughts of immovable, perfectible parts of ourselves. The 16 of us that had gathered this Wednesday, quickly agreed and that when we are honest with ourselves and in a philosophical mood, there are scratches and dents all over our strengths. Allowable downsides and maybe even real negatives to them. Persistence can become unthinking stubbornness, Optimism can become naivety.
So, instead of strengths, we explored our positive characteristics. Accepting that they may be imperfect and choosing instead to put our minds to the positive, capable, useful, attractive, impactful side of our characteristics.
Try this. Choose two people you admire – dead or alive. You don’t have to have met them. What positive characteristics do you think they have, that makes you admire them?
Take the same attitude to yourself. What positive characteristics do you have and how do you see them manifest themselves? When you put these characteristics into action, what impact do they have on your and others lives?
A lovely story was told at the Happy Café, about dealing with a difference of opinion at a Book Club meeting. We noticed that that person demonstrated characteristics of courage, thoughtfulness, patience, fairness, sensitivity and being true to values in how they dealt with the situation.
The research shows that if I demonstrate a positive characteristic daily, in different ways and for six months, I will be happier and less depressed. I know that I enjoy being kind to people I don’t know. Pick up their kids toy, smile just because, let someone in a traffic queue, that kind of thing. It makes me feel connected and brings me mini bursts of joy. I’m not sure I’ll make every day, as sometimes I’m grumpy and sometimes I’m shy, but I’d like to try. And the little ways I’m going to try out are…well, if we cross paths I really hope that you notice them…