Mindfulness & Character Strengths – A Practical Guide To Flourishing

Filed in The Reading Room by on November 5, 2013 0 Comments

By Ryan M. Niemiec 

Image of the front cover of Mindfulness & Character StrengthsMindfulness and strengths are two of my favourite things so I was delighted to discover this book by Ryan M. Niemiec which explores the synergy between the two and describes Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP).  It is an excellent book for anybody interested in mindfulness and the VIA character strengths but particularly practitioners and teachers who want to run their own MBSP classes.

The basic premise behind MBSP is that by integrating mindfulness with character strengths you can positively impact your health and well-being and experience better relationships with those around you.  The way this is done is by adopting “strong mindfulness” and “mindful strengths use,”

Strong mindfulness means that you enhance your mindfulness practice by connecting with your strengths.  So for example if you were on a walking meditation and one of your strengths was appreciation of beauty you may use this strength to notice all the beautiful things around you as you walk.  Alternatively if you are struggling to remain focused you can connect with your strength of self-regulation to bring you back to the present moment.

I find it helpful to think of my strengths as tools that I can call upon to support and develop my mindfulness practice in a way that suits me best.  For example, when I find my mind wandering during practice I use my curiosity strength to notice the fact that my mind has wandered and I say to myself something like, “how interesting” and then return to focusing on the breath. Sometimes I find sitting cross-legged focusing on my breath uncomfortable or painful and so I connect with my bravery strength as a way to enable me to stick with the practice until the bell goes.

Mindful strengths use is about becoming aware of how and when you are using your strengths and the results that you are getting so that you can understand how to use them to best effect.  As a strength’s practitioner I believe this is a really important skill to learn.  Most of my clients before we start working together have very little idea of what their strengths are and the few that do have not explored how they are using their strengths.  And yet you can’t take full advantage of your strengths unless you have explored them fully – awareness on its own is not enough.  So bringing mindfulness to your use of strengths increases or heightens your awareness of what you are doing and gives you the opportunity to make adjustments to improve performance.

So for example earlier this week it became crystal clear to me that I was overusing my love of learning and curiosity strengths and that I now had so much information to read / process / follow-up  that even if I did nothing else for the rest of the year I would never get through all the tasks I had set myself.  I actually sat there and roared with laughter as the absurdity of what I was trying to do occurred to me.  I was then able to use my character strengths of honesty and bravery to go through the list and strike off anything that wasn’t actually directly related to the goals that I am working towards.  My favourite words have become delete, delete, delete!

So I would heartily recommend this book.  It is extremely well written, very structured and is full of all the materials, lesson plans and guidance needed to run a course in MBSP and there is an accompanying cd.  However, be aware that it is meant for practitioners, the style is accessible enough for the general public but it is designed as a tool for practitioners who want to run their own courses.

Rating 5/5

Please shareShare on FacebookBuffer this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *