The Heart of Humanity

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, we began to look at each core virtue category of the VIA in succession. We started with Wisdom or the acquisition and use of knowledge (1). The VIA classification identifies Love of Learning, Perspective, Judgment, Creativity, and Curiosity as potential pathways to Wisdom. I hope you found the descriptions of each of these strengths, along with their mottos, and action opportunities helpful. 

Did you take my invitation to examine the strengths of wisdom in you own life and choose a personal pathway to develop? If you took my invitation, what did you learn? Did you find using your strength of wisdom energizing? 

This week, I want to explore the core virtue of Humanity or the character strengths of caring. These character strengths tend to manifest in our personal relationships with others. These strengths represent our pathways to ‘tend and befriend’ and are typically utilized in one-on-one relationships (1).

The VIA identifies three potential pathways to Humanity: Love, Kindness, and Social Intelligence. So, let’s dive in and discover your personal pathway to Humanity! 

Love can take many forms (2). Having Love as a character strength means that you value relationships with others, and in particular, those relationships where their is mutual closeness. Love is not just about your capacity to show love. It is also about your ability to receive love. While many people immediately think of romantic love when they hear about this strength, there are actually four types of love that have a biological and evolutionary base: Attachment love or the love between a parent and a child; Compassionate/altruistic love which looks like kindness; Companionate love or friendship, and Romantic love with a spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/ significant other (1). If Love feels like a personal strength, you may enjoy recognizing and showing appreciation for your loved one’s strengths, consciously reconnecting at the end of each day with your loved one, showing affection by giving extra hugs or cuddles to someone you love, or designing a special outing for someone you love? We all feel love differently. So, whatever you choose, listen warmly and think about what your loved one would enjoy to build your Love.

Love’s Motto: Be a warm and strong listener.

Do you believe that others are worthy of attention and admiration for their own sake? If so, Kindness may be your pathway to Humanity. Kindness does not arise from a sense of duty or obligation. Kind individuals genuinely enjoy doing favors for others even if they don’t know them well (1). They are generous in thought, word, and deed. Kind folks tend towards altruistic personalities. They feel empathy and show sympathy readily, and tend to have strong moral reasoning and social responsibility. At it’s best, Kindness is directed towards others and to yourself. If Kindness feels like your personal pathway to Humanity, perhaps you would enjoy doing three small random acts of kindness this week, taking the time out of your day to help the next person you see who is in need, making a point to use kinder, softer words in your emails this week, or donating blood? Remember, Kindness is a gift that has no expectation in return.

Kindness’ Motto: Be helpful, err toward caring. 

Socially Intelligent folks understand what makes people tick and tend to be good at taking someone else’s perspective. If Social Intelligence is a strength of yours, you are aware of the motives and feelings of others, you know how to put folks at ease, and are able to fit into most social situations (1). Social Intelligence is not just the awareness of what we sense about others, it is also our ability to act on that awareness in order to build social connection. If Social Intelligence is your personal pathway to Humanity, perhaps you would like to withhold a decisive conversation where you might win the argument but hurt someone in the process? Or, the next time someone offends you, you might like to take a moment to find a reason for their action and see the situation from their perspective? You could also use your Social Intelligence to actively and empathetically listen to a friend in a moment of distress and then reflect on your feelings? 

Social Intelligence.png

Social Intelligence’s Motto: Be friendly.

What resonates with you? This week, I invited you to identify your personal pathway to the virtue of Humanity. Choose one of the above character strengths that feels both authentic and energizing to you to develop your core virtue of humanity. Then act on it! Take one of my suggestions or come up with a way to engage your chosen character strength on your own. Be specific about what you want to do and makes sure to plan when you are going to take the action. Then, pay attention to how you feel when you intentionally use your Love, Kindness, or Social Intelligence. Tune in. Do you notice any changes in your body?

I hope you enjoy engaging your personal pathway to Humanity, and I look forward to seeing you next week as we engage and discover our personal pathways to Justice. 

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Peterson C, Seligman M. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol 1). Oxford University Press; 2004.

2. Polly S, Britton K, Maymin S. (Eds.). Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Positive Psychology News, LLC; 2015.

3. Rashid T, Anjum A. 340 ways to use VIA character strengths. Unpublished manuscript; 2005.

4. Wedding D, Niemiec R. Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe; 2008.

* Special thanks to viacharacter.org for the Character Strength Mottos