WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?


    Consider your interest areas in one or more domains of your life. What do you most want to spend your leisure time doing? What is most fun for you? List your top three interests:
    Which character strengths are you using most when you express these three passions? How do your character strengths help you ignite these interests?
    How often do you tap into these three interest areas? Does it seem like it might be important for you to arrange your life to have more time for one or more of them? If yes, how might you take action in that direction?
    How does this combination of your interests and accompanying character strengths help you at times of stress? Explore one stressor in your life in which your interests and character strengths played a central role in helping you resolve or manage it:
    Your Resources People, institutions, communities, and other networks of support that exist outside of you comprise your external resources. These, too, serve to boost your strength capacity and play an important role in believing you can handle and manage stress. If you have a lot of resources, then you perhaps have several close friends, take part in classes to enhance your learning, have family members you can turn to and rely on, and live in a trusting neighborhood. Being part of institutions that support you also contributes to this capacity, such as volunteer groups, religious or spiritual groups, and groups affiliated with your local schools or businesses. Those who suffer from an addiction will swear by the importance of regular attendance at a support group. Not only does this resource aid recovery, but it builds internal capacities like empathy, wisdom, courage, and resilience. Character strengths help you to connect within any particular resource. Your strengths of social intelligence and teamwork, for example, can assist you in navigating a new volunteer group, while your strengths of forgiveness and love can be practiced in the presence of others at a spiritual gathering. The resource itself may be a direct outlet for character strength expression, such as kindness if you volunteer for the Red Cross or judgment/critical thinking and bravery if you are involved with the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.
    Our resources serve as deep wells of support that sustain us through challenging times. Here’s what seventy-two-year old Edna had to say about the stress of losing her husband of forty-five years and the value of returning to her strengths in that time of need: After I lost Frank, I didn’t know what to do. I just sat at home. It was difficult to eat or to sleep. I wanted to be alone. My friends would come by to visit, but I didn’t want to see them. Everything was a struggle. Then I remembered my volunteer work at the downtown shelter and soup kitchen. I decided to go back to helping out two times a week. On the first day of my return, all the other volunteers and organizers sure were glad to see me! It was meaningful for me to be back as part of the volunteer team. But what I was most surprised by were the people receiving the services, most of whom were homeless. They were overjoyed. Most of them came and gave me a big hug. I was tearful by all this. And, of course, the outpouring of support I received from them about the loss of my dear Frank was wonderful. I can’t really describe it. I felt the love and warmth. After a week or two of volunteering, I was ready to return to the rest of my support network, such as my friends and my children and grandchildren. I don’t know what I’d do without everybody. WHAT ARE YOUR EXTERNAL SUPPORTS? Who are your supports? Consider your work, home, social, and community life. List the names of the people you feel supported by and who are part of your support network:
    What are your institutional or group supports? Name any business, nonprofit or volunteer organization, or educational or spiritual group that is a support to you:
    Considering the supports you listed in the previous two questions, what are the character strengths you use to connect with these people and institutions? Which character strengths help you thrive in these relationships? How does this combination of your resources and accompanying character strengths help you at times of stress? Explore one stressor in your life in which your resources and character strengths played a central role in helping you resolve or manage it:
    Putting All the Strengths Together This passage aptly captures the interrelationship of character strengths combined with other types of human strengths as a valuable way to augment capacity and handle stress: There’s a moving story of a young man named Benny, a talented and influential presenter to businesses and youth education programs. Benny was married, had two children, a strong spiritual community, and many friends. He was a charismatic man with many talents, resources, and interests. Unfortunately, job stress, financial struggles, and peer temptation began to impact Benny, and he turned to selling drugs to supplement his income. Benny noticed his resources began to dwindle as he prioritized the wrong crowd and avoided his childhood friends. His situation worsened as he sunk deep into this dangerous lifestyle. One day, when walking to his car in broad daylight, he was shot several times in the stomach and arms. Benny underwent seventeen surgeries and meanwhile lost all his financial savings, could no longer hold down his job, his wife left him, and he became estranged from his children and church community. These circumstances were accompanied by deep feelings of depression which almost always means anhedonia—a loss of interest in what he was previously interested in. As the young man recounted his story to me, he also shared  a stirring insight that came to him one day while lying in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling: “I had lost everything, the people in my life, my money, my job, and even use of parts of my body, but one thing I did not lose was my core strengths. These could not be taken away from me.” He was speaking about his bravery, honesty, creativity, social intelligence, and hopefulness. In summary, talents can be squandered, resources can be quickly lost, interests wane and change, skills diminish over time, but when all seems completely lost, we still have our character strengths. When focused on, our character strengths crystallize and evolve and can integrate with these other positive qualities to contribute to the greater good (Niemiec 2018, 17). Now that you’ve learned a wide range of strategies for boosting capacities, let’s turn to the other side of the stress equation: the pressure side.
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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