Articles in Strengths
It is a great pleasure for me to interview Emilia Lahti, a researcher whose work revolves around understanding how individuals, groups, and organizations grow from challenges and come out of hardships with a newly discovered sense of strength, purpose, and adaptability. Nowadays, Emilia is working on a Ph.D. on the age-old Finnish construct of sisu.
Lunch-time was often a struggle for my mental capacities. Rarely did a day go by when my vibrant nine-year old, just back from school, failed to enlighten us with long and winding tales of girly social interactions. Rarely did I manage to follow them all the way through. In fact, I usually lost the story line somewhere in Act One….
I guess it is the nature of parenthood to find your children ungrateful. Or at least not as grateful as they could be, should be or used to be. This feeling really hit me hard when my twins entered their teenage years. Then I realized how easily I had erased the memories of my little pigeons helplessly hooked up in their incubators, how conveniently I had become ungrateful to the forces that had listened to my desperate pleas for the life and health of my little babies.
I want to add to Lisa’s review of the book Focus by discussing prevention and promotion focus. Both kinds of focus can sometimes work together. For example, with the goal to exercise more, promotion-focus gives people enthusiasm for the gain of better fitness, and prevention-focus keeps them vigilant in the long term to avoid losing the fitness they built up.
Alexander the Great looked at the philosopher sitting there, impoverished, rags over the rib-thin body, and asked what he was doing. “I am experiencing nothingness,” said the philosopher. “What are you doing?” “I am conquering the world,” responded Alexander, and they both laughed. Each thought the other was a fool.
Although life may simply be a meaningless ride that we try and cloak with a fulfilling purpose, humor allows us to laugh at the insignificance of most things in the vast flow of human experience and yet connect to what we find truly important.
Yesterday, I set the stage with reflections on the teamwork character strength and then explored one way to build this strength. Today I’ll follow up with three more approaches. All of these approaches involve forgetting self-interest and thinking about the group as a whole. Put on your director hat, take that 30,000-foot view, and see what happens. The show doesn’t go on unless everyone pitches in.
If you’ve ever been in an artistic production you know that there can be many egos involved. But you also know that the best experiences for both actor and audience occur when people set status aside and do what must be done for the good of the production. Teamwork abounds, with all participants able to see the big picture as well as their places in it.
The holiday gift giving scene is upon us. Perhaps some of the suggestions here will give fresh ideas about giving gifts that show love and build well-being.
Sisu is a 500-year old Finnish construct, which appeals to the spirit and strength that enable people to persevere through difficulties despite feeling they have reached the end of their physical or mental capacities.