Home All Character Strengths and Mindfulness Work Together

Character Strengths and Mindfulness Work Together

written by Kathryn Britton 22 November 2023

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06, is a former software engineer and executive coach. She is now a writing coach and editor with a focus on helping people write books, blogs, and articles that contribute to the greater good (Theano Coaching LLC). She has been facilitating writing workshops since 2013. Her own books include Sit Write Share on how to get writing done well, Smarts and Stamina on using positive psychology principles to build strong health habits and Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Full bio. Kathryn's articles are here.



Ryan Niemiec has been teaching mindfulness and character strengths in combination for several years all over the world.  His students asked for resources to practice on their own, and aspiring teachers asked for resources to help their students learn.

This workbook is Ryan’s answer to these requests.

“May this workbook brighten your journey, lighten your tension, and deepen the joy and meaning of your life.” 

~ Ryan Niemiec, workbook preface

What is it all about?

Mindfulness involves open curious awareness of what’s happening right here and right now.  Many people use meditation practices to enhance mindfulness. 

Character strengths are our best qualities.  Using them more frequently and intentionally is a major pathway to well-being.

Mindfulness and character strengths can work hand in glove to help us flourish in the face of the unpredictable messiness of everyday life.  Putting the two together means using our character strengths to pursue greater mindfulness and using mindfulness to apply our character strengths with greater attention and awareness.  Thus, each can augment the other.  

Who might benefit?

It’s getting close to the end of the year.  I think of making New Year’s resolutions as a way to plan to become better, thinner, fitter, wiser versions of ourselves.  Resolutions often run out of steam by February.  What if instead we focused on mindfully paying attention to what’s going on in our lives and systematically applying the character strengths we already have?  Might that help us become the better versions of ourselves that we want to be? 

This is a workbook, which means that it contains many activities and questions for reflection.  An individual might work through the book, writing answers directly in the big spaces, causing the workbook to evolve into a personal manual for well-being.  A pair of accountability buddies might swap books to see each other’s progress.  A group might do the activities together and talk about the questions out loud.    

Who wrote the book?

Ryan Niemiec and Mindfulness

Ryan Niemiec is an expert on both character strengths and mindfulness.  In 2014, he wrote a guide for people who want to teach the skills of using mindfulness and character strengths together. He recently updated the manual, publishing a second edition last spring. While that book is an excellent resource, it is oriented to people who are already familiar with both topics and want to teach them together the way he does.  The new workbook is perhaps more accessible for people who are new to either topic and want to jump in and try things for their own benefit.

How does it work?

The workbook is divided up into 8 training sessions. Think of it as a map for a journey to greater self-awareness and well-being.  Here are the stops along the way:

  • Session 1: Mindfulness and Autopilot
  • Session 2: Your Character Strengths and Signature Strengths
  • Session 3:  Obstacles and Struggles are Opportunities
  • Session 4: Strengthening Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  • Session 5: Your Relationships with Yourself and Others
  • Session 6:  Mindfulness and the Golden Mean
  • Session 7:  Authenticity and Goodness
  • Session 8: Your Engagement with Life

I am most attracted to sessions 3 and 7.  I think we all need new ideas for turning struggles into opportunities, and I never stop looking for ways to become even more authentically myself while also contributing to the well-being of others.

Watching subway passengers

Each session starts with a  powerful story that shows the session concept in action.  I particularly liked the story in Session 4 in which Roz passes time on long subway trips by spotting strengths in the strangers in her car.  In my mind’s eye, I had a very clear picture of using this approach to fill an otherwise tedious time, such as waiting in a grocery line.

After the body of each session comes a toolkit of ways to apply the ideas further.  Each toolkit includes a summary sheet of the key insights.  I can imagine copying these out to keep together in a folder for quick review.  There are several practice activities with sheets for tracking progress.  Audio files of guided mindfulness meditations for each session are available on the book’s web site, along with printable versions of worksheets, in case you want to share them with accountability partners.

Why might you want to buy the workbook?

Ryan Niemiec has taught people around the world to  use mindfulness and character strengths awareness in order to live more flourishing lives.  Whether for yourself or someone you treasure, this book could be a holiday gift that makes a difference.

References

Niemiec, R. (2023). Mindfulness and Character Strengths Workbook. Hogrefe.

Niemiec, R. (2013). Mindfulness and Character Strengths: A Practical Guide to Flourishing Workbook. Hogrefe.

Niemiec, R. (2013). Mindfulness and Character Strengths: A Practitioner’s Guide to MBSP. Edition 2. Hogrefe.

Britton, K. (2014). Joining Strengths and Mindfulness (Book Review). Positive Psychology News.

Polly, S. & Britton, K. H. (Eds.) (2015). Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life (Positive Psychology News). Positive Psychology News.

Image Credits

Subway passenger picture by Alex Eckermann on Unsplass

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