Each of us has character strengths. Changing our lives for the better starts with igniting the strengths that are already within you. Each of the 24 character strengths are explained to the students and they are taught to identify and tap their greatest strengths and truly thrive in both their personal and school life.
Strengths are used to:
- Encourage insight and perspective in our lives
- Make you less sensitive to stress
- Generate optimism and resilience
- Provide a sense of direction
- Help to develop confidence and self-esteem
- Generate a sense of vitality and energy
- Engender a sense of happiness and fulfilment
- Help achieve one’s goals
- Enable one to be more engaged at work and perform better (Clifton & Anderson as cited in Boniwell, 2012)
E- Emotional Management
Students learn to name their emotions and understand how emotions impact on their own wellbeing. They will also learn how their emotions affect their learning and the learning of others in the classroom.
Did you know that positive emotions are important? Here’s why:
- They broaden our thought-action repertoires – or in other words, they allow us to think and show attention in a broader way, thus increasing our positive thoughts
- They undo negative emotions – it’s difficult to feel negative and positive emotions at the same time however, “deliberate experiences of positive emotions at times when negative emotions are dominant can serve to undo their lingering effects” (Boniwell, 2012)
- They enhance resilience – positive emotions increase problem-focused coping or encourage one to find positive meaning in a negative event
- They build psychological repertoire – or more simply, positive emotions boost “physical, intellectual, social and psychological resources that are enduring even though the emotions themselves are temporary” (Boniwell, 2012)
- They can trigger an upward developmental spiral – just as negative emotions can trigger a downward spiral, positive emotions can help us to improve our emotional wellbeing and bring us to a happier state of mind (Boniwell, 2012).
Sounds simple doesn’t it, create positive emotions and you will live a happy life! Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.
“Negativity is important. Nobody can flourish without it” (Frederickson, 2010). Negative feelings have a place in our lives. It is not normal that humans are happy all the time. However, it is how we deal with these emotions and use our skills to bounce back from the negative to the positive that is important. Frederickson (2010) suggests that your “positivity ratio makes a big difference. It forecasts whether your life trajectory is leading you to languish or flourish”. She proposes that for every “heart-wrenching negative emotional experience you endure, you experience at least three heartfelt positive emotional experiences that uplift you”. That is not to say that you need to create positive emotional experiences to counteract the negative all in one day. Frederickson (2012) suggests that you should attempt “to meet or exceed this ratio over a stretch of days or even weeks.
What can you do at home?
Talk with your children and have them name their emotions on a regular basis. Use the language of see, hear and feel with them to engage in conversations that teach them to know what the emotion may look like, feel like and sound like. For example:
See - I can see your hands are clenched which tells me that you may be angry
Hear - I hear laughter and that tells me you are enjoying each other’s company
Feel – I feel butterflies in my stomach, which means I’m excited.
A- Attention & Awareness
Attention is our ability to focus, either on inner aspects of self, such as emotions and physical sensations or on external stimuli (e.g. the teacher’s lesson in a classroom). Awareness refers to the ability to pay attention to stimulus as it occurs. Wellbeing is improved when individuals are aware of, and can consciously direct, their attention.
“Student’s social skills play an important role in allowing him/her to develop nourishing relationships with others” and how to “help students to understand, express and manage the social aspects of their learning”.
“Flourishing is not a solo endeavour. The tie between flourishing and enjoying social relations is so strong and reliable that scientists have called it a necessary condition for flourishing. Simply being with others – whether you know them or not – is an extraordinarily reliable way to increase your positivity” (Barbara Fredrickson, 2017).
“Having the resilience to cope with adversity is an essential life skill. Coping can be thought of as being able to balance the demands of life with the resources we have to manage those demands and being able to bounce back when we get thrown off balance”.
"Happy kids learn better" - Dr Martin Seligman
H- Habits & Goals
“Habits are those automatic processes that we do without even thinking about them – they can be both beneficial and detrimental to our wellbeing. Knowing how to break the bad, and create the good habits can help us progress towards our goals. When we set goals it can provide us with a sense of purpose, mastery and direction in life”.
Did you know?
- Goals require intention and effort
- Intentional practise forms habits
- It takes on average 66 days to form a new habit
- We perform better when we set goals
- Successful goal striving is a major predictor of wellbeing.
"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an act but a habit” - Aristotle.