Your Inner Strength: Persistence

Persist Like a Postage Stamp

The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job. ~ Napoleon Hill

To persist means to stick to a course of action in spite of obstacles and setbacks. Persistence is a skill you can develop with patient practice. Just because you are persistent in one thing does not automatically mean that you are will be persistent in all things. Persistence depends on commitment. You persist in things that are important to you, that motivate you.

Persistence has a bad reputation. It is generally associated with sales people or telephone solicitors who don’t take no for an answer. Perseverance and industrious are other words for persistence. Since I tend to root for the underdog, I will use persistence throughout this article.

What is persistence

According to psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, persistence is the voluntary continuation of a goal-directed action in spite of obstacles, difficulties, or discouragement. It requires patience, dedication and focus. The more ambitious a person’s goal is, the more they need persistence to achieve it. In addition, challenge is a prerequisite for persistence, without it, there is no need for persistence. If something is fun and easy, there is no need for persistence.

Persistence Characteristics

Your Inner Strength: Persistence Man climbing CliffSuccess rarely comes easily. In any area of our lives it is only achieved through hard work, determination and persistence driven by a vision or goal we want to reach, it is this goal that drives persistent people. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, if you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find excuses. Things like repeated failures, dead ends and lack of progress do not stop persistent people.

Thomas Edison was very persistent. He and his team conducted more than 10,000 experiments before he successfully invented the lightbulb. He said: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. He also said: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. True persistence may be seen as a burning desire to reach whatever goal a person has set. Persistent people finish what they start.

Persistent people show other characteristics, including:

  • Confidence: They know what they want and they rarely listen to the opinions of those who would dissuade them.Your Inner Strength: Persistence example of flexibility
  • Flexibility: They can adapt to changing situations, adjusting their action plans as needed. This allows them to focus on their goal and not their ego.
  • Responsibility: They do not give excuses or blame others for their problems or failures. At the same time they are patient with themselves and others and readily share what they have
  • Lifelong Learning: Persistent people are constantly learning new skills. They are naturally curious and seek out new information related to their goals.
  • Courageous: They are willing to let go of established habits or processes if they are not working and look for new alternatives. Like Edison, persistent people readily admit when something is not working and they are willing to accept good ideas from others.

Self-discipline: They have strong habits that help keep them on track and working toward their goals even when the end id fa in the future

Benefits of Persistence

Sisyphus pushing the bolder up the mountain – exercise your kindness muscle

Sisyphus by Nikolai Burdykin, Oil on Canvas

I never thought of myself as persistent – I was just a slogger. I kept slogging along until something was done. I am a female version of Sisyphus. No matter how many times the boulder rolls down the hill, I push it back to the top, not because I have to (like Sisyphus) but because I want to. 

But surprise, surprise, when it (whatever it was) was done, I reaped the rewards of my efforts. It took me 10 years to complete my Bachelor’s Degree and six years for my Master’s degree. As a result, I have had an interesting, adventurous, rewarding, and contributing life. Reaping the rewards of persistence is probably the greatest benefit of persistence,

Persistence in completing one project helps you build confidence that you can complete the next project. I am an avid bicyclist and when I was able to ride 25 miles, I knew that I would be able to ride 100 miles and I did!

Persistence also opens new opportunities for you. As you develop new skills, learn new things, and meet new people, you have more options, get new ideas and find additional, sometimes unique ways to apply the skills you gained through persistence. Do you want a promotion or a new job? Gain the skills you will need by persisting in your current job. Learn all you can and apply it.

Persistence also teaches patience, which is an important character strength. Reaching your goals takes time. It also requires that you have an action plan with specific steps to be taken in sequence, along with keeping track of your progress. This helps you strengthen your planning and organizational skills.

Your Inner Strength: Persistence Just Keep GoingPersistence helps you through the hard times, the failures, and the discouragement.  Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and he ended up as probably one of the greatest players even in the NBA. Persistent people are tough, failures do not stop them. They keep slogging along until they reach their goals. One of my favorite quotes on persistence comes from Winston Churchill: If you are going through hell, keep going.

Finally, according to NBA star Kevin Durant,

Your Inner Strength: Persistence Bent persistent tree refuses to stop growing.

Tree bark can be hard to paint but with training, experience and persistence, I am slowly improving. Just like this tree, I am persistent and refuse to give up.

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.  Persistent people work hard and keep going. I am far from a great painter. My style is unique and I have several vision problems that limit what I can do. You will never see a realism painting with my name on it. But, I keep going. I take classes, I watch YouTube videos, I read books, I talk to other artists and I keep painting. Consequently, my style is evolving, I am finally accepting that I cannot paint “like the artists I admire” and I am finding my voice as an artist I have even sold some of my artwork I do it all because I love painting, it is a challenge and I want to be the best artist I can be – whatever that looks like.

Building Persistence

Your Inner Strength: Persistence Under Construction Sign

Persistence is about taking things one day at a time, doing something each day and regular practice is the key to success. For example, a young man was walking along the street in New York City, carrying a violin case. He stopped a passing woman and asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The woman replied, “Practice, practice, practice.” Okay, it is an old joke; and like many old jokes, it is true. That is why we remember them. Plan to work on your goal and persistence every day.

Suggestions for Building Persistence

Write down your well-being goal and post it someplace where you will see it regularly – on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, by the front door. Read it every day. For example, I have my goal on my electronic device, which goes everyplace with me. Whenever I open it, there is my goal.

Plan your process. Make a list of the steps you must take to meet your goal. Break each step down into its components and make a schedule for when and how to do each part and step. Make a check list of things to do and regularly update it.

Keep score. Add a tally sheet to your posted goal and keep track of what you do each day to meet it. I keep a log (tally sheet) on my electronic device and I update it every day, sometimes, multiple times a day. I also use it to keep track of questions that come up or things that need follow-up

Give yourself rewards for your successes. When you complete a task step on your to do list, reward yourself by listening to a favorite tune or treat yourself to a “guilty pleasure” like buying a large cup of your favorite coffee instead of the usual medium. For me, it would be chocolate.

Visualize the result. What will it look like and what will you feel like when you reach your goal when a difficult associate says thank you or you run your first marathon?

Ask for help. My friend Katy has what she calls her “board of directors.” It is a group of friends whom she can call on for support when she needs help or just “needs a friend.” It doesn’t need to be several people; one person whom you trust and respect can be a great source of strength and support.

Be ready for setbacks. Be flexible and be ready to change and adapt. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” As you work on your goal, pay attention to how it is going and be ready to make changes as necessary. Remember, you may be your own worst enemy. So, don’t punish yourself when you experience a setback.

Remember that change take times and practice. Notice when you are impatient. What triggers your impatience? How does your body feel when you are impatient? Are you clenching your jaw or maybe your hands?

Your Inner Strength Challenge…

  1. Use My Persistence Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and your creativity.
  2. Share your experience with us in the Response section below.

Consider This…

Your Inner Strength: Persistance helps you climb a mountain

You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.                ~ Tom Hiddleston

Riddle Me This…

Q: Did you hear the joke about the roof?

A: Never mind, it’s over your head!

Image Credits
  • We Can Do It Stamp: USPS.com
  • Man climbing: Glide Design
  • Mouse: Inner Self
  • Just Keep Going: QuoteGram
  • Under Construction Sign: Pixabay
  • Persistent Tree:
    Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn ©2019 All Rights Reserved
  • Mountain: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn ©2019 All Rights Reserved

Your Inner Strength: Hope

Your Inner Strength: Hope Plan growing in cement

There is Still Hope by Tjod

The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, “I can do this.” It brings inner strength, self-confidence, [and] the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully, and transparently.”
– Dalai Lama

In 1913, American author Eleanor H Parker, published her children’s book Pollyanna. It quickly became a classic and led to several sequels often called Glad Books because of Pollyanna’s every present optimism and hope. The name Pollyanna became a code word for a person who is constantly positive and hopeful. It also led to the Pollyanna Principle, which states that we humans have a tendency to opt for the positive.

Your Inner Strength Hope Pollyana Book CoverDid you notice in the above paragraph that I used the words optimism and hope together and even interchangeably? We humans tend to do this. We consider optimism and hope synonymous. But they are not the same. While many researchers have written long scholarly articles about the difference between optimism and hope, researcher and author Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D came up with a straightforward way to separate the two:

  • Optimism is an attitude – you think that tomorrow will be better than today or yesterday.
  • Hope is the belief in a better future and the action to make it happen.

This article is about hope, not optimism, and I will not use the words interchangeable. Hope is an important character strength and an essential one for the art of living given the crazy, fast paced uncertain world we live in.

What is hope?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hope is the expectation of Your Inner Strength: Hope Indifferent, happy and sad facessomething desired – the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. According to Snyder, Irving and Anderson in Handbook of Social and Clinical Psychology: The Health Perspective, hope is an ability that an individual possesses to identify one’s aims, develop strategies to achieve them; and also strive for excellence in the face of obstacles. In other words, hope is a character strength based on reality. It is not wishful oo Pollyanna thinking.

According to Snyder, Hope is a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy), and (b) pathways (plans to meet goals). Snyder and his associates developed the Hope Theory based on his theory of agency and pathways. It has four (4) elements:

  • Valuable but uncertain goals are the anchors of hope because they point out a direction and a goal or endpoint for hopeful thinking.
  • Pathway thoughts are the steps you take to reach your goal. These pathway thoughts also include your perceived ability to take the necessary steps to reach your goal.
  • Agency thoughts are a fancy name for your motivation. In other words, what is driving you to pursue a specific goal.
  • Barriers block the path to your goal. When faced with a barrier you have three options: give up; break down the barrier: or find a pay or way around that barrier.. When you give up, hope is gone.

Basically, you have hope when you know what you want; have options on how to get what you want; then start working and keep going until you get what you want.

Characteristics of Hope

When hopeful people think about the future, they expect that desired results will be achieved and take the necessary steps to achieve their goals. Specifically, hopeful people:

  • Remain positive about the future and have a positive attitude. They see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
  • Have confidence in their skills and abilities because they look at life and their resources realistically.
  • Are clear about the goals they want to achieve
  • Have a plan for the future.
  • When they have a setback, they study the situation and look for opportunities to improve their performance in the future.
  • Believe that good will always triumph over evil in the end.
  • Are grateful for the small things in life like the smile of a child; their dog excited to see them; or a beautiful sunset.
  • Surround themselves with positive, upbeat people and don’t take the opinions of the  gloom and doom predictors seriously.
  • At peace with the past and forgive others.
  • Smile! This releases serotonin in the brain, a hormone that leads to a feeling of well-being.

Your Inner Strength Hope Glass Half FullFinally, hopeful people give their time and energy to others. Communications consultant G. Donald Gale suggests: A pessimist, they say, sees a glass as being half empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty. Thanks to my friends Gina and David Demangos for sending me this quote. They are role models  of positive, hopeful, realistic people.

Benefits of Hope

Hopeful people don’t just see the glass as half full. They make the best of the situations in which they find themselves; are more productive at work; and, as a result, tend to earn more money than their pessimistic co-workers. They are more likely to achieve their goals because they keep finding ways to move forward and they are better problem solvers.

According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, hopeful people tend to have fewer colds; a lower risk level for heart attacks; are less susceptible to depression and anxiety; and also live longer than others.

Hope helps silent the inner critic – that annoying voice in your head that constantly finds fault with everything you do and say. It helps you manage the stresses of everyday life and adapt more easily to negative situations because they believe that the situation can be effectively handled in one way or another.

Think of it this way: hope is like a mariposa lily. It appears fragile andYour Inner Strength: Hope is like a mariposa lily– very strong delicate; but, it is incredibly strong. It grows in the dry hot deserts of California and Mexico and even when the flowers are destroyed by wildfires, they grow again because the plant’s bulb is still in the ground. In other words: H.O.P.E. = Hold On Pain Ends

Building Hope

According to the psychologists at the Values in Action (VIA) Institute, hopeful people expect the best in the future and work to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.

According to researcher and psychologists at the University of California, Berkley, the following best possible self exercise has proven effective in building hope because it is backed by sound research and people find it helpful.

Your Inner Strength: Hope You Best Possible SelfYour Best Possible Self Exercise
  1. Take a moment to imagine a future in which you are bringing your best self forward and everything is happening as you wish.
  2. Picture it in a way that is pleasing and realistic.
  3. Then, consider the character strengths needed in order to make your image a reality.
  4. For the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagine this best possible future to be. Use the instructions below to help guide you through this process.
    1. Don’t worry about things that have been difficult for you in the past like finances, relationships, etc. Instead, focus on the future—imagine a brighter future in which you are your best self and your circumstances change just enough to make your best possible life happen.
    2. Be very specific. For example, if you want a new job, imagine exactly what it would be like:
      1. What would you do?
      2. Who would your co-workers be?
      3. Where would it be located?

The more specific you are, the more involved you will be in the exercise and the more you’ll get out of it.

Additional Ways to Build Hope

Here are some additional ways to help you build hope:

  • Make a list of bad things that have happened to you in the last two years. For each bad thing, write down two good things.
  • Using Your Best Possible Self Exercise, imagine where you want to be in one, five and ten years. Then, build a plan you can follow to reach your goals.
  • Write down your negative and positive thoughts. How do these thoughts affect your behavior. Be brutally honest with yourself.
  • When facing a problem, take a moment to remember how you solved a similar problem in the past.
  • Surround yourself with hopeful positive people.
  • At least once a week, take some quiet time to write down some positive, hopeful ideas about things you can do. Discuss these ideas with your family members or trusted friends and build a plan on how to implement your ideas.
Your Inner Strength Challenge…
  1. Use My Hope Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and you creativity.
  2. Share you experience with us in the Response section below.
Consider This …Your Inner Strength: The Golden Mean

Hope is the golden mean between euphoria and fear. It is a feeling where transcendence meets reason and caution meets passionPlease build up your hope. Then with hope to spare, help others build a future that is better than the present. Much better. Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D

Riddle Me This…

Q: How do you make an octopus laugh?

A: With ten-tickles

References

Snyder, C. R., Irving, L., & Anderson, J. R. (1991). Hope and health: Measuring the will and the ways. In C. R. Snyder, & D. R. Forsyth (Eds.), Handbook of social and clinical psychology: The health perspective (pp. 285-305). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.

Image Credits
  • There is Hope: Tjod
  • Pollyanna: Amazon
  • Glass Half Full: com
  • Happy Face: Healthaio
  • Mariposa Lily: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn © 2012 All Rights Reserved.
  • Discover Your Best Possible Self: Mindful.org
  • Golden Mean: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Mattie Stepanek: Amazing Person/Everyday Hero

Mattie Stepanek (Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek) would probably be embarrassed by the title of this article. He was a poet, a  peace advocate and motivational speaker who wanted to be known as a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played. He published seven books of poetry and essays on peace.

Image of Mattie Stepanek and amazing person and everyday hero in 2004 shortly before his death at age 13.

Mattie knew a lot about rough times, He was 13 years old when he died from complications of  dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a genetic disease that impaired almost all of his body’s major functions, including heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and digestion, and caused muscle weakness. 

Through the Make a Wish Foundation, Mattie met President Jimmy Carter and they wrote a book together – Just Peace. President Carter gave the eulogy at Mattie’s funeral. He said: …My wife and I have been to more than 120 nations. And we have known kings and queens, and we’ve known presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek.

Mattie Stepanek had a rough life. Even so, he knew about kindness, compassion, peace, faith, play and joy. He wrote about these things in his poems. When I read them, I smile and cry. I find beauty and inspiration in his short, rough life. We need more people like Mattie Stepanek in the world. Here is the the poem he wrote on the night of September 11, 2001.

For Our World

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment.
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment.
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment.
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice.
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment.
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, Hope Through Heart Songs, Hyperion, 2002

Your Inner Strength: Creativity

Your Inner Strength: Creativity Blackboard with Post-It Notes listing attributes of creativity

Yes. You are Creative!

When you first read the title of the post, you probably asked yourself: Why is she writing about creativity?  I have no creativity! So, why should I care about it?

Well, Twyla Tharp answered your questions in the quote above. Ms. Tharp is a successful dancer, choreographer, director and author, so she knows a thing or two about creativity. I am writing about creativity because, contrary to what you may think, you are creative. But, your creativity is a dormant inner strength.

Think about your childhood and ask yourself these questions. Did you:

  • Color or paint pictures?
  • Make things with paper and scissors, clay, and other materials?
  • Create a fort in the living room using blankets and furniture?
  • Pretend to be a superhero, a princess or some other character?

Activities like these are creative and as a child, you were encouraged to be creative because that was how you learned – by exploring your world, trying new things, and problem solving. Creativity also allowed you to express yourself without judgement.

Somewhere along the line, your creativity went to sleep. Ironically, now as a mature, responsible adult, you need your creativity more than ever because you still need to express yourself, solve problems and try new things. As Pablo Picasso explained it, every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.

What is creativity?

Your Inner Strength: Creativity:Painting by  Joan Miro, Padres, The Village (1917) The Guggenheim Museum, New York
Joan Miro, Padres, The Village (1917) The Guggenheim Museum, New York

Simply stated, creativity is a way to express your experiences and feelings. A more complex definition comes from psychologist E. Paul Torrance:

Creativity is a process of becoming sensitive to problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty; searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies: testing and retesting these hypotheses and finally communicating the results. (1)

Psychologists have identified two basic forms of creativity. There is Big C creativity displayed by people like Da Vinci and Beethoven.  These are the people we think of when we hear the word creativity. They are great ones. But Big C creativity also includes people like Albert Einstein and Bill Gates because they were pre-eminent in their fields. What they did literally changed the world.

Then, there is little c, which is best described as ingenuity. It includes those aha moments that give you joy, don’t make you rich or famous, but make a significant impression on your family, friends and co-workers. According to psychologist Margaret A. Boden, the author of The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (2003), creativity is the ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising, and valuable. “Ideas,” here, includes concepts, poems, musical compositions, scientific theories, cooking recipes, choreography, jokes … and so on, and on… creativity enters into virtually every aspect of life. It’s not a special “faculty,” but an aspect of human intelligence in general.  It’s grounded in everyday abilities, such as conceptual thinking, perception, memory, and reflective self-criticism. So it isn’t confined to a tiny elite: Every one of us is creative, to a degree.

How does creativity benefit me?

Versamel voels neste orels in Namibia by John Paul Capanogio

This is the bottom line question – WIIFM (what is in it for me). Why should you care about creativity?  Why should you develop and use your creativity you? Because you:

  • Become a better problem solver because you connect the dots by noticing connections in a problem that you may not have seen before.
  • Have a greater sense of freedom because there is no correct way to be creative. As Frank Sinatra sang, I did it my way(lyrics by Paul Anka), you get to try new things and take risks in a healthy, constructive way.
  • Save money because being creative helps suppress impulsive spending and when you make things yourself, you spend less money than you would in buying that same item.
  • Are at your most authentic because to develop your ideas, you must draw on your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. In doing this, you learn to trust and respect yourself, and your instincts.
  • Relieve your stress. It is easy and natural to get caught up in the moment of creativity, thus pushing aside the stressors of daily life.
  • Have an expanded sense of time – you lose track of it when you are engaged in a creative project.

Perhaps most importantly, being creative brings you a sense of accomplishment, even if sometimes you want to tear it up and start over. That is normal. Stick with it!

How can I strengthen my creativity?

You are still thinking. So what? I’m still not creative! Au contraire my Gentle Readers. Remember, you were born creative. Photographer John Paul Caponigro reminds us: You are a lot more creative that you think. The human species is a creative species. But no two people are creative in the same way. Ask two artists to paint the same scene and each will do it differently according to their perception, style, focus and experience.

So, here are some ideas to help you re-awaken or strengthen your creativity:

  • Think about how you felt as a child, painting, cutting and pasting, or building a furniture fort. How fun was that! Look for ways to be more playful, to have more fun. Play and fun are good things!
  • Look for new and creative ways to do regular tasks, such as cleaning or grocery shopping.
  • When solving a problem, clearly define the problem and its related issues. Then, brainstorm a list of possible solutions and analyze each idea.
  • Offer a creative solution to a problem faced by a family member, friend or co-worker.
  • Restart an old hobby. Get out your scrapbooking supplies and get busy creating. Dig out that old musical instrument buried in a box in the garage or attic and play it again.
  • Start a new hobby. Keep a journal. Try writing a poem. Take photos of nature, animals, people or interesting buildings.
  • Find ways to spend time on the things you do best.
  • Buy art supplies and play. For example, adult coloring books are very popular right now. Check out this NBC New story by Rehema Ellis (2015), Why Adults are Embracing Coloring Books of Their Own.
  • Visit museums, attend concerts and plays
  • Start a new hobby. Keep a journal. Try writing a poem. Take photos of nature, animals, people or interesting buildings.
  • Find ways to spend time on the things you do best.
  • Buy art supplies and play. For example, adult coloring books are very popular right now. Check out this NBC New story by Rehema Ellis (2015), Why Adults are Embracing Coloring Books of Their Own.
Franz Marc Muse by Diane Chinn
(Based on Franz Marc’s painting Stony Path [1911/1912])

  • Visit museums, attend concerts and plays. This painting (done by Yours Truly) was an attempt to copy the art of abstract expressionist painter Franz Marc. I saw the original painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I was so moved by it, I had to copy it, which helped me understand composition and the Expressionist concept.
  • Free write: For 15 – 20 minutes write whatever comes to mind without censoring or editing your thoughts. Don’t worry about the spelling, grammar or the topic. Just write.
  • Listen to music or read about creative people.
  • Use leftovers (food, paper, etc.) to create something new.
  • Make a personalize greeting card rather than buying one.
  • Learn something new or take a class.
  • Keep a collection of photos, quotations and other items to inspire you.

Finally, take care of yourself, physically and mentally. It takes energy, discipline and intelligence to be creative. Or, as Albert Einstein said: Creativity is intelligence having fun

Don’t worry about perfection. Salvador Dali said, Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it. With creativity, perfection is the end – a full stop. There is nothing else to do. The goal is to express yourself and have fun, not be perfect!

Your Inner Strength Challenge…

  1. Use My Creativity Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and you creativity.
  2. Share your experience with is in the Response section below.

Consider This…

Journalist and author Bill Moyers said that Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. How will you use your creativity to find the marvelous in the mundane of everyday life? 

Riddle Me This…

Q. What did the hat say to the scarf?
A. You hang around, and I’ll go ahead.

References

Torrance, Paul. “Verbal Tests: Forms A and B-Figural Tests, Forms A and B.”. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: Personnel Press. p. 6.

Image Credit

Your Inner Strength: Spirituality

sp glassesSpirituality – A Way of Seeing Life

Spirituality is a way of living and a way of seeing life… Because Spirituality is about authentic living as well as meaning making; it is a highly personal reality. ~ H. Anderson, Feet Planted Firmly in Midair (1999)

We all have something we believe in. It is part of our nature. According to Psychology Today Basics:

Research shows that even skeptics can’t stifle the sense that there is something greater than the concrete world we see. As the brain processes sensory experiences, we naturally look for patterns and then seek out meaning in those patterns. And the phenomenon known as “cognitive dissonance” shows that once we believe in something, we will try to explain away anything that conflicts with it.

Humans can’t help but ask big questions—the instinct seems wired in our minds.

So, it doesn’t much matter whether we call it religion, spirituality, values, creed or a code of conduct, we have something that, at our core, shapes our lives and drives us. For the sake of convenience I will use the term spirituality throughout this article.

sp dockDefining Spirituality
Each of us defines spirituality in our own way. For some, it is part of their religion. For others, it is a connection to a Higher Power and with those around them. Spirituality takes many forms, such as meditation, philosophy, art, music, environmental conservation and the way we interact with others with compassion, kindness, fairness and tolerance.  Turner (1999) defined spirituality as that which comes from within, beyond the survival instincts of the mind. (1) It is our core, our wisdom or gut instinct. Spirituality is a driver of meaning and motivation in all the areas of our lives and creates inner peace and stability. It also helps us manage our emotions.

Research psychologists Martin Seligman, Christopher Peterson and their associates found that spirituality exists in all cultures and has been around as long as the human species. According to them all cultures have a concept of an ultimate, transcendent, sacred, and divine force. These belief systems seek to help people to grapple with core existential concerns (i.e., questions of purpose and meaning) and posit rules and values that guide individuals’ relationships, as well as their efforts to cope with the travails of life.

For me, spirituality means connecting with and helping others. That is why I write this blog. It also means living with integrity, kindness, gratitude and humor. After all, life is too important to be taken seriously. ~Oscar Wilde

Spirituality is about process – how we do things, – rather than reaching goals. It is about living and working mindfully; deliberately and thoughtfully making choices. It is about looking at the bigger picture and considering those around us – our family members, friends, co-workers, and the people we encounter every day. As we develop our spiritual side, we notice what is working well and build on it.  We acknowledge others and express our gratitude. We pause from time to time and take a few deep breaths to manage our stress. Spirituality is not necessarily about meditation, yoga, prayer or religious practice, although these are important tools for many people.

sp mountainCharacteristics of Spirituality
You don’t have to retreat to a mountain top to be a spiritual person. Spiritual people:

  • Are not self-centered or vain. They rarely use pronouns like “I, me, my or mine.”
  • Put forth their best efforts, but do not define themselves by their work or the outcome of it.
  • Do not need the approval of others. They draw their strength and confidence from within.
  • Are calm and realistic.
  • Do not depend on others for their happiness nor do they blame others for problems.
  • Feel a connection to others showing compassion and kindness.
  • Tolerant – always striving to appreciate the uniqueness and good in others.
  • Appreciate silence. They tend to speak less and listen more.
  • Do not hold grudges and have no problem forgiving others.
  • Do not try to control others because they know that the only person they can control is themselves.
  • Love knowledge and personal growth, so they are always learning and developing new skills.
  • Live with integrity in the present moment, whatever it may be.

sp pathBenefits of Spirituality
Like other character strengths, spirituality offers you some benefits: Spiritual people:

  • Are healthier than those who are not because they treat themselves gently. They don’t go to extremes and are more likely to have preventive health habits like using seat belts when driving.
  • Do not engage in blame or bad feelings after a difficult situation. This reduces stress, which reduces blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health.
  • Have the strength and resources to deal with difficult situations so they “bounce back” more easily after these situations.

Developing Your Spiritualitysp help
Like many things in life, developing or strengthening your spirituality is a journey – one that requires patience and persistence. According to author Yehuda Berg, To me, spirituality means “no matter what.” One stays on the path, one commits to love, one does one’s work; one follows one’s dream; one shares, tries not to judge, no matter what.

Here are some simple things that you can do every day, such as:

  • Making time for silence each day. For just a few minutes, put down your electronic device, stop talking, be still, and just listen to the silence. Silence helps still the inner chatter– the shoulds, woulds and coulds that plague you throughout the day. Silence makes you more aware of the world around you, like the sound of a car passing on the street or the voice of a child playing next door. Silence is not necessarily meditation, but it can be.
  • Not judging. See and accept people and situations as they are. Remember that the only thing you can control is yourself. So, why waste time and energy judging and criticizing others. This helps youDDalai Lama still the inner chatter that is so exhausting.
  • Giving and receiving. Being kind and compassionate inspires others to do the same and the spiritual person is often the recipient of those kind actions.
  • Regular journaling. This helps you be more aware of your inner life – the thoughts and emotions that drive you. It also helps you understand your experiences more clearly. And, it gives you a safe place to vent you pain and frustration.
  • Learning about spirituality. Take the time to read the work of various spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Malala Yousufzan, Russell M. Nelson, Deepak Chopra and others. In fact, Mahatma Ghandi suggested that the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) is an excellent blueprint for a spiritual life. (2)

IS Mahatma GandhiYour Spirituality Inner Strength Challenge

Spirituality is intensely personal and private. It is not something that we need to preach about.  According to E. Stanley Jones, an author and friend of Mahatma Gandhi:

Gandhi constantly said to the Indian Christians and missionaries: “Don’t talk about it. The rose doesn’t have to propagate its perfume. It just gives it forth and people are drawn to it. Don’t talk about it. Live it. And people will come to see the source of your power. (2).

  1. Use My Spirituality Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and grow your fairness strength.
  2. Share you experience with us in the Leave a Reply section below.

Share your thoughts with us in the Response section below.

Consider this…
Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. ~ Mike Yaconelli

Riddle Me This…
Q: Why did the boy sprinkle sugar on his pillow before he went to sleep?
A: So he could have sweet dreams.

References

  1. Turner, J. (1999), “Spirituality in the workplace,” CA Magazine, 132 (10) ,41-42.
  2. Jones, E. Stanley, (1948) Mahatma Gandhi, An Interpretation, Nashville, TN: Abingdon-Colesbury Press.

Image Credits

Your Inner Strength: Fairness

Fairness: Fair Mindedness or Being Fair

YOur Inner Strength Fairness Happy Old Goat

Happy Old Goat

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A close family member once offered his opinion that I exhibit the phone manners of a goat then promptly withdrew the charge – out of fairness to goats. ~ Jeffrey Kluger

Animals have an innate sense of fairness. Don’t believe me? Watch primatologist Frans de Waal’s’ TedTalk on Moral Behavior in Animals. Partnering with psychologist Sarah Brosnan, they found that animals expect to be treated fairly. In a now famous study, they gave Capuchin monkeys a treat for moving a simple rock. One monkey received a cucumber slice while the second monkey was given a grape. Capuchins find grapes much tastier that cucumber slices. So, when they repeated the rock moving task the first monkey rejected the cucumber slice, throwing it back at the researcher. The monkey wanted a grape.

In short, animals understand moral fairness – equal pay for equal work. Even small children understand basic fairness. Every parent and teacher has heard to plaintive wail of a child: It’s not fair!

What is fairness?

We could spend days debating the definition of fairness. So to keep things simple and save time and space, we will use the following definition throughout this article:

True fairness incorporates both a respect for moral guidelines and a compassionate approach to caring for others. This strength is applicable at all levels of society, from everyday interactions to international issues of social justice. ~ Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D and Afroze Anjum, Psych.D.

Being fair means that our actions are free from favoritism, prejudice, dishonesty and injustice. Ohio State University Head Football Coach Wes Fesler described fairness as man’s ability to rise above his prejudices.

Your Inner Strength: Fairness Baby CryingFairness is as innate in humans as it is in animals and it show up in human behavior at an early age. Psychologists Alessandra Geraci and Luca Surian found that children as young as 12 – 18 months old attend to the outcomes of distributive actions to evaluate agents’ actions and to reason about agents’ dispositions. In other words, they pay attention to make sure that they are being treated fairly.

Fairness Characteristics

We humans are social creatures. Social status, respect and a sense of belonging are often as important, if not more important than our financial status or our material possessions. We are happy when people treat us with fairness and respect.

The best article I found on fairness was written by 9-year old Hazel Crossman. In her 2014 essay for the Saratoga County, New York Character First Program she wrote:

Fairness is a lot more than we think. It is not only making sure that everyone is treated the same. It encourages, respect, responsibility, leadership, trust and a life that matters. All of these things affect a community.

Take a moment to read Hazel’s entire essay on fairness, It is very well thought out, beautifully written, and more profound than any of the scholarly articles I read in researching this article. Consequently, being fair or fair-mindedness is an important strength to develop and use. YOur Inner Strength Fairness: Got Fairness

Being Fair Minded

Fair-minded people believe that all people get an equal chance. Their goal is to treat all people equability after considered different perspectives. They:

  • Make sure that every person gets their fair share.
  • Do not use or cheat people to meet their personal agendas.
  • Treat people with kindness and respect.
  • Are responsible for their own behavior.
  • Do not discriminate against others for any reason.
  • Do not follow the crowd. If something is not fair or just, they will not do it even when everyone else is.
  • Are open-minded and reasonable. They will not ask others to do thing that they will not do. As Oscar Wilde wrote. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
  • Are objective and use good judgement. They consider the perspectives of others and make decision on facts, not emotions.
  • Even-handed. They make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful.
  • Follow the rules – both the letter and the spirit of the rules. They do not twist the rules for their personal advantage.
  • Do not expect, ask or accept special favors. They take their turn and not pushing to the front of the line.
  • Carry their own weight and not expecting others to do the work.
  • Make good leaders because they earn the respect of their peers; work to create win-win situations; and are good role models. They walk the talk.

Your Inner Strength: Fairness Taking the biggest slice of pieBenefits of Fairness

Being fair is hard work. But, it is rewarding. For example, fair-minded people tend to make fewer mistakes because they have fewer false assumptions that drive their decision-making. Because they gather facts and consider the perspectives of others they are constantly learning. This learning makes the better decision makers.

In addition, they are good listeners and have few biases than others. This makes them good co-workers, friends, and family members. Because they work to involve others and threat them with respect, they are more productive, better problem solvers, and are fun to be around. In fact, being fair-minded can be downright sexy.

Quoting again from Hazel Crossman’s excellent essay:

It should be important to a person to act with fairness. If you do this people will respect and trust you. People will know that you are nice and they will want to be your friend. You will have a better opportunity to live a wonderful life. When a person doesn’t think something is fair they stand up for change in their community.

Being Fair

Those who get upset for being treated the way that they treat others, will neverYour Innter Strength: Fairness The Golden Rule understand why others treat them the way that they treat others. ~ David H. Martinez

Treat people the way you want to be treated. It really is that simple. Live the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. According to ethicist and professor Simon Blackburn, the Golden Rule dates back to at least 600 BCE and is featured prominently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and the rest of the world’s major religions.

Practice Being Fair

So, how do we practice fairness by living the Golden Rule? Here a few suggestions:

  • Start by asking and answering some questions for yourself:
    • What does being fair mean to me?
      • Does it mean everyone gets the same amount, like an equal piece of a chocolate bar?
      • Does it mean enforcing the rules for everyone, even if it means that I lose?
    • How do I want others to treat me?
    • How do I feel when I treat others poorly, and not how I want to be treated?
    • What motivates me?
    • What stops me from treating people fairly; being more considerate; and kind?
    • When I fail to treat people fairly, how can I correct my behavior – be fair and open-minded?
    • How do I feel when others treat me unfairly?
    • How does being affect my relationships with others– family members, friends, co-workers
  • Program a daily reminder on your cell phone or other electronic device to treat people fairly. Or, write it on a piece of paper and post it where you see it every day – on the bathroom mirror, by the door or on the refrigerator. You can make it simple like always be fair, or remember the Golden Rule. Or you can be fancy like me. I use a quote from French playwright and novelist Alain-René Lesage: Fairness is such a valuable thing that no money can buy it.
  • Treat every person you meet, no matter what the situation is, with kindness and respect.
  • Use good manners. Say, please, thank you, and you are welcome. Don’t interrupt, and be courteous. Good manners actually save time because if you are always courteous, you don’t spend time wondering if you are treating the other person properly. It saves both grief and guilt.

Your Innter Strength Fairness Children sharingLearn from Children

The following list comes from a lesson plan for elementary school students – How to Be a Good Person. I liked it so much; I’m passing it along to you (with a few terminology changes to account of the age difference between you – my Gentle Reader – and children):

  • Take turns.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Play by the rules.
  • Treat people the way you want others to treat you.
  • Don’t play favorites – include everyone.
  • Listen to everyone with an open mind.
  • Don’t blame others for your mistakes.
  • Think about how your actions affect others.
  • Don’t trick, cheat, con or use others for your personal benefit.

Your Fairness Inner Strength ChallengeYour Inner Strength Fairness: Fair FIght

Win or lose, do it fairly. ~ Knute Rockne

  1. Use My Fairness Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and grow your fairness strength.
  2. Share you experience with us in the Response section below.

Riddle Me This…

Q. What do you call a duck that gets all A’s?
A. A wise quacker.

Images:

Celebrate Your Inner Fool

Be Authentic – Celebrate Your Inner Fool

Mark Twain sitting in a rocking chair on a porch, April 1 – Celebrate Your Inner Fool

Mark Twain

April 1: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.

Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect.

~ Mark Twain

We can always count on Mark Twin to “cut to the chase,” or”tell it like it really is” and April Fool’s Day is no exception. We are all fools or do foolish things from time to time and part of being authentic is accepting our foolishness, learning from it and even celebrating it.

We are all imperfectly messy human beings and the imperfectly, messy person that is you is far superior and much more interesting than any person you may pretend to be or what someone else thinks you should be.

Celebrate the unique, beautiful person you are by doing one thing today that is authentically, foolishly you. You are uniquely, wonderfully you. Celebrate the authentic you.

Your Inner Fool

Did you know that you have an Inner Fool and that it is an important part of who you are?

Your Inner Fool is that part of you that is silly, encourages you to play, tells jokes, is spontaneous and takes leaps of faith. Think of it as your inner child coming out to play from time to time.

Is it ironic that two weeks ago I was advising you to be prudent and today I am advising you to be foolish? Actually, No!  A well balanced person is one who is both prudent and foolish. They know which is appropriate when, where, how and with whom.

Your Foolish Challenge…

On this April Fool’s Day, be authentic by celebrating your inner fool. Respect your foolishness and let it shine. Look for the silly in everyday life. It makes life more fun and more interesting. According to Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Tell us one foolish thing you did or will do to celebrate your inner fool in the Response section below.  I’ll go first.  I painted a box of rocks to celebrate my inner fool. Yes, I know what immediately popped into your mind: Dumber than a box of rocks. And yes, I just gave new meaning to the proverbial box of rocks.

Art and Inspiration: Box of Rocks, Celebrate your inner fool

Consider This…
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~ William Shakespeare

Riddle Me This…
Q: What monster plays the most April Fool’s jokes?
A: Prankenstein.

Images:

Mark Twain: The Mark Twain House and Museum

Box of Rocks: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn © 2019 All rights reserved

Your Inner Strength: Prudence

PrudenceYour Inner Strength: Prudence (Forethought, Good Judgement or Common Sense)

Question: What do Britney Spears, Martha Stewart, and the character strength Prudence have in common?

Answer: They all need a good publicist and an image makeover.

~ Ben Dean, PhD

Prudence has a bad reputation. It is not the name of my great-grandmother nor does prudent describe your timid co-worker who is afraid to make a decision. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle considered prudence  one of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance). In fact, it was the “charioteer of the virtues” because it guides the others.

Simply stated, a prudent person uses wisdom, experience and logic to examine a situation, and then examines the possible consequences before making a decision. Prudent people look to the future and resist impulsive actions that might interfere with their goals. They are patient, working to balance personal and work goals. Prudence is also known as practical wisdom or rational choice and it is one of the cornerstones of the art of living.

Your Inner Strengthy Synonyms for prudenceThe Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1806-1809) gives us an excellent definition of prudence. It is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; “the prudent man looks where he is going.”

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a clear model of what prudence is and is not:

  • Prudence is:
    • About flexibility and self management.
    • Focused on personal goals and interests in the context of positive. relationships and the well-being of others.
    • Applied to the whole of life.
  • Prudence is not:
    • Another word for extreme caution, compulsive self-restraint, timid conformity or lack of spontaneity.
    • Selfish or coldly calculating; focused on society conventions or rigid rules.
    • Just about money, work and narrowly defined personal achievement.

 

Characteristics of a Prudent Person

Your Inner Strength Prudence

Decision, actions and even words have consequences. Prudence pushes those consequences in a positive direction.

People act prudently every day, they just don’t use the word. For example, prudent people:

  • Save for the future.
  • Consider both short-term and long-term benefits and potential problems before making decisions. In other words, they weigh the pros and cons of a decision.
  • Resist impulsive decisions, focusing instead on long-term goals.
  • Think about life choices in a way that is deliberate, reflective and practical.
  • Coordinate their various goals and interests in ways that create a stable coherent approach to life. Many of their goals and interests involve relationships with others.
  • Live their lives deliberately, purposefully, and thoughtfully, not simply reacting to whatever happens.
  • Are as spontaneous and live life as zestfully as anyone.

According to psychologist Ben Dean, PhD, prudence is not for wimps. Prudent people keep their promises to themselves and others. They take the risks necessary to meet their goals, dreams and commitments.

Your Inner strength Prudence Star TrekBenefits of Being Prudent

As mentioned above, a prudent person is not timid and afraid to make decisions. In fact, prudent people are intelligent and optimistic. In addition, prudence leads to:

  • Better physical and mental health because prudent people manage their stress more effectively.
  • High job performance and school achievement due to preparation and focused effort.
  • Better cooperation, interpersonal relationships, insights and cooperation.
  • Discretion and tack because prudent people tend to think before they speak.
  • A balanced life in which the person:
    • Creates a safe space where they can be spontaneous.
    • Recognizes the variety and richness of life that allows them to remember things accurately; learn from their experiences; and seek the skills of others when needed.
    • Can quickly and accurately evaluate a situation taking all relevant circumstances into consideration.
    • Take steps to cut risk.

Building Prudence

My friend Ernest is a psychiatric social worker who often tells his clients: There is no such thing as a bad experience if you learn something from it. This is prudence in action. It is also an important first step in developing prudence.

  • Learn from your mistakes. When you make a mistake, conduct a self-debrief: Ask yourself:
    • What was my perception  of the situation or what was expected of me?
    • Did I have the necessary skills and experience?
    • What were my options for action/non-action in this situation? What control did I have in the situation?
    • What did I do or say that was a mistake?
    • What can I learn from this mistake and how will I apply that lesson in the future?
  • Lean from the mistakes of others. Conduct the same analysis you do for your own

    Your Inner Strength Prudence Lacking

    What happens when prudence (common sense) is lacking…

    mistakes to identify and apply the learning opportunities.

  • In any situation, consider your perspective. Are you reacting based on emotion or responding based on facts and evidence. Remember, this is the power of choice and it is an important skill for developing prudence.
  • Keep your long-term goals in mind when making short-term decisions.
  • Before making a decision, think about it for a while. As yourself: Am I willing to live with the consequence of this decision for an hour, a day, a month, a year?
  • Plan for the future – make contingency plans using the if/then approach. For example, if I want to spend money on a weekend trip to San Francisco, I will not have enough money for my next painting class. To learn more about contingency planning click here, then scroll down to the Applying Your Will to Act section, item #4.
  • Consult your significant other or a trusted friend for advice and remove all needless distractions before making important decisions.
  • Make important decisions when relaxed and rested, not stressed, angry, worried, tired or depressed.
  • Before speaking, take a breath and think twice. Do this at least two or three times a day and note the results.
  • When pressured by someone to make a quick decision, say something like give me a moment to think about this. Then pause and think about the problem. By the way, one moment is 90 seconds long.
  • When starting a new task or project, check as often as necessary to make sure you have all the correct information and details.
  • Drive carefully and notice how few time-based emergencies you actually have.

Your Inner StrengthsL: Prudence Decision making

Use prudence when making decisions.

Your Prudence Challenge

Prudence is foresight and farsightedness. It’s the ability to make immediate decisions on the basis of their longer-range effects.  ~ John Ortberg

  1. Use My Prudence Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and grow your prudence inner strength.
  2. Share you experience with us in the Response section below.

 Consider this …

Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken.~ Pope Benedict XVI

Riddle Me This…

Q: Why did the belt go to jail?
A: Because it held up a pair of pants! 

References

Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. (2004) Character Strengths and Virtues, Oxford University Press, NY

Hariman, Robert (2003). Prudence: Classical Virtue, Postmodern Practice. The Pennsylvania State University Press.

 

Images

Noodle on This: Patience

Noodle* on this…Dog watching a skunk eat its food an example of patience and wisdom in well-being

Patience is the companion of wisdom. ~ St. Augustine

Patience is not about how long you wait, but how you behave while waiting. ~ Anonymous

This dog has learned patience and wisdom. Have you? How do you behave while you are waiting?

Read more about how to Practice Patience.

To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Seniors

Your Inner Strength: Wisdom

Gain Wisdom

Your Inner Strength: Wisdom Building wisdom is like panning for gold

Developing wisdom is like panning for gold. It requires work and persistence.

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold and to get understanding rather than silver! ~ Proverbs 16:16

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~ Confucius

Today, more than ever, we need wise people. We live in a constant 24/7 information overload with 24-hour news cycles, instant messaging, cell phones and a plethora of electronic devices. According to technology analysts at Northeastern University, the world produced an average of 2.5 Exabytes of data every day in 2016. One Exabyte equals one billion gigabytes.

Your Inner Strength: ExabyteHow can we be expected to sort through this constant flood of information and find the bits and pieces we need to answer questions in our lives, find  resources or to make good decisions?  This is where wisdom comes in. It helps us find those nuggets of gold and leave the rest alone.

What is Wisdom?
This question has been debated since at least 3000 BC and still people cannot agree on a basic definition.  Ask three people to define wisdom without looking it up on-line or in a dictionary.  You’ll get three different definitions. The interesting thing is that those same three people will tell you “I know wisdom when I see it.” In other words, wise people stand out.

It is easier to describe wisdom than to define it. Many psychologists agree that wisdom requires intelligence, experience, perspective, good judgment, adaptability and problem-solving skills (1). A wise person understands the nature of people, events and things and, based on experience, can predict behaviors and events.

Psychologist Ben Dean, Ph.D. describes wisdom as the product of coordination of knowledge and experience to improve well-being. Psychologist and researcher Paul Blates, Ph.D. defines as expert knowledge concerning the fundamental pragmatics of life. The pragmatics of life include knowledge – both facts and procedures; life experience; awareness of and respect for values; and the ability to live with uncertainty. According to Professor Blates, these pragmatics offer the ways and means of planning, managing, and understanding a good life – well-being.

In simpler terms, wisdom is a result of:

  • Age;
  • Education;
  • The ability to learn from our experiences and apply that knowledge;
  • Problem solving ability; and,
  • Accepting that we don’t know it all and we are not perfect.

Often, it is easier to understand the nature and scope of wisdom by viewing it through the Your Inner Strength: Maya Angelou, the Dali Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa are examples of wise peopleperspective of people renowned for their wisdom. For example:

  • Spiritual and religious leaders such as Jesus, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, the Prophet Mohammad.  
  • Statesmen and stateswomen like Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Nelson Mandela
  • Present day leaders and thinkers, such as the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Norm Chomsky, and Mother Theresa

Why develop wisdom?
Why should you care about being wise? According to Albert Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them. In addition, the Book of Proverbs in the Bible gives a more practical reason. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:28)

Wise people have the following characteristics that tend to make them more accomplished in the art of living. Specifically, they:

  • Are lifelong learners, constantly exploring and asking questions.
  • Are disciplined and tend to look at things with a long-term perspective, which means they are patient.
  • Readily admit their mistakes and learn from them.
  • Know that the only thing they can control is themselves.
  • Have their priorities in order, placing family and relationships at the top of the list.
  • Take calculated risks if they do not hurt themselves or others.
  • Show empathy, gratitude, kindness and respect toward others.
  • Are driven by their values and integrity.
  • Tolerate uncertainty.
  • Know what is most important in life and how to get it.
  • Balance their own interests with those of others, such as their family, friends, employer and community.

Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. ~ Proverbs 4:7

Your Inner Strength: Wisdom Pearl and shell

Wisdom is a pearl of great value. Wisdom is never just a matter of words. It’s embodied insight, lived discernment, and really more like love than knowledge. ~Tom Morris

What are the benefits of being wise?
Professor and cognitive scientist John Vervaeke Ph.D. at the University of Toronto reports that a wise person:

  • Is more likely to overcome feelings of helplessness, powerlessness and aggression because they understand what is going on around them and manage difficult or complex situations more effectively.(2)
  • Understand the behavior and nature of the people around them and can predict outcomes based on that knowledge.
  • Helps others by sharing their wisdom; asking questions; or making suggestion that have positive impacts on those involved.
  • Age well. According to several studies, wisdom is more robustly linked to the well-being of older people than objective life circumstances, such as physical health, financial well-being, and physical environment.

Your Innter Strength: Wisdom represented by book and treeHow do you develop wisdom?

Developing wisdom is an ongoing process and it can also be fun. But it takes courage. Here are some suggestions:

  • Step out of your comfort zone and try new things. For example, if you are a movie fan, try going to a play instead. If you like country music, try listening to jazz, Join a Meetup Group to meet people or try new things.
  • Ask questions. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask. People like to share their knowledge and experience with others. Give them the opportunity to share it with you.
  • Talk to people you don’t know very well like the co-worker who sits across the office or a neighbor who just moved in down the street. Ask about their family, hobbies, pets, and interests. Talk about the weather. Even here in sunny San Diego, CA, people love to talk about the weather.
  • Keep learning. Sign up for a class at the community college or the community center. Take a class on-line or watch Ted Talks.
  • Read books, magazines, and newspapers. Reading helps you understand different points of view. Read both the pros and cons of an issue.
  • Contemplate the wisdom of the ages. Read the works of great thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, the Buddha, Nelson Mandela, and Viktor Frankl.
  • Read the classic in literature, such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Tenant of Willdfell Hall. For a detailed list of classic fiction, check out Good Reads Considered Classic Books.
  • Think of the wisest person you know. How would that person act in a specific situation, such as a conflict with a family member or friend?
  • Volunteer at a nursing home and get to know the residents. Ask about their lives and the lessons they learned.

Finally:

  • Ask for help.
  • Admit when you don’t know something.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Live your values.
  • Think before acting.

Your Inner Strength: Wisdom. Oak tree represents wisdomYour Wisdom Inner Strength Challenge

Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground. ~ David Icke

What will you do to become a mighty oak tree of wisdom?  To help you answer this question:

  1. Use My Wisdom Inner Strength Development Plan to help you think through; develop a plan and grow your wisdom.
  2. Share you experience with us in the Reply section below.

Consider this…

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. ~ The Serenity Prayer

Riddle me this…

Q. What do you call an alligator in a vest?
A. An investigator.

References

  1. Brown, S. C.; Greene, J. A. (2006). “The Wisdom Development Scale: Translating the conceptual to the concrete” (PDF). Journal of College Student Development. 47: 1–19. doi:1353/csd.2006.0002.[20
  2. Vervaeke, John. “The Cognitive Science of Wisdom”. Mind Matters Conference. February 2013

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