Mindfulness and Character Strengths: Training #2 (True Happiness)
July 1, 2012 by Dr. Ryan Niemiec ·
Thich Nhat Hanh offers five mindfulness trainings that help individuals bring more depth, purpose and meaning into their lives.
Keep in mind:
- These are mindfulness trainings not mindfulness commandments. The idea is to move toward the training and to practice the training as an ongoing process, not something to be perfectly achieved.
- The practice of the mindfulness trainings is for everyone to enjoy.
- For a full description of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, click here.
This blog entry focuses on the second mindfulness training, called True Happiness. It begins:
- Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking and acting (Nhat Hanh & Cheung, 2010, p. 210).
- This training also encourages us to see a connection between our own happiness and suffering, and the happiness and suffering of others. It emphasizes a focus on generosity and understanding, with less of a focus on external conditions that are superficial in nature, such as fame, wealth and material possessions.
How might you use character strengths to practice this training?
- The simplest answer is: Give. Giving, being generous and volunteering are core components of the kindness character strength and when expressed have a positive impact on both the giver and the receiver.
- Be grateful. The research surrounding the benefits of expressing the strength of gratitude is mounting. Research shows that people who are grateful are often more communal, altruistic and less materialistic. Gratitude also engenders a deep sense of appreciation for what one already has in life.
- Teamwork and leadership: These two character strengths focus on justice and doing what is best for the larger group. Consider how these can play a role on a small scale with a small project in your life, and then shift the focus to a wider audience.
- For the full text of Ryan’s article called “Mindful Living” published in the International Journal of Well-Being, click here
- To learn more about mindfulness and Thich Nhat Hanh, click here
- For images of Thich Nhat Hanh from Touching Peace Photography, taken by mindfulness practitioner, Paul Davis, click here
- Nhat Hanh, T. (1993). For a future to be possible: Commentaries on the five mindfulness trainings. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
- Nhat Hanh, T. (2009). Happiness. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
- Nhat Hanh, T., & Cheung, L. (2010). Savor: Mindful eating, mindful life. New York: HarperCollins.
- Niemiec, R. (2012). Mindful living: Character strengths interventions as pathways for the five mindfulness trainings. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(1), 22–33.
- Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.