Character Strengths And Mindfulness

Summary of Research Findings

Two popular areas of positive psychology that have captured the attention of researchers and practitioners (and the general public) are mindfulness and character strengths. Character strengths are a natural part of the operational definition of mindfulness and few would disagree that there is a mutual, synergistic effect between the two.

Research Articles

  • Reviews the integration of mindfulness and character strengths, offers three case studies applying Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) successfully in the business/organizational setting, and offers anecdotal support that MBSP boosts positive relationships and helps people manage problems (Niemiec & Lissing, 2015).
    Niemiec, R. M., &Lissing, J. (2015, in press) Mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP) for enhancing well-being, life purpose, and positive relationships. In I. Ivtzan & t. Lomas (Eds.), Mindfulness in positive psychology: The science of meditation and wellbeing. London: Routledge.
  • Initial pilot data and qualitative reviews of Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP), an 8-week program that integrates and builds character strengths and mindfulness, is beneficial in boosting well-being, signature strengths, engagement, purpose, and positive relationships (Niemiec, 2014).
    Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe.
  • Mindfulness helps to overcome blind spots in self-knowledge, such as the quality and quantity of information individuals have about themselves and how people process information about themselves (Carlson, 2013).
    Carlson, E. N. (2013). Overcoming the barriers to self-knowledge: Mindfulness as a path to seeing yourself as you really are. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8 (2), 173-186.
  • Increased amount of time spent using strengths has been found to correlate significantly with mindfulness (Jarden et al., 2012).
    Jarden, A., Jose, P., Kashdan, T., Simpson, O., McLachlan, K., & Mackenzie, A. (2012). [International Well-being Study]. Unpublished raw data.
  • The integration of mindfulness and character strengths creates a synergy of mutual benefit that can foster a virtuous circle in which mindful awareness boosts strengths use which, in turn, enlivens mindfulness (Niemiec, Rashid, & Spinella, 2012).
    Niemiec, R. M., Rashid, T., & Spinella, M. (2012). Strong mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness and character strengths. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34 (3), 240-253.
  • In examining principles of mindful living, 16 character strengths interventions are suggested to enhance and support healthy, mindful living (Niemiec, 2012).
    Niemiec, R. M. (2012). Mindful living: Character strengths interventions as pathways for the five mindfulness trainings. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2 (1), 22-33. 
  • Researchers have proposed the possibility that if everyone has signature strengths and if mindfulness can enhance their use then it’s possible mindfulness could be beneficial for most people (Baer & Lykins, 2011).
    Baer, R. A., & Lykins, E. L. M. (2011). Mindfulness and positive psychological functioning. In K. M. Sheldon, T. B. Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 335–348). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Mindfulness and curiosity each help to align individuals’ actual self (people’s beliefs about who they think they are) and their ideal self (the image people would like to be; Ivtzan, Gardner, & Smailova, 2011). This relates to the character strengths work of knowing one’s core self or identity.
    Ivtzan, Gardner, & Smailova (2011). Mindfulness meditation and curiosity: The contributing factors to wellbeing and the process of closing the self-discrepancy gap. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1 (3), 316-326.
  • Mindfulness provides exposure or a new perspective of one’s internal and external environments (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007).
    Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 211-237.
  • Mindfulness may facilitate successful self-regulation and self-regulation may facilitate greater mindfulness (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2007).
    Masicampo, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2007). Relating mindfulness and self-regulatory processes. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 255-258.
  • The two-part, operational definition for mindfulness by 11 leading scientists embodies two character strengths – mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance (Bishop et al., 2004).
    Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.

Updated 4/18/2016



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