United In Strengths Archived Sessions | VIA Institute

These United in Strengths sessions are guided by our 3-word tagline: Breathe….Remember….Connect

  • Breathe: you can mindfully catch your breath throughout your day to stay focused and centered
  • Remember (your strengths): you have 24 character strengths to turn to for support, coping, and empowerment.
  • Connect: as social creatures, we should not “socially distance,” but discover new ways to connect with one another.

Stress Management (April 6 - April 10) Topics Include:

Stress Management: personal applications; self-care; mountain meditation

Stress Management and your family: parenting, close relationships; strengths-spotting; the mindful pause

Stress Management and the world: using humor; signature strengths use; meditation using the poem “The World Needs You”

Specific Character Strengths, Part 1 (April 13 - 17) Topics Include:

Curiosity: research on curiosity as an engagement and meaning strength; 3 types of curiosity; meditation: “Curious About You”

Social Intelligence: 4 general components of this strength; 2 levels – social awareness and social facility; link with empathy; strategy – “dealing with emotions,” strategy – “observing role models,” meditation on emotions

Appreciation of Beauty – Elevation: 3 types of beauty; research on this strength; awe; admiration; meditation on an inspiration video clip

Loving-Gratitude Practice (April 20 - April 24) Topics Include:

Loving-Gratitude for Yourself: turning character strengths inward; research on loving-kindness practice; loving-gratitude meditation focused on you

Loving-Gratitude for Your Family: turning character strengths outward; applying love and gratitude in your close relationship; loving-gratitude meditation focused on others

Loving-Gratitude for the World: directing goodness into the world with your strengths; meditation and strengths-spotting activity on the poem “The World Needs You”

Meaning (April 27 - May 1) Topics Include:

Sense of Meaning (personal): “Big M” Meaning vs. “little m” meaning; how to facilitate meaning for yourself; meditation - mental subtraction of a signature strength with reflection on personal meaning

Meaning and Grieving: mapping the 5 stages of grief and coronavirus experiences; addition of the 6th stage of grief – meaning; invitation to reflect on loss and meaning; meditation on meaning and strengths

Special Guest on Meaning – Itai Ivtzan, Ph.D.: meaning and psychological well-being; awareness as freedom; embracing brokenness; meaning and suffering; meditation/activity – meaning and coronavirus

Relationships (May 4 - May 8) Topics Include:

Relationship with Yourself: 5 phase relationship model; turning each strength phase inward; activity for each phase; meditation – “Being Present to You”

Special Guests on Close Relationships – Suzie Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP and James Pawelski, Ph.D.: using strengths in relationships; the dance of strengths; the giving and receiving of strengths; meditation – “Receiving Gratitude”

Relationships with Others: your teachers, mentors, role models, and paragons; link with character strengths; strength enablers; meditation – “Your Teacher/Role Model”

Living a Meaningful Life: Dr. Itai Ivtzan and Dr. Ryan Niemiec discuss the question, "What does it mean to live a meaningful life?"

Specific Character Strengths, Part 2 (May 11 - May 15) Topics Include:

Special Guest on Hope & Zest – Maria Sirois, Ph.D.: distinction and interplay of zest and hope; grieving and coping with strengths; 3 practical forms of self-care; meditation on loving-kindness for yourself

Gentleness: poem on gentleness; how gentleness is a compound character strength; research; how to learn gentleness; meditation – Gentleness in Your Body and Mind

Perspective: poem on perspective; interpersonal and intrapersonal use; research on boosting wisdom; key practices; meditation – Character Strengths Breathing Space

Peace (May 18 - May 22) Topics Include:

Peace, personal/inner: positive peace vs. negative peace; what causes you peace?; relationship with many character strengths – rationale and examples; meditation – Walking Meditation (Being Peace)

Peace, relational: refugee story/metaphor from Thich Nhat Hanh; family peace during COVID-19; character strengths as hot buttons; why hot buttons occur; meditation – Priming Strengths in Difficult Situations

Peace retreat – a ½-day retreat on character strengths and mindfulness: engagement in a variety of practices involving the use of both mindfulness and character strengths in daily life to facilitate inner and relational peace. Attended live by 827 people.

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness (May 25) Topics Include:

Mindfulness: 2 character strengths at the core of the scientific definition; differentiation from relaxation, savoring, and oneness; meditation – “Just Be”

Hope (June 1) Topics Include:

Special Guest on Hope - Dan Tomasulo, Ph.D.: what hope is and isn’t; how to use hope during COVID-19; learned hopefulness; making hope a habit; hope with challenges; hope with racial injustice; meditation – building hope in the brain

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable (June 8) Topics Include:

Humility & Honesty: character strengths and racism/anti-racism; importance of humility; building humility; humblebragging; Black lives matter vs. all lives matter; meditation – “Quieting the Ego.” Includes special comments made by character strengths coach – Sonya Tinsley-Hook; character strengths as anti-racism; comments on justice and protests; ideas for taking action

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (June 15th) Topics include:

Giving our feelings space: The Two-Door Approach to Our Mental Health: what it means to “sit with” feelings; how to give your feelings space; choices with anger; dialectical thinking and embracing opposing realities; meditation – The Mindful Pause; meditation – “Breathing With Feelings Relating to Racism”

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (June 22nd) Topics include:

Bravery: What it means to use bravery with a small “b” as opposed to Bravery with a big "B". Bravery is not the same as feeling no fear. Identifying ways to make bravery a priority and adjusting bravery day by day depending on our personal resources. Ruth with guest co-presenter Angela Carter-Lanon.

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (June 29th) Topics include:

The Virtue of Courage: Ruth Pearce and Angela-Carter Lanon expand the exploration from the strength of bravery to the entire virtue of courage - Bravery + Perseverance + Honesty + Zest. This multi-faceted virtue helps us overcome challenges to achieve goals. How will you engage courage? What is your “strongest” path to this virtue?

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (July 6th) Topics include:

Social Mindfulness: How do we take mindfulness beyond the solitary practice and into the world? Using mindfulness with community in mind. Breathe – Strengths - Connect

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (July 13th) Topics include:

Self-regulation: Dr Ryan Niemiec helps us to discover the pathways to self-regulation one of the most complicated strengths! Self-regulation/Self-control: overcoming self-regulation fatigue, identifying other strengths to boost and support self-regulation, celebrating small wins.

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (July 20th) Topics include:

Motivated by Underuse: In this session Dr Ryan Niemiec led us through and consideration of how strengths underuse gets in our way and how to overcome it. Evaluating our use of strengths across contexts, seeing how top strengths can support underused and lesser strengths, seeing the benefit of balance.

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (July 27th) Topics include:

The Community Speaks: Changing things around, Dr. Ryan Niemiec poses questions to the audience about character strengths. From "how do you explain them?" to "which strength will you use now?" the audience shares their collective wisdom on strengths. Everyone who appears on the video gave permission for the recording.

Back to School (August 31st) Topics include:

Special Guest Sarah Zawaly: As parents, teachers and children navigate this new world of school, Sarah Zawaly offers ways to engage with strengths and offers a meditation for us and our young family members.

Strengths Spotting (September 7th-28th) Topics include:

Strengths Spotting for Chadwick Boseman & Logan Coles: US holiday edition of UiS in which Ruth leads the group through a strengths spotting exercise using a letter from Logan Coles about the amazing Chadwick Boseman.

Professor Adam Clark explores MLK through CS: Professor Adam Clark joins Dr Ryan Niemiec to discuss the three faces of Martin Luther King Jr - the popular persona, the historic figure and the man as he lived. Explore his character strengths profile from the early part of his public career through the eyes of Professor Clark.

Community Asks (September 21st) Topics include

Community Asks #1: Questions about Character Strengths such as how often should you take the VIA Survey?

Character Strength Alignment and Mindfulness (October 12th) Topics include:

Special guest Masaya Okamoto: Join Dr Ryan Niemiec and special guest Masaya Okamoto to find out more about the integration of mindfulness and character strengths, the alignment of character strengths with multiple measures of wellbeing, and to enjoy a wonderful Universal Compassion

Leveraging Character Strengths to Navigate Challenge (October 26th) Topics Include:

Special Guest Jenny Brennan: Jenny Brennan MAPP joins Dr Ryan Niemiec to discuss leveraging character strengths to navigate challenge. She shares the three reframes from Kristin Neff and as well as other practical down to earth tips for managing stress.