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.

Stories of Transformation (April 12, May 10 2021) Topics Include:

Stories of Transformation with Renée Hutcherson Lucier : In these frank stories of personal experiences that present challenges that are beyond what many of us face, we discover how character strengths can help us through the darkest of times.

Stories of Transformation with Marjorie Aunos : Explore and explain how character strengths have helped us to navigate life's challenges by hearing others' personal experiences.

Strengths Spotting (March 29, 2021) Topics Include:

Spotting and Plotting Strengths: Explore the character strengths you used today, see strengths in someone else's story and set a strengths intention for the next 7 days.

Community Asks with Dr Ryan Niemiec (March 15, 2021) Topics Include:

Community Asks - Your Questions Answered: Once a month we open the floor to the UIS attendees to ask the questions you want answered about character strengths and mindfulness.

Mindfulness (February 22, March 8 2021) Topics Include:

Five Facets of Mindfulness: Dr. Ryan Niemiec discusses the five facets (skills) of mindfulness - Observe, describe, act with awareness, non-judgment and non-reactivity. These can be measured using a tool that is now available through VIA with thanks to Dr. Ruth Baer.

Special guest Dr. Ruth Baer: Dr Ruth Baer is on the forefront of mindfulness and VIA is excited to share her research on the Five Mindfulness Skills - Observe, Describe, Act with Awareness, Non-judgment, Non-reactivity - through the new Mindfulness Assessment. In this session Ruth explores Mindfulness with Dr Ryan Niemiec in a very human and accessible way.

Exploring Strengths (February 8, 2021) Topics Include:

Exploring strengths and weaknesses with Dr. Tayyab Rashid: Dr. Tayyab Rashid discusses his work using strengths in psychotherapy. He highlights people's innate negativity bias in that negative news, negative feedback and negative interactions have a longer impact on people's psychological self. He explores ways practitioners can work with clients to counteract this bias.

Tribute to Larry King (January 25, 2021) Topics Include:

Ryan Niemiec experiences with Larry King: Join Ryan Niemiec as he explores ways of using character strengths in times of stress. Ryan reflects on his experience of being interviewed by Larry King in 2020! A privilege that he looks back on with pleasure AND in recognition of character strengths!

Dr. Goali Saedi Bocci: Dr. Goali Saedi Bocci joins Dr. Ryan Niemiec for a discussion on families and stress. The two authors came together in 2020 to create the Positivity Workbook for Teens.

2020 in Review (December 14 - 28th, 2020) Topics Include:

Eight Practices to Carry Us Forward: As we come toward the end of the 2020 United in Strengths series, Dr Ryan Niemiec reviewed some of the rich content from the year and recapped 8 practices to help us navigate these challenging times. With two sessions to go this year. It is our pleasure to continue to support you!

Celebrating Year of Character Strengths: Join Ruth Pearce as she looks back over 2020 and meditates on the 24 character strengths in a year that tested them all!

Practicing Strengths (November 9, November 23, November 30, December 21 2020) Topics Include:

Kindness: Dr Ryan Niemiec discusses ways in which we can engage more kindness. Thank you to one of our participants for offering the quote "In a world where you can be anything, be kind". Learn the difference between kindness and love, and explore ways that YOU can express kindness to others and to yourself.

Gratitude: Dr Ryan Niemiec leads the group through an exploration of gratitude - how it helps enhance well-being, how it builds a more positive outlook, how we give and receive gratitude to others. Who are you grateful for? The session includes a gratitude meditation that is also available separately.

Importance of Character Strengths with Dr. Donna Mayerson: Hear VIA Institute on Character's Advisor of Applied Practice, Donna Mayerson, as she explores the importance of character strengths in every part of life. Consider how we can use our strengths to "be" and not always just to "do". Learn about Donna's experiences with the Innocence Project and people subjected to human trafficking. And hear her personal experiences of bringing her strengths forward.

Teamwork with Ruth Pearce: What do character strengths tell us about teams? Which strengths are the most important? How does the specific strength of teamwork support a team? Find out with this review of the teams and teamwork with Ruth Pearce.

Meditation with Dr. Ryan Niemiec (November 2, November 23 2020) Topics Include:

Tonglen Meditation: Join Ryan Niemiec for an 8 minute Tonglen meditation. Breath in the stress, the strain and the pain and breath out compassion, caring, and kindness.

Gratitude Mediation: Take part in a wholehearted meditation on gratitude inspired by poet Mary Oliver - Thank you, Thank you.

Leveraging Character Strengths to Navigate Challenge (October 26, 2020) 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 ways to reframe issues/challenges from Kristin Neff and as well as other practical down-to-earth tips for managing stress.

Character Strength Alignment and Mindfulness (October 12, 2020) 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.

Community Asks (September 21, 2020, March 15th, 2021) Topics include

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

Community Asks #2: Once a month we open the floor to the UIS attendees to ask the questions you want answered about character strengths and mindfulness. Share your questions in person in the live session, by email or on our FaceBook page.

Strengths Spotting (September 7 - 28, 2020) 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.

Back to School (August 31, 2020) 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.

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable (July 27, 2020) 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.

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 13, 2020) 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 6, 2020) 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 (June 29, 2020) 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 (June 22, 2020) 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 15, 2020) 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 8, 2020) 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

Hope (June 1, 2020) 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

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness (May 25, 2020) Topics Include:

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

Peace (May 18 - May 22, 2020) 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.

Specific Character Strengths, Part 2 (May 11 - May 15, 2020) 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

Relationships (May 4 - May 8, 2020) 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?"

Meaning (April 27 - May 1, 2020) 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

Loving-Gratitude Practice (April 20 - April 24, 2020) 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”

Specific Character Strengths, Part 1 (April 13 - 17, 2020) 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

Stress Management (April 6 - April 10, 2020) 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”