What is Mindfulness?


Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Articles and Chapters

MBSP and Specific Populations

Discusses adaptations and applications of mindfulness and character strengths for teachers and parents designed to boost strengths-based thinking and positive beliefs in children, and builds from activities focused on moment-making, meaning-making, memory-making, and mindset-making (Lottman, Zawaly, & Niemiec, 2017).
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Lottman, T., Zawaly, S., & Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Well-being and well-doing: Bringing mindfulness and character strengths to the early childhood classroom and home. In C. Proctor (Ed.), Positive psychology interventions in practice (pp. 83-105). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.


Reviews the literature as well as practical implications of mindfulness and character strengths for gifted populations; offers several practical strategies teachers and professions can use with this population (Sharp, Niemiec, & Lawrence, 2016).
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Sharp, J. E., Niemiec, R. M., & Lawrence, C. (2016). Using mindfulness-based strengths practices with gifted populations. Gifted Education International. DOI: 10.1177/0261429416641009


Reviews the literature as well as practical implications of mindfulness and character strengths for gifted populations; offers several practical strategies teachers and professions can use with this population (Sharp, Niemiec, & Lawrence, 2016).

Niemiec, R. M. (2015). Mindfulness and character strengths: Advancing psychology to the next level. New Jersey Psychologist, 65(3), 22-24.



Offers theory, research, and practice in integrating mindfulness and character strengths in the training of physicians, medical staff, and medical students, with an emphasis on practical applications (Niemiec, 2014).
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Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP) for physicians: Integrating core areas to promote positive health. In M. W. Snyder, Positive health: Flourishing lives, well-being in doctors (pp. 247-263). Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press.


MBSP Theory

Introduces the concept of “heartfulness” into character strengths work arguing that mindful awareness of character strengths catalyzes our “being” in which we are called to act, but it is heartfulness, or the meaningful “doing,” that puts character strengths into action toward the common good (Niemiec, 2017).
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Niemiec, R. M. (2017). On heartfulness. In G. Slemp, M. A. White, & S. Murray (Eds.), Future directions in well-being: Education, organizations, and policy (pp. 123-128). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.


Theoretical article offer insights to the debate around whether the ethical and Buddhist foundations of mindfulness should be implicit or explicit in mindfulness-based programs and argues that the psychological science provides substantive options for researchers and clinicians. One example is mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP), which is described as the first program to use mindfulness to explicitly target what is best in human beings (Baer, 2015).

Baer, R. (2015). Ethics, values, virtues, and character strengths in mindfulness-based interventions: A psychological science perspective. Mindfulness, 6, 956–969. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0419-2


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.


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).
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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 and the “5 Mindfulness Trainings,” 16 character strengths interventions are suggested to enhance and support healthy, mindful living (Niemiec, 2012).
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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.


MBSP-related: Correlation Studies

Mindfulness and character strengths were found to work together to facilitate mental well-being. In particular, temperance and interpersonal character strengths explained the relationship between mindful observing and flourishing, and a longitudinal analysis found that the observing facet of mindfulness predicted temperance strengths which then predicted flourishing. The observing facet of mindfulness was positively related to interpersonal-, intellectual-, and temperance-related character strengths (Duan & Ho, 2017).

Duan, W., & Ho, S. M. Y. (2017). Does being mindful of your character strengths enhance psychological wellbeing? A longitudinal mediation analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI 10.1007/s10902-017-9864-z


Examines the empirical links between three of the most popular areas of positive psychology and offers practical interventions tailored to the three areas (Littman-Ovadia & Niemiec, 2017).
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Littman-Ovadia, H., & Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Meaning, mindfulness, and character strengths. In P. Russo-Netzer, S. E. Schulenberg, & A. Batthyany (Eds.), To thrive, to cope, to understand: Meaning in positive and existential psychology (pp. 383-405). New York: Springer.


Character strengths explained the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being, thus supporting the argument that mindfulness training can be offered to help participants increase awareness and use of character strengths (Duan, 2016).

Duan, W. (2016). Mediation role of individual strengths in dispositional mindfulness and mental health. Personality and Individual Differences, 99, 7–10.


Experimental data supporting the use of character strengths (signature strengths or non-signature strengths) for improving the well-being of individuals including those who are already mindful (Lykins, 2014).

Lykins, E. (2014). Mindfulness, character strengths, and well-being. Presentation at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, Texas. DOI: 10.1037/e578192014-915


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.


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 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.


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.


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.



A small correlational study in Holland with 43 subjects found that mindfulness was related to higher levels of strength use; in addition, not only were both character strengths and mindfulness (especially observing, describing, and accepting dimensions of mindfulness) positively correlated and independently linked with life satisfaction, but that mindfulness accounted for 24% of the variance in strength use (Alberts, 2015).

Alberts, H. (2017). Personal communication. Manuscript in preparation.


MBSP - Pilot Studies, Controlled Studies, Case Studies

A controlled study compared the effectiveness of MBSP against MBSR and a waitlist control group across a number of variables such as perceived stress, well-being, job satisfaction, and supervisory-rating task performance. At the 3-month post-intervention mark, both MBSP and MBSR were equivocally superior to the control group in decreasing stress, increasing well-being, and increasing job satisfaction; results subsided prior to 6-month follow-up. In terms of increasing performance, MBSP was significantly higher than placebo after the intervention and one-month post-intervention, whereas MBSR showed no difference from placebo at any time point (Pang & Ruch, 2017).

Pang, D., & Ruch, W. (2017). Personal communication. March 31, 2017. Manuscript in preparation.


This pilot study demonstrated that using MBSP with a work crew at a work college enhanced well-being and significantly decreased both self-reported levels of anxiety and depression (Wingert, 2017).

Wingert, H. (2017). Personal communication, April 26, 2017. Manuscript in preparation.


This pilot study examined the effects of MBSP upon elements of flourishing among a group of 8 Mexican leaders. All elements of well-being improved following the program, with the largest change occurring for meaning, followed by positivity, achievements, positive relationships, engagement, and health, as well as large decreases in loneliness and negativity (Morales Cueto, 2017).

Morales Cueto, C. (2017). Personal communication, January 10, 2017. Unpublished study.


Pilot study of mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP), comparing it to a non-randomized control group and finding MBSP led to significant elevations in flourishing, life satisfaction, engagement, and signature strengths use (Ivtzan, Niemiec, & Briscoe, 2016).
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Ivtzan, I., Niemiec, R. M., & Briscoe, C. (2016). A study investigating the effects of Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) on wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 6(2), 1-13. doi:10.5502/ijw.v6i2.1


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, 2016).
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Niemiec, R. M., & Lissing, J. (2016) 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.


Reports 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.