Wellbeing Articles 2014 & 2013
In the last newsletter article we asked you to consider what mental health means to you.
Perhaps many of you began with a deficit model, but quickly realised mental health is really about mental fitness and wellbeing. Like physical health, mental health is something we all have and it can range from good to poor and can change over time. Good mental health helps us form positive relationships with others, handle ups and downs, and generally enjoy life. With good mental health, children can feel confident and be more open to trying and learning new things.
‘Kids Matter Primary’ is an Australian initiative that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of primary school children. East Bentleigh Primary School is currently in the process of becoming a ‘Kids Matter’ school. Kids Matter has got great pedigree; it’s supported by the Australian Government, Beyond Blue, The Australian Psychological Society and Principals Australia.
The ‘Kids Matter’ initiative provides proven methods, tools and support to help schools, families and the wider community nurture happy balanced kids. ‘Kids Matter’ schools begin with a two to three year journey to support students’ mental health and wellbeing.
There are four key area core components that schools focus on.
Component One is about promoting a school community that’s positive and inclusive of all members.
Component Two looks at the best ways of teaching social and emotional skills to all students.
Component Three is about schools and families working together to support children.
Component Four is about helping children with mental health difficulties.
“Kids Matter is a really useful conceptual framework to help schools do better at the things they care about doing in the first place, which is optimizing children’s learning and their wellbeing.”
Associate Professor Helen Cahill
Deputy Director Youth Research Centre and Associate Professor in Student Wellbeing
(Graduate School of Education), University of Melbourne
‘Kids Matter’ schools recognise they can’t do this work alone and that working with families, health and community agencies will lead to the best outcomes for children.
To help us get started we need to collect some baseline data about our school. ‘Kids Matter’ has provided a parent survey to help us do this. We really need you to do this on-line so that ‘Kids Matter’ can aggregate the data for us.
Next week at teacher interviews we will be providing you with a link to enable you to participate. It will take approximately ten minutes of your time and will provide us with valuable information to help us begin our Kids Matter journey.
For more information about the Kids Matter initiative, please visit the Kids Matter website at www.kidsmatter.edu.au
Lee Jellis - Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on June 19, 2014
How Many Of Us Think Of A Deficit Model When We Think Of Mental Health?
Stress, depression, medication, darkness, breakdown, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, psychologists, psychiatrists, the list goes on.
What Comes To Mind When We Think Of Physical Health?
Almost everyone has a positive model when it comes to physical health.
Exercise, gym, healthy eating and nutrition, good sleep patterns, good hygiene.
Have the conversation at your house. Talk to your partner, your children, your neighbours, your friends. What model do they use when defining mental health?
Someone mentioned to me the other day that stressed spelt backwards was desserts. Who doesn’t enjoy dessert? Add a little dessert to each and every day and teach your children to as well. It’s good for our mental health. Here are some examples of what you might do:
* Get up earlier each morning and reflect, meditate, or just sit quietly
* Make time to be with friends who are supportive
* Eat healthy food and fill your body with nutrients
* Watch a funny movie, or watch something you know will help you smile Laugh…heartily
* Be mindful of nature and the changes around you. Just notice what’s happening in your garden at the moment.
* Make time to notice the little things.
* Surround yourself with positive and affirming people.
* Give someone a compliment
* Get involved with a cause you believe in
* Take a dance class
* Go to bed earlier
* Reminisce about good times
* Ask for help
* Help someone else
* Go for a walk with a friend
* Practice stretching, yoga or relaxation skills.
* Breathe deeply
“No one can change a bad beginning, but anyone can start now and create a successful ending.” Aishwarya Singh
Lee Jellis - Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on June 5, 2014
Positive psychology asserts that our thinking is an important factor contributing to our emotional wellbeing. Consciously recognising our emotional states is the precondition to improving them. ‘Awareness,’ they say, ‘is the first step toward change and better problem solving.’
Over the next few weeks, when we notice an unhelpful thought, see if we can test it. Challenge it by asking ourselves: Is there any evidence that supports this thought? Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought? What would I say to a friend having this thought in a similar situation? What are the costs and benefits of thinking this way? How will I feel in six months time? Is there another way of looking at this situation?
(For more on challenging unhelpful thoughts click here)
Teaching kids to use evidenced based thinking can also help them deal with ‘unhelpful’ thoughts. Similar strategies include, looking for evidence and cross checking with others to get a second opinion and thinking about what you would say to a friend having similar thoughts. Understanding and acknowledging that how you think affects how you feel, helps children see that they have the power to affect their feelings.
Below is a simple example of a ‘Thought Detective’ activity we can use, to help children challenge unhelpful thinking.
Situation – I made a mistake
Feeling – I’m stupid
Supporting Evidence – It’s not the first time I’ve made a mistake.
Non-supporting evidence – I did well in my maths activity. I’ve seen lots of people make mistakes and I don’t think they’re stupid. My teacher says we often learn best from our mistakes
What I would say to a friend – I think you are good at maths and art, so do others. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes help us learn.
Better thought – Although I made a mistake, I can learn from it and help others who are making the same mistake.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world… Buddha
How Full Is Your Bucket from Prep A
Prep, while massaging the shoulders of other preps, “I’m filling everyone’s buckets!”
Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on May 8, 2014
Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went there?
Have you ever waited for information and when it finally comes you somehow miss it?
Have you ever driven somewhere and not remembered the journey.
Ever read a few pages of text and can’t remember a single thing you’ve read?
If you have experienced any of the above then you already know what it means not to be mindful; to miss moments in our lives that we can never get back.
Mindfulness is simply the art of paying attention.
When we are mindful we know where our attention is and can choose where we direct it.
It’s a powerful way to live.
When we are paying attention to the present moment rather than being distracted by a past we can’t change, or a future of possibilities, we taste our food more, work more efficiently, move more safely, and notice more; about ourselves, each other and our environment. We connect to our own lives and the lives of those around us.
In mindfulness practice, our attention is naturally grounded in the present moment if we simply tune into our senses. We can use any of our senses to help us focus on the present moment.
The following are activities we can do with our children to increase our own and our children’s ability to remain mindful.
Take them outside, get them to close their eyes, place different objects in their hands and ask them to describe and name the object using only touch.
Move slowly and ask them to mirror your movements, then change roles.
Find a clear glass vase and fill with water. Get the children to put in a few drops of food dye, first one colour then gradually add new colours. Silently watch what happens to the food drops in the water.
Do blind taste tests with a variety of foods, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit. Use different brands of the same food item and match.
Investigate one food item, such as a raisin, or a cranberry, using all of the senses, (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), as if you have never experienced it before.
Listen to a piece of music and try to hear a particular instrument. Try to name all the instruments you can hear. Classical is good for this.
Play Chinese whispers
Teach yourself to juggle. I have it on good authority that it’s good to begin with scarves, but I’ve yet to master more than two)
Throw and catch a ball to each other at the same time.
The mind is fickle and flighty, it flies after fancies whenever it likes: it is indeed difficult to restrain. But it is a great good to control the mind; a mind controlled is a source of great joy…
Dhammapada from the Buddhist tradition
Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on April 24, 2014
How Do You Feel When Your Bucket Is Full?
When your bucket is full, you feel more confident, secure, calm, patient, and friendly. Your thoughts are positive and you expect good results. When your bucket is overflowing, you experience a happiness that can spread to those around you. This is the 'ripple effect' of a full bucket.
How Do You Feel When Your Bucket Is Empty?
When your bucket is empty, it contains few positive thoughts or feelings. When your bucket is empty you can easily become sad, negative, insecure, nervous, angry, depressed, stressed, worried, afraid, or physically ill. An empty bucket can affect your behavior and cause you to express your emotions in a way that empties the buckets of those around you.
What Affects The Level Of Happiness In Your Bucket?
Negative life events or the careless, or even cruel words and behavior of others. Your own self-talk and thoughts can dramatically reduce or raise the level of happiness in your bucket. When your thoughts are positive and healthy, your bucket levels will reflect it.
What Is Bucket Filling?
Actions or words that show that you care about someone, saying or doing something kind, giving someone a heartfelt smile, using names with respect, helping without being asked, giving sincere compliments, showing respect to others. There are hundreds of wonderful ways to fill buckets. Your own bucket will be filled when, at the close of each day, you reflect on the ways in which you have filled buckets of others.
What Is Bucket Dipping?
These actions may be intentional or unintentional, the result, in regards to someone’s bucket is the same. Making fun of some-one, saying or doing unkind things, refusing to help, failing to show respect, blaming others, deliberately hurting someone, or harassing another. These are just a few of the ways in which it's possible to dip into another's bucket.
What Does 'Use Your Lid' Mean?
Because your bucket represents your emotional and mental health, it is extremely important that you learn to protect the good thoughts and feelings you've collected. The 'lid' represents a mental shield against anything that would dip into your bucket. When you consciously train yourself to stop and think through a situation as soon as you feel the hurt, pain, or anger from a painful, embarrassing, or otherwise unpleasant situation you will be able to prevent your bucket from being dipped. As you practice using your lid, you will build the necessary resilience to work through life's challenges.
This week with your children:
Use the information from the newsletters to explain the concept of ‘How Full is Your Bucket.’
Use the language of dipping and filling and catch each other out filling buckets.
Give them the special task of finding a way to fill a specific persons bucket. It may be someone at home, at school, or in the wider community.
“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.” Bradley Millar
Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on March 27, 2014
How full is your bucket is a theory developed from the lifelong work of Don Clifton Ph.D. and contains the most compelling discoveries he gathered in over half a century of work in his field of Positive Psychology.
Early in his research Don discovered that our lives are shaped by our interactions with others. Whether we have a long conversation with a friend or simply place an order at a restaurant, every interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative. Although we may take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives.
The Theory Of The Dipper And The Bucket
Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.
Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket, but when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves.
According to the theory, the key to great bucket filling is that “Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific and deserved.” The point is everyone’s bucket is filled (and diminished) in different ways. What fills my bucket will not necessarily fill yours. Try finding our what fills the buckets of your friends, family and colleagues. The bucket interview below may be helpful.
The Bucket Filling Interview
1. By which name do you prefer to be called?
2. What are your ‘hot buttons,’ hobbies or interests that you like to talk about a lot?
3. What increases your positive emotions, or ‘fills your bucket’ the most?
4. From whom do you most like to receive recognition or praise?
5. What type of praise, or recognition do you like best? Do you like public, private,
written, verbal, or other kinds of recognition?
6. What form of recognition motivates you the most? Do you like gift certificates, a
meaningful note of email, or something else?
7. What is the greatest recognition you have ever received?
“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” Winnie the Pooh
Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on March 13, 2014
A core goal of positive education is to help students anticipate, initiate, experience, prolong, and build positive emotional experiences. It is believed that helping young people to live lives abundant in positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, hope, pride, love, awe, and inspiration is a worthy goal in itself. In addition, recent research has found that experiencing positive emotions has benefits for mental and physical health, social relationships, and academic outcomes (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).
However, when applying the model of positive education, it is important to encourage individuals to cultivate and enhance positive emotions without avoiding, suppressing, or denying negative reactions or emotions. An overarching objective is to help students understand that all emotions are normal, valid, and important parts of life.
As positive emotions are fleeting in nature, the key is not to grasp positive states too tightly, but to increase the frequency of positive emotions throughout daily life (Fredrickson, 2009).
One particular strategy that has been researched and explored as a successful strategy in increasing the frequency of positive emotions is gratitude.
There are several reasons why gratitude may effectively enhance positive emotions and wellbeing:
Gratitude is believed to encourage the savouring of positive experiences, thereby maximising the satisfaction that is derived from the (Froh, Kashdan, Ozimkowski, & Miller, 2009).
Gratitude may direct attention to positive experiences and combat the negativity bias.
Individuals with a grateful disposition have been found to be less focused on materialistic pursuits and more satisfied with what they already have than less grateful people (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, & Wilson, 2011; Polak & McCullough, 2006).
Furthermore, gratitude has been found to play an important role in relationship formation, development, and enhancement (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008).
Try keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ for 14 days. Each day write down three things that you are thankful for. (This activity may also be called ‘Three Good Things, or ‘What Went Well.’)
Write a heartfelt letter to someone to whom you feel really grateful. Be specific about what you are thankful for. Visit this person if possible and read your letter to them face to face. If this is not possible read it over the phone, or send it to them.
Examples of ‘Three Good Things’ from our classrooms
Harry - Class 1J
When I got up this morning my brother cuddled me.
I liked playing with my friends at playtime and lunchtime.
After school I got to play soccer with my friends.
Nahuel - Class 1J
I played chasey and I caught the girls.
I got a raffle ticket at playtime.
I played on the play equipment after school.
"Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur everyday, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom." Benjamin Franklin
Lee Jellis Wellbeing Co-ordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on February 27, 2014
Welcome to the 2014 school year and a particularly warm welcome to all our new families. I have just returned from our school barbecue and it was heartwarming to see parents, staff and children, old and new, enjoying a fabulous get-together on a perfect Summer evening.
Over the last few years the profile of Student Wellbeing has been raised significantly across the school due to the exciting things that have been introduced for the benefit and wellbeing of your child/ren. We look forward to continuing these great things in the year ahead!
The restorative approach is based on the belief that the people best placed to resolve a conflict or a problem are the people directly involved, and that imposed solutions are less effective, less educative and possibly less likely to be honoured. The ultimate aim of this approach is to build a strong, mutually respectful, safe and inclusive school community in which everyone feels valued and heard.
During term one, classes will be discussing, sharing experiences, role-playing and listening to stories based on this approach.
A repeat session of last year’s restorative practice information night will be held later in the term, for those parents who were unable to make the last one. Date to be advised.
Positive Education is a strand of Positive Psychology. While mainstream psychology often focuses on people who already suffer from mental health issues, Positive Education aims to proactively increase mental resilience and wellbeing.
“There is substantial evidence from well controlled studies, that skills that increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement and meaning can be taught to schoolchildren.”
Seligman et al, Positive Education: Positive Psychology and Classroom Interventions
In its infancy at East Bentleigh Primary School, teachers are continuing their professional learning in positive psy-chology/education, with shared professional reading and follow up activities.
In classrooms, ‘What Went Well’ sharing helps children from prep to 6, focus on the positives in their day. Initially modelled by the teacher, children share three things that went well for them during the day.
We will also be building our positive psychology resources this year, including several resources for parents, which will be available through the family library system.
We hope you enjoyed our Positive Psychology tasks in last year’s newsletter. Look for new tasks in our up-coming newsletters in 2014.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Lee Jellis Wellbeing Co-ordinator
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on February 13, 2014
Each of our character strengths also has a shadow side. When used rigidly, regardless of context, at the wrong time, or perhaps with the wrong person, a trait that is generally a strength, can actually cause harm rather than good, bring sorrow, rather than any sense of well being, both to ourselves and others.
For example the character strength of judgement, which involves thinking things through, weighing everything up, as well as being able to change one’s mind, may become a burden if one can never arrive at, or stick to a decision. Likewise honesty can become rudeness when not combined with one of the temperance strengths. However for each shadow side, the antidote lies within a compatible strength, like courage combined with prudence, judgement combined with courage, or perhaps love combined with perspective.
This Week’s Activity
After reading the story below, find someone to discuss the following ideas with.
In the story below, each of the characters have strengths, including Harvard’s president.
Which strengths would you attribute to each character?
What might the shadow side to these strengths be?
What are the shadow strengths that may be behind the behaviour of the president?
What might the shadow side of my own top five be?
What other strength may provide me with an antidote.
We can use the table at the end of the story to help organise, or record our thinking.
The Gingham Dress
A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer office.
The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge.
'We'd like to see the president,' the man said softly.
'He'll be busy all day,' the secretary snapped.
'We'll wait,' the lady replied.
For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the President, even though it was a chore she always regretted.
'Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave,' she said to him!
He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office.
The President, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, 'We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.'
The president wasn't touched. He was shocked. 'Madam,' he said, gruffly, 'we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.'
'Oh, no,' the lady explained quickly. 'We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.'
The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, 'A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard.'
For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now.
The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don't we just start our own?”
Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, travelling to Palo Alto, California where they established the university that bears their name, Stanford University, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.
Strength | Shadow Side | Antidote
May we all continue to develop a greater awareness of our own strengths and the strengths of those around us. May we also be aware of the shadow side of our strengths and realise we already have the antidote to any shadows within us. We already have everything we need.
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on December 5, 2013
Strengths Under Stress – Mary Judd
(From the VIA character strengths website- www.viame.org)
As the writer for the VIA Story Project and a long time student of Positive Psychology, I often have Character Strengths on my mind. I speculate about the strengths of others while buying groceries. I’ll devise new ways to apply strengths when I’m having trouble falling asleep. But, it wasn’t until a recent health scare that I realized the true extent of my character strengths awareness, and how it has impacted my life.
I sat in my doctor’s office, hoping he’d OK my treatment, which was already delayed three weeks. My blood pressure had been extremely high due to recent stress. If I didn’t get the numbers down, the injection could prove to be unsafe. A delay in treatment, combined with heightened stress, could trigger a flare-up in my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). I needed the treatment. I needed to relax. I needed a miracle.
No newcomer to doctor office stress, I’d been dealing with RA for more than 25 years. This was my 85th treatment. Usually, I considered myself a master at finding the silver lining in a treatment room. But, this occasion proved to be an unusual challenge. In just a few days, I’d be unwillingly deposed in a nightmare lawsuit. I’d not been able to sleep and was having a hard time taking care of myself - prescriptions for ill health in the most “normal” of bodies.
The nurse and I exchanged worried looks. She needed to keep the treatments moving or she’d face a backlog of patients. I needed to calm down, open my veins, and welcome my medication.
After several deep breaths the nurse felt secure enough to “hook me up.” In went the needle and immediately I felt a whoosh in my chest that I’d never felt before … what was that?? I wondered. More fear set in. I forced another deep, slow breath. The whoosh was gone and in its place an absolute knowing that I was separate from my problems. My body needed my full attention, right now. Period. I had to calm down, and fast.
So, who am I – separate from my problems, my disease? It was one of those moments when I truly knew that I had to figure out how to control myself, my whole genuine Mary self, no matter what else was going on in “my life.”
There had been many times in the past that I had summoned my signature strengths to guide different situations – from writing assignments to family outings. This time, I reached for them like a child reaches for a mother’s hand. I needed immediate help. Could they “work” in a situation as tough as this? Could I use my strengths right now to lower my blood pressure, find clarity and calm?
I deliberately used my Appreciation of Beauty to find something beautiful to look at. I let my eyes settle on the smock of my nurse, bright fuchsia background with cheery green and yellow teacups and saucers scattered about. The colours felt good to my artistic soul and the playful design distracted my worried mind. “I like your smock,” I said and managed a smile. Her surprising giggle let me know I had made her feel good. This awareness pleased my Social Intelligence and Love. What else could I do?
I looked around the room and let my Curiosity roam. How had the nurses chosen the things they hung on the wall? Some had family photos; others had comics, calendars... One had a long folding poster of a pond in autumn. Soothing.
My love of learning was fed by an episode of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” I knew about half of the answers and learned from the ones I didn’t. The strengths distractions were working. I was feeling better.
Strengths As Sustenance...
Within an hour or so, my blood pressure was falling. Not to normal, but getting better. I closed my eyes and let Gratitude kick in. How fortunate I was to have medicine that helps my condition, to have people take my care seriously, people who have their own set of strengths that they rely on to do their jobs well.
My Curiosity wanted to join in. What might the strengths of these people be? Prudence and Caution --the nurse as she monitored my vital signs, gentle as she inserts and extracts the needle; Capacity to Love--the staff offering warmth, snacks and a kind ear when needed; Commitment and Loyalty--they show up each day; Kindness--I’ve received bags of tea, homemade cookies…. The more I thought about strengths, the more strength I observed around me.
Eventually, I was able to relax enough to enjoy reading my book.
I know, as does anyone who’s dealt with overwhelming stress, that this story, this shift may seem simple, and even go unobserved by others, but it is a deep shift that can alter our future. The difference between my state of mind and body when I first entered the office and how I felt when I went home was hugely affected by my self-imposed “strengths infusion.” What a powerful antidote to the stress infusion I’d been receiving!
Now, more than ever, when I take the time to apply my strengths, I’m deeply aware of how strong I am, in ways that have nothing to do with my physical body.
This Week’s Activity
This week try a character strengths infusion for yourself. If you find yourself feeling tired, impatient, annoyed, fearful, or in any other way stressed… Stop
Consider your own character strengths.
Think, how can I use one or more of my strengths in this moment to lighten my emotional load, distract myself, or reset my thinking?
The table below can be used to organise my thinking or record my experience.
Emotion | Strength Focussed On | Strength Behaviour | Result
Like a cup of tea, only stronger!!
Here’s to a successful strengths infusion for us all.
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on November 21, 2013
Last week, our whole school community, Positive Education activity involved identifying our signature strengths. We asked several of our friends or family to identify the strengths that ‘summed us up’ for them, from the list of 24 strengths provided. We also did this for ourselves and then took the VIA strengths test on the Authentic Happiness website.
If you haven’t yet done the VIA character strengths test, the website is www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/
Research in Positive Psychology suggests that there are (at least) 24 strengths and virtues that are recognized in most cultures. We all have all 24 strengths within us to varying degrees, however within this set we have a characteristic set of strengths and virtues; things that we are 'good' or 'strong' on. These are known as our signature strengths.
The VIA character strengths test identifies our top five strengths, however we may or may not feel they are our signature strengths. To be a signature strength, a strength will have the following hallmarks:
- A sense of ownership or authenticity (this is the real me)
- A feeling of excitement while displaying it, particularly initially
- A rapid learning curve as the strength is first consciously practised
- A sense of yearning to find new ways to use it
- A feeling of inevitability in using the strength (can’t help it)
- Invigoration or a sense of being energised while using it, rather than exhaustion
- The creation and pursuit of personal projects that revolve around it
- Joy, zest, enthusiasm, even ecstasy, while using it
Research in positive psychology has shown that we can get more satisfaction out of life, if we identify which of the character strengths we have in abundance and then use them as much as possible; in school, in hobbies and with family and friends.
Given that signature strengths feel natural, meaningful and energising, it makes sense that regularly looking for new ways to use them will enhance well being. While we can always be on the lookout for new ways to put our signature strengths into action, it can be valuable to intentionally devise new ways to use them. The new way may be in a new setting or with a new person.
Parent Information - Positive Education @ EBPS
This week’s activity involves planning new ways to use one of our signature strengths and following that through into action.
- Identify the signature strength we wish to work with.
- Brainstorm four new ways to use our chosen signature strength
- Create four designated times over the next two weeks in which to put our plan into action
- Notice how we feel when putting our signature strength into action
The following table might help in planning a meaningful, new way to use each character strength and to set a date to action each step.
Action Date | New way to use my signature strength
For example, if your chosen signature strength is curiosity you might
- Borrow a book from your local library on a topic that interests you,
- Seek out an expert on that topic and ask questions
- Do an internet search for related information
- Discuss your topic with another interested person
The VIA website also has a character strengths test designed for children. You may be interested to either, do this yourself with your child in mind or, if your child is old enough, have them complete the questions.
You may be interested in watching this short youtube video called, ‘Animal School.’ It can be found here. This video observes what happens when we focus too much on weaknesses and don’t include our strengths. It is very lovely, as well as insightful.
Look for the Positive Psychology exercise in our next newsletter!
Enjoy your strengths, enjoy the strengths within others, enjoy life!
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on November 7, 2013
There are the 24 character strengths that have been identified as universally valued across cultures and throughout history. All 24 strengths exist within each of us. Research has shown we can develop the strengths we value most.
Our task this week is to discover the strengths that come most naturally to us, often called our signature strengths.
Because they come so naturally to us, we often find it difficult to recognise them within ourselves. Bearing this in mind, we are going to call on friends and family to help identify our signature strengths.
The 24 Character Strengths are:
- Love of Learning
- Open mindedness/Judgement
- Capacity to love and be loved
- Social Intelligence/Friendship
- Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
- Humour &Playfulness
- Spirituality/Faith/Sense of Purpose
- Identify three people whose judgement you trust.
- Ask each one individually to read the 24 strengths listed and to choose five they believe ‘sum you up.’
- Now you choose the five you believe ‘sum you up.’
- Is there any strength chosen by all of you? Have friends and family identified any strength that surprises you?
- Next take the VIA strengths test. This is found on the Authentic Happiness website of Pennsylvania University.
- Look at your results, in particular your top five signature strengths. Were there any surprises? Are there any strengths in common with those chosen by friends/family, or yourself?
- Observe yourself over the next two weeks. Which strengths do you see yourself using? Which strengths do you use the most? Which strengths energise you when you use them? Which Strengths feel like the real you?
“Discover your strengths, turn them inside out and use them like you would your favourite coffee cup, or your most comfortable pair of shoes. Why not, these strengths are yours and you should be intentional in how you use them."
Written by East Bentleigh Primary School on October 24, 2013