You may have heard of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), but the latest approach that’s gaining more attention is Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice. So what is it, what are the benefits, and how is it different from other mindfulness-based approaches?
Mindfulness and character strengths are complementary
Mindfulness and character strengths can both be considered pathways to the character virtues of wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence as defined by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, the founders of positive psychology. They also share the same goal of enhancing the good in us and enabling us to use that good both in our interactions with others and in the way we view the world around us. Not only that, strengths practice can enhance mindfulness practice, and vice versa.
The struggle many people have with mindfulness
Even though mindfulness teachers tell us to not expect anything from our practice and to approach it with openness, acceptance, and curiosity, we may often practice when we feel the need to feel less stressed or anxious, or to avoid feelings of guilt that we might experience from missing a practice when we promised ourselves we’d do it daily.
Often, meditation and mindfulness is touted as something that people do to ‘fix’ something that’s wrong. Other mindfulness-based therapies use mindfulness to solve a problem. Maybe someone is stressed, anxious, depressed, or angry. But what it we approached our mindfulness practice from a strengths perspective, and focused on the positive, rather than the ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed?
The benefits of approaching mindfulness practice from a place of strength
- Mindfulness helps us to realise and use strengths like openness and curiosity, and to focus on the good attributes we already have, rather than the difficult thoughts and feelings that pervade our minds.
- Strengths practice can help us to continue to practice mindfulness even when it seems difficult or when troubling thoughts or emotions arise during our practice.
- Mindfulness helps us keep our attention on difficult thoughts and feelings and teaches us to hold them in non-judgemental awareness, and using a strengths approach can help us look at thoughts, feelings, and problems in a different and more positive way that we might not have thought of.
Mindfulness and strengths practice complement each other and help us grow as people. Together they help us discover the good inside of us that can be nurtured so that we can live a full, happy life and thrive.
Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills. For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail email@example.com