Bloomington Update 2015: Focusing on Character Strengths
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Bloomington Update 2015: Focusing on Character Strengths

The following is a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

Bloomington_CharacterThis school year’s focus has been Character Strengths and Strength Based Learning.

Jim Walsh, our head advisor, introduced us to the topic last spring. He was inspired by Martin Seligman (considered to be the father of positive psychology) and Peter Christopher’s book, Character Strengths and Virtues. What Jim noticed is that, “where executive functioning skills classify and define all aspects of “doing”, character strengths guide us in “being.”

The authors suggest that each person is a unique combination of 24 character strengths and if we embrace and focus on the strengths we have, particularly the top 5, they will lead us towards more successful outcomes and well being. These ideas compliment and enhance our center’s positive thinking initiatives.

We encourage parents also to give it a try and share your thoughts with us: http://www.viacharacter.org/Survey/Account/Register.

We also used a short and very sweet video created by the VIA Institute on Character Strengths. Here are some reactions from students and staff:

  • “I want to create an environment that encourages a growth mindset…“
  • “I like the idea of thinking about how much energy we could generate at our center if we all focused on using our top character strengths…”

The video talked about “How do you want to be”. We responded:

  • “More focused…”
  • “Using my gift of humor to connect with people in a positive way”…
  • “More courageous to try new things…”
  • “More organized…”
  • “More aware and efficient in how I regulate my efforts…”
  • “More energetic physically as well as mentally…”
  • “I want to share my strength – appreciation of Love & Beauty with everyone at CIP by filling a blank wall with beautiful images”.

Building on this discussion we talked about Bio-hacking to improve our health, the idea that we can improve or upgrade parts of ourselves to develop more self-awareness, more self-regulation, and become more self-determined in the process.

Life hacking also fits how we want to be as a center:

  • Always exploring ways to improve keeping in mind that there is no one answer and what works for one person will not necessarily work for me;
  • Learning to be a good observer of myself and others;
  • Learning to record data about what I learn in a fact sheet, a journal, or a blog;
  • Sharing with a group creates a lot of positive energy;
  • Understanding that self-improvement is not only good for me but good for all those around me too.