I wonder what is important about Christmas, for you, dear reader? Is it something you have given much thought to, or are you swept along in the festive tide?
Research suggests that we can increase our happiness levels, and be happier for longer, if we use our character strengths. The VIA character survey is a great way of finding out what your top strengths are, and it is the one I recommend all the time. This is what they have to say about their organisation and the VIA Survey: “Established as non-profit organization in 2001, the VIA Institute on Character is a global leader in the science and practice of character. We are proud to offer the VIA Survey, the only free, online, scientifically validated survey of character strengths.”
I confess that I love Christmas, and I wondered how this linked in with my top five character strengths. So, I am connecting them together, to explore this a little further. I hope this will inspire you to think about your strengths, and how to use them this Christmas.
“Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.”
I have a faith and being part of a community with a sense of purpose beyond self is important to me. I can see how this links with a major Christian festival! Not everyone shares this, but there are key things about spirituality that can still be part of Christmas.
“Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share.”
Teamwork fits in well with how we celebrate Christmas as a family and with our friends. Our children make presents, and this usually requires our supervision or help, so we work together as a team. Meals and shared social time are another way we get together as a team.
3: Love of learning
“Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.”
Christmas is a time to step back from work and spend time with family and friends. This also allows extra ‘down-time’ and one of my favourite ways to spend this is by reading! Perfect! Hopefully, there may be a new book, or new stationery under the Christmas tree, so that I can keep notes on what I have learned, too.
“Doing favours and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.”
For me, this sums up the Christmas Spirit; this goes beyond family and friends, to the wider circles of my church family, and the charities I support. Two small examples: I make sure I buy Christmas cards from Oxfam, and sponsor a Christmas meal at Crisis.
“Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretence; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions.”
It has been said that we live in a ‘post-Christian’ society. However, a recent report said there are rising numbers of people who believe in a higher being, and church attendance once a month is on the increase.
Being authentic to my belief, especially at this time of year, is important to me. Christmas may be becoming increasingly about buying bigger, better, and getting further into debt and our society becoming increasingly fractured with people feeling more isolated.
But, if I am honest about my beliefs, valuing my family and friends, and spend the holidays learning new things, and being kind, then I can enjoy Christmas in a way that is authentic to myself and hopefully make life a little bit better for other people, too.