In a lighthearted way Dara Feldman teaches us how to replace shaming with naming virtues and how to recognize teachable moments in a gentle way.
When it comes to virtues, we typically think of courage, hope, acceptance, and so on. But did you know that Humor is considered a virtue too? It falls into the category of Transcendence, according to the VIA (Virtues in Action) Institute. Transcendence is all about making meaning out of the world. This may be why people who have been through traumatic events or deal with death and tragedy on a daily basis make jokes about it. Humor may be their way "transcending" these ordeals. Other virtues in this category include appreciation of beauty, gratitude, optimism and spirituality.
When I tell people I work with teenagers they typically respond with “ugh, that must be difficult.” This is a completely appropriate reply because teens really can be difficult to work with. They are going through a very important time in their life of changing physically, mentally, and emotionally. They see their body change, experience new and intense feelings, and are trying to figure out their place in the world. In order to go through this process their behaviors can be erratic and inconsistent, which makes it easy to identify their negative actions. We must not forget though how important it is to notice and acknowledge teens practicing virtues.
Understanding – “having clear insight into ideas and feelings…seeking[ing] to comprehend the full truth.”1 For the past week this has been the virtue we’ve practiced at our weekly Virtues Sharing Circle. I can’t say that my ability to understand has increased. However, I have learned about some of the things that block me from understanding.
Me. I block myself from understanding others. My ego, my feelings, my wants, my needs – these crowd out my desire to understand and I essentially create a wall that prevents me from enlarging my world view. How can I possibly understand you when all I’m thinking of is me? In order to understand others, I need to call on my Empathy and Compassion. Then I can put myself in your shoes and take the time to listen more deeply to what you are saying.
Board members of the Virtues Circle write our weekly blog, along with other guest bloggers.