If you can fool yourself, you can fool anyone – 3rd February 2020

I have all the character strengths I need at my disposal but there are some I need to practice more and improve.

Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.

I see myself on a journey where the destination is wisdom and contentment. My challenge is to acquire these attributes before I die. My default assumption is that everyone else is on the same journey whether they know it or not. Many have already met their challenge whilst others are still travelling. So I sometimes find myself being able to provide counsel for others and other times go in search of that counsel myself.

Social Intelligence: Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.

This is one I really need to practice more. I have gotten better at this since I was in my 20s but even now I just avoid social situations if I feel they don’t suit me. This is slightly compounded by being in Thailand where some situations may mean I’m the only English speaker or there may be myself and one other English speaker, almost forcing us to be socialable with one another. Then there are other times I may only be surrounded by other teachers, where our only connection is our profession and conversation devolves into complaining about our schools, which becomes unproductive and boring. Finally, there’s the rest of the ex-pat community who I generally remain suspicious of, mostly through negative experiences when around them previously. Well, I guess it’s a fertile ground for improvement at least. Must push myself. (Today I just want to shut down and sleep.)

Spirituality: 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 believe life ultimately has no meaning so we must give it our own meaning somehow. These days I am doing a lot of thinking around all these ideas but it is becoming time to put things into action (shaping my conduct).

I remember one time when I was working at the check outs in a supermarket and a regular customer I would chat with was contemplating out loud what the meaning of everything was, to which I responded that life is pointless. She readily agreed but we understood each other that this was a motivation for giving it meaning rather than giving up on it. I have definitely changed my view on this over the years. When I was younger, with lots of time ahead of me, I sometimes thought life was pointless so just gave up on trying to do anything. I’m questioning this statement even as I write when I consider all the many things I actually achieved during that time. But no matter, those negative thoughts were in my mind.

Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.

Sometimes I don’t give myself enough acknowledgement for doing this. I perhaps consider kindness as being normal so forget to account for it. But there are definitely other times when I think back to times when I could have been kinder and offered to help someone with something that they were doing, rather than concentrating on my personal tasks.

Teamwork: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share.

I wonder if this characteristic is an issue for most only-children? I’ve learned to rely and depend on myself, even more so having been raised by a single parent. I do prefer working alone but also happy to be part of a team so long as instruction is clear and meaningful. When part of a plan doesn’t make sense I just won’t do it. Perhaps I am sometimes thought of as cantakerous because I am not afraid to speak my mind. See next point!

Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

Me and my big mouth.

If you’re led around by your nose
You’ll never get to see how the garden grows.

Cool hidden cafe. On the edge of Burma.

I am sometimes good at doing these things but often get wrapped up in myself too much instead. Perhaps people who know me would be surprised at these choices; perhaps they would see me differently. That would be nice to know but ultimately there’s only me that has to live with my thoughts. Only me that can think, and then act, my way to improvement.

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