Mindfulness and Character Strengths

Use your character strengths to enhance your mindfulness. Use your mindfulness to bolster your character strengths. Use mindfulness-based strengths practice to thrive and flourish.

Mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP), developed by Ryan Niemiec (2013), is the first and only comprehensive mindfulness programme that – at its core – aims at enhancing positive aspects of our personality. Aligned with positive psychology principles, it employs mindfulness to enhance character strengths while building on character strengths to enhance mindfulness.

Pursuing this positive approach, it differs from the vast majority of secular mindfulness programmes, which are offered with the intention to reduce some unwanted experience. For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) aims to reduce stress, anxieties, and the limitations experienced due to chronic pain. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) aims to reduce the likelihood of a depressive relapse.

MBSP is quite different. It interweaves mindfulness and character strengths practice in a smart and practical way. The mutually supportive impact of mindfulness and character strengths for mental well-being has meanwhile been confirmed by empirical evidence (e.g. Duan, 2016; Duan & Ho, 2018; Pang & Ruch, 2019b) and first research suggests that, in direct comparison, MBSP can lead to more comprehensive positive outcomes than MBSR (Pang & Ruch, 2019a).

Currently, I am running MBSP courses as part of our MSc Positive Psychology & Wellbeing, where it is the experiential backbone of the programme. It is highly beneficial to students. In the academic year that has just come to an end (2020/21), 80% of our students said that their overall wellbeing improved. 90% said that their stress management and ability to manage problems improved due to MBSP.

References

  • Duan, W. (2016). Mediation role of individual strengths in dispositional mindfulness and mental health. Personality and Individual Differences, 99, 7–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.04.078
  • Duan, W., & Ho, S. M. Y. (2018). Does being mindful of your character strengths enhance psychological wellbeing? A longitudinal mediation analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies. 19, 1045-1066. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9864-z
  • Niemiec, R. (2013). Mindfulness and Character Strengths: A Practical Guide for Flourishing. Hogrefe
  • Pang, D., & Ruch, W. (2019a). Fusing character strengths and mindfulness interventions: Benefits for job satisfaction and performance. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 24(1), 150-162. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000144
  • Pang, D., & Ruch, W. (2019b). The mutual support model of mindfulness and character strengths. Mindfulness, 10, 1545-1559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01103-z