It’s been awhile. Blogging routinely challenges me. Creativity is one of my Character Strengths. Self-regulation isn’t. I know that I ought to blog routinely – once or twice a week. Then I would build a healthy habit of writing creatively. And, as Lisa Laskow and Robert Kegan suggest in their book, Immunity to Change, I have to really, really desire to write regularly if I am going to change. Simply telling myself that I should is not nearly enough to overcome my internal resistance and external forces for changing my life in such a way. I’m not ready, at least on this task, to self-transform my mind. I’m not energized enough to commit myself to working my way through an Immunity to Change Map. That’s not to say that I’m not spending a great deal of time to transform myself. I’ve decided to drift away from being adaptive though. I’m working on flourishing instead.
You see, I went down a pretty dark depression hole back around the end of May. I don’t remember what the precipitating event was. I don’t need a reason sometimes. I just get a shovel and start digging. Sometime around the middle of June, I came up for air long enough to read about Dr. Laurie Santos’ Science of Well-Being Course at Yale. Professor Santos’ class is the most popular course ever at Yale. I was intrigued; so, I did a little research. Love of learning is another one of my Character Strengths. That’s a good thing for me and you to know. Do you know what yours are?
I discovered that I could sign up for the class at coursea. And, it’s free! (unless you want a certificate of completion of some other form of proof of continuing education). One of the first assignments is to evaluate your character strengths and present level of happiness. Yes, there’s actual homework and it is worth doing! It is a Yale course after all. This initiative along with the idea that I really, really wanted to go to Spain with my spouse and best friends in 2020 prompted me to get off of my ass and rejoin Planet Fitness. We intend to spend 14-17 days as pilgrims on the Camino De Santiago. $22.00 bucks a month for the PF Black Card is not going to break my bank. The HydroMassage Chair is awesome for my lower back and meditative practices. My feet, knees, back, shoulders, brain, and soul will all thank me when indeed we venture out for a Buen Camino some months from now. As my anam cara , Gil Stafford, writes in his book – Wisdom Walking – Pilgrimage as a Way of Life – a pilgrim begins her or his pilgrimage long before she or he sets a physical foot on the path. And a pilgrim must walk all of the miles – known and unknown – spiritually, mystically, intellectually, and physically when they indeed do choose to complete their Immunity to Change Map and consume God’s Bread of Life. (more on that in a few paragraphs).
All in all, I chose, about six weeks ago, that I really, really wanted to let go of some aspects of my old self for a newer – more free version of me. This is not the first or last time that I have made such a decision. I’ve quit lots of time. Self-regulation is not one of my strengths. Creativity and sense of purpose are. So, I’m using what I desire to be good for dealing with my growth edges. Each time I learn a little bit more about myself. I followed Professor Santos’ directions and downloaded the ReWi app. I’ve used religiously the application. It really is helpful to track progress in 7 different categories: goals, sleep, exercise, connections, gratitude, kindness, and savoring. The act of documenting and writing something down is scientifically and faithfully important. I’m checking on my levels of PERMA throughout each week. I doubt that Dr. Seligman would use these words but I will. This self-improvement endeavor has more deeply reacquainted me with eating the Bread of Life that is necessary for eternal life. His book, Flourish is re-connecting me with my faith in God and belief in the God-given character strengths that I uniquely have and that I believe everyone possesses.
Let me explain those last two statements.
Jesus, in the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John, differentiates between bread that sustains human beings on a daily basis in contrast to the Bread of Life that God gives offering life to the World. (kosmos) Jesus adds that he is “The bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6: 35) . There is nothing in this passage about getting a free pass to paradise. There is plenty in this passage suggesting that Jesus’ Way is The Way toward becoming fully human. Sacramental living is living as Jesus lived – sharing himself through the healing of the people around him. He savored God’s Grace while coincidentally giving thanks and contributing his divinely inspired and miraculous gifts with others. He rebuked selfishness even as he broke bread with thousands of people. That’s all very biblical and it is also very practical.
Consider this comparison. The VIA Institute on Character states that their goal is to “fill the world with greater virtue – more wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.” Now, I don’t know that anyone at the institute is a self-professed Christian. Some of Seligman’s research suggests that religious practice in and of itself is not predictive of authentic happiness. On the other hand, identification and application of character strengths – especially when dedicated toward improving the well-being of other people and creation assuredly correlates with increased levels of joy and well-being. That sounds a whole lot like Jesus Christ’s Gospel message to me. ” I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.” (John 10:10)
Creativity is one of my greatest character strengths. I didn’t ask for it. It is a gift from God. If writing is one unique way for me to express my original thoughts and ideas – so be it. I’m guessing that I’ll have to use this and some of my other strengths to build up my prudence, humility, and self-regulation. Perhaps this blog will become a more regular weekly exercise for me to accomplish – along with getting to Planet Fitness.