The Art of Strengths Coaching

G is for Being Grateful, Generous And Good  

There are many ways to live life. One approach is to try to follow the guiding compass of being grateful, generous and good. Let’s explore how people can follow these principles in their own ways.

Being Grateful

People who are happy often have a sense of gratitude. They count their blessings rather than their burdens. They appreciate life and try to make the most of each day.

What are the things that you are grateful for in your own life? Here are some answers that people give to this question.

I am grateful for:

Having a happy childhood … Being encouraged by a special teacher … Enjoying forty years of health … Spending several years in a soul-destroying job because this made me appreciate the satisfying work I did later in life … Meeting kindred spirits.

Being with an encouraging partner … Being treated by wonderful nurses and doctors when I had a serious illness … The gift of music … Living by the sea for several years … Learning to love gardening … Relearning how to enjoy a sense of wonder as I got older.  

There are many books about gratitude. These often mention the life and work of Brother David Steindl-Rast. Here are some of the things he has said about gratitude.

Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.

You can discover more about the work of Brother David and his colleagues at the following site.

The Greater Good website provides many tools that people can use to develop their sense of gratitude. Below is a summary of the benefits that people can gain from taking these steps.

Different people use different methods for increasing their sense of gratitude. Some focus on their assets and see how they can use these to help other people. Some keep a Gratitude Journal in which they record the things they are grateful for each day.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to maintain a sense of gratitude.

Being Generous

Many people enjoy giving to other people. They enjoy being kind, generous and giving people opportunities to grow. They also love passing on knowledge that helps people to succeed.

Looking at your own life, what are the things you want to give to people during your time on the planet? Here are some of the answers that people give to this question.

The things that I want to give people are: 

A loving home … Nourishing food … Practical tools people can use to shape their future lives … The chance to find satisfying work …  The chance for young people to work abroad … Helping people to learn life lessons through sports … Beautiful experiences.

A breakthrough treatment for a specific illness … A safe place where people can heal … A chance to regain their belief in life … Pastoral care for people in our organisation …  Helping people diagnosed with autism to find jobs working with data.

Adam Grant’s book Give and Take describes the different ways that people can operate in their personal and professional lives. Here is an excerpt from his website that provides more background to this work. You can discover more via the following link.

Give and Take changes our fundamental ideas about how to succeed – at work and in life.  

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.  

Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers.  

Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. 

These styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

The website Brainpickings also provides an excellent introduction to Adam’s work. Here are excerpts from the article that you can find via the following link.

Brainpickings Give And Take

Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. 

They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts.

Givers tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get.

Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them.  

If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with other people who can benefit from them. 

In the workplace, however, few of us are purely givers or takers — rather, what dominates is a third style:

We become Matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity.  

If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships.

But evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most of the people most of the time. And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.

Givers, takers, and matchers all can – and do – achieve success. But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades.

When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch.  

In contrast, when [givers] win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them.  

Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.  

Giving can be extremely rewarding, but everybody needs encouragement. It is important for the giving person to also get support, otherwise they can feel empty.

How can you continue to be generous in life? You may want to do this by encouraging people, mentoring, coaching, passing on knowledge or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to continue to be generous in your life and work.

Being Good

How can you continue to live a good life? There are, of course, many views about what constitutes good and it is easy to move into the realms of moral philosophy. Here we are talking about trying to encourage – rather than discourage – people during your time on the planet.

One approach to exploring this topic is to focus on the human qualities that are admired by people in different cultures. Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson explored this topic in their book Character Strengths and Virtues.

Working with a team of researchers, they studied the qualities of moral excellence that are admired across different philosophies, religions and cultures. These included looking at virtues in the following fields.

The Buddhist Tradition … The Taoist Tradition … The Hindu Tradition … The Christian Tradition … The Confucian Tradition … The Jewish Tradition … The Muslim Tradition … The Bahá’í Tradition … The Humanistic Tradition … The Altruistic Tradition. 

The African Traditions … The Asian Traditions … The European Traditions … The North American Traditions … The South American Traditions … The Pacific Traditions … The Various Philosophical Traditions … The Traditions Embodied in Various Guilds, Professions and Social Movements.

The researchers interviewed over 15,000 people in different cultures. After extensive research, the team settled on six key virtues, though these are obviously interlinked. Martin Seligman writes.  

When we look we see that there are six virtues, which we find endorsed across cultures, and these break down into 24 strengths.  

The six virtues that we find are non-arbitrary – first, a wisdom and knowledge cluster; second, a courage cluster; third, virtues like love and humanity; fourth, a justice cluster; fifth a temperance, moderation cluster; and sixth a spirituality, transcendence cluster. 

We sent people up to northern Greenland, and down to the Masai, and are involved in a 70-nation study in which we look at the ubiquity of these. Indeed, we’re beginning to have the view that those six virtues are just as much a part of human nature as walking on two feet are.

Below is a summary of their findings. You can discover more via the following link.

Human Virtues

Different people aim to show these qualities in different ways. Mary Gordon, for example, has showed kindness by creating the organisation called Roots of Empathy.

The organisation’s mission is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. The programme involves bringing a local baby into the classroom. The children then learn how to understand and care for the needs of another human being.

The Roots of Empathy programme has spread to many countries. It has produced remarkable results in enabling children to become more caring, peaceful and able to solve problems. This has also reduced aggression, bullying and other social problems.

Below is a video that provides an insight into the approach. You can also discover more on the organisation’s web site.

There are many ways to live life. One approach is to try to be grateful, generous and good. It is to give hope to both present and future generations.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to try to encourage people – rather than discourage people – during your time on the planet.



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