Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, joined a team of 55 international researchers in 2001, to ask the question: “How can we help young people realise their full potential?” This led to research in what makes life worth living, how we experience a richer life, how we reach optimal well-being and how we can become the best version of ourselves. Thus followed three years of research, which resulted in the identification of the 24 character strengths used by mankind.

This series of blogs helps you understand the 24 scientifically proven character strengths, which help mankind’s wellbeing and quality of life across the globe.

Strength #8 Spirituality

The term 'spirituality' is used really frequently at the moment, but what exactly does it mean and how can it be valuable in life? To many people, spirituality is linked with religion, but it doesn’t have to be. These days it has embraced the practice of reaching higher levels of consciousness, awareness of self, by using things like mindfulness, yoga, meditation etc…

Spirituality is a valuable strength and something we all need in our lives - it can really contribute to our well-being and happiness. For me, it’s all about connection – connection to self, to others, to the world around us. It helps ground us and give us respite – a pause, a break, relief from day to day life and our busy minds. It can help recharge our batteries. It can help us cope and be more resilient.

Spiritual moments can come at any time. It could be walking in nature, lying on the grass, being on a beach, swimming in the sea… It can also be when we connect with others, working in a team for charity, playing on a sports team, being in a music group, choir or band. It can also be moments in a special relationship, a friendship …It can also be a connection with a piece of music, a song, a work of art, a book or poem … There are so many opportunities for spiritual connection.

So how can we help our children to be more spiritual? Here are 5 easy ways:

• Practice kindness
In the act of helping others, there is usually a connection made between the giver and the receiver, and from that comes a wonderful feeling of positivity. Encourage kindness by praising kind acts, by pointing them out when you see them done by others and – best of all – show your children that you yourself are kind to others.

• Practice gratitude
There are so many things to be grateful for in life. Even when things may be difficult, we can still be happy that we are breathing, we have someone to love, we have a roof over our heads … Encourage your children to practice being grateful by showing them and telling them about what YOU are grateful for. A great thing to do is to get in the habit that each night before your child goes to sleep, saying together three things you are grateful for. Having gratitude connects us to positivity, to other people and to our surroundings.

• Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a lovely practice, and quite easy to learn and teach. It’s very much about being in the moment and connected to what’s around you. With younger children, a great place to start is in the bath. Get them to close their eyes and feel the water against their skin, the gentle movement of it, the warmth of it. Practice taking some deep breaths together. Also, try to do this when out in nature. Stop and listen to the sounds around you, close your eyes and listen to the wind, the birdsong. Or lie on the grass or the sand and feel it with your fingers. What can you hear, what can you smell, how does it feel?

• Practice creativity
When we are being creative, we are connecting with a process. It can be learning to play an instrument, singing, painting, drawing, making models… The list is endless! Creativity soothes the soul – get your very young children involved in messy play creative activities. Finger painting is a great one. Or pour some cold yogurt onto a table and let them explore it with their hands, making shapes, smelling it, feeling it. It’s a process that connects them with the materials they are using and their senses and has a real feel-good factor!

• Practice not practicing!
This is very important! So many parents fill their children’s day with activities and rarely let their child just 'be' in their own company, with nothing to do. Boredom is great! It stimulates the imagination, gives them time to think and just be. They really don’t need to be directed every minute of every day. Have a time in your home when all technology is turned off, so there is no background noise or distraction. These times give your child a chance to connect with themselves and are so valuable.

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