“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  Helen Keller

My younger son recently took the SSAT as part of his boarding school applications.  A small portion of the SSAT is “The Character Skills Snapshot”.  This Snapshot measures seven character skills falling into three areas: skills that are intellectual in nature, intra-personal in nature and interpersonal in nature.  As a yoga studio owner, I thought “Gosh, if we had some form of character skills snapshot, what would that look like?”  In contemplating this question, I decided that the top 3 character skills I would choose would be ~ integrity, open-mindedness and positivity.

It has been said that integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy.  This skill demonstrates one’s strength to choose thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain.  It is a matter of doing the right thing, even when no-one is watching (and with integrity blossom other traits such as civility and honesty).  Few would argue that it is easier to create a desired public image rather than face our character flaws.  But, it is only a matter of time before this facade disintegrates.  It is in fact facing these challenges that enables us to develop our integrity, as the “right” choice is not always the “easy” one.  By choosing thoughts and actions based on values, we develop a strength in character providing us with the resilience to live with grace, even in the face of what may seem like insurmountable obstacles. 

Open-mindedness demonstrates our willingness to maintain a sense of curiosity.  Danger lies in judgmental and “know it all”  thinking.  Being open-minded shows our acceptance for growth and learning, and a willingness to listen to beliefs and viewpoints that may challenge our own. When we cease to be an open-minded learner, we stop growing.  We become rigid in our thinking and create separation and disharmony.

Finally, positivity is another way we live with grace.  Negativity bias, also known as the negativity effect, is the psychological notion that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones.  This effect plays a role in shaping our behavior, decisions and relationships, affecting the way we think and feel, and the way we perceive and respond to others.  In a seemingly negative world, practicing positivity takes courage and allows us to develop our resilience.  We become better able to overcome our failures and shortcomings and more efficient at problem-solving and achieving goals.  In a life that is ever-changing, we become more adaptable and willing to grow.

The good news is that we all have the capacity to develop these character traits.  It is simply a matter of choosing and re-patterning our thoughts and behaviors.   Maybe you ask yourself what your “Character Skills Snapshot” would look like.  For me, I choose Integrity, open-mindedness and positivity…Effective Immediately!

“As we think, so we become.”  Buddha