(image from Pixabay)
And so it is now 2017, and to be honest, for the past few weeks I have been wracking my brain to come up with a satisfying challenge that would really stretch me over the next 12 months (let's blame my obsession with a stretchy challenge on my reading Mihaly Csikszentmialyi's theories of optimal flow .... watch his TED talk here - FLOW). So, there is challenge, and it essentially has started already, and here are the deep, bare bones of it .....
In 2016 I started a new degree, it is a Masters if Character Education, this in itself is a huge challenge, both personally and professionally, but a challenge I relish. In this degree I am learning so much about what character is and how we can develop and build it, not only in ourselves, but in our children and teens. As I am working my way through the, intense, information download, I have been thinking that perhaps the best way to explore these ideas of character is to actually live them. So, within my degree I have found my very personal challenge for 2017 - 12 Months of Character.
Now, I don't know at this point, if you are feeling a bit confused over the meaning of character (I have had people ask me if I am studying characters from plays or books or movies ...), so here is a brief explanation of what the character I am talking about is -
Character - virtue or values traits that make up a person's individual personality, i.e., Mark is brave, Jo is kind, and Harry is imaginative and gritty.
We all like to imagine that we have a lot of character, but I want to explore exactly what character is, to have a more experience driven understanding of certain character traits, and to see what impact developing these character traits will have on my life and that of the people around me.
So, I am starting the "12 Months of Character" - a year long project that will focus on one character trait per month. I will blog about the experience, write up ideas on how you can develop character for yourself, and ultimately see if building character can help us thrive and flourish.
I have alloted a character trait to each month (and the year is divided into 4 categories, based on the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues designation of virtues into, Moral, Civic, Intellectual, and Performance) :
January - Kindness
February - Compassion
March - Humility
April - Volunteerism
May - Friendship
June - Philanthropy
July - Open-mindedness
August - Creativity
September - Intellectual Courage
October - Perseverance
November - Focus
December - Gratitude
And so this month I have started off with Kindness, and too begin I have a few questions for you ....
What does kindness mean to you? How have you been kind? How do you think you can be kinder in the future?