Image by Debbie Digioia
As you read through the list, I urge you to practice several of these abilities—self-compassion, openness, optimism, self-respect, and patience. If you find yourself being judgmental about lacking certain characteristics, stop reading, comes to a place of self-compassion, and continue reading until you’ve digested the whole list. Here goes:
Capabilities: mindfulness, insight, emotional intelligence, resilience, executive functions, and impulse control
Positive Emotions: gratitude, self-worth, love, self-compassion, secure attachment, gladness, awe, and serenity
Attitudes: openness, determination, optimism, confidence, approach orientation, tolerance, and self-respect
Somatic Inclinations: vitality, relaxation, grit, helpfulness
Character Virtues: wisdom, patience, energy, generosity, and restraint
Of course, no one has all of these qualities. But, if you shoot for more of them and keep shooting until you have just enough, you’ll be good to go. Hanson explains that we build a better brain for ourselves by activating these qualities until they are internalized or installed. That means that your brain uses them pretty much by default automatically.
Imagine being patient about changing, optimistic and hopeful about a better future, mindful most of the time, reflective and insightful about yourself, curious about your behavior and that of others, persistent, and knowing when to let emotions come or go. These strengths become yours by passionately wanting them and by acknowledging and praising yourself when you exercise them. If you follow this process all year long, by this time next year, you won’t want a “new you” for the new year because you’ll be enjoying the person you have become and are becoming.