I was introduced via LinkedIn to the admirable work currently being undertaken by Daniel Trussell PH.D by my friend Dr. Yvonne Sum and wanted to share it with you all as well.

Daniel is creating a catalogue of practical character building activities for children (primarily over the age of 8) along the six virtues of

  • WISDOM (love of learning, judgment, curiosity, originality, perspective)
  • COURAGE (integrity, bravery, persistence, vitality)
  • HUMANITY AND LOVE (generosity, loving and being loved, social/emotional intelligence)
  • JUSTICE (teamwork, fairness, leadership)
  • TEMPERANCE (forgiveness and mercy, self control humility, prudence and discretion)
  • TRANSCENDENCE (appreciation of beauty and ideas, gratitude, hope, spirituality, humor)

What a wonderful list of virtues (by the way, William J. Bennett’s ‘The Book Of Virtues’ is one of my favourite books of all time), and what a wonderful reminder for any of us as parents of our responsibility to be role models to our children and that we are the core ‘teachers’ and ‘nurtures’ of these virtues in our children and therefore for our future society.

By the way, in case you’re about to stop reading because you’re not a parent, please don’t – this is just as applicable to us as individuals whether we’re parents or not…

Something that Lizzie and I did and continue to do today with our sons (now 22 and 19) is to play what I have called the “What I think about that and why” game. It’s based on the principle of discovery learning and while the answers may not always be that clear or concise (depending on the age of the person), sometimes they can produce gems of wisdom and learning (and not just for the child).

Basically, whether it’s to do with wisdom, courage, humanity and love, justice, temperance or transcendence, the game can be played… and it is not age specific.

For example… Transcendence: Appreciation of beauty and ideas – stop and take notice of a sunset (or mountain, or vista, or flower, etc) … and ask “What do you think about that sunset?” They might reply “ it’s beautiful” and then ask, “And why is it beautiful to you?” They might reply, “I love the colours and it makes me feel good.”  Finish by genuinely praising your child with something like “That’s a wonderful way to think about sunsets… well done.”

In essence we’re introducing, through this game, intentional mindfulness about the world in which they live.

And… this is a game that I personally play to keep me mindful of the gifts that are in my life… the views, the sunsets, nature’s wonders, the relationships, the books, the blogs, the meetings, the trips into the city for meetings… and the list goes on. Intentional mindfulness is a powerful and pleasurable experience.

We could all do with a little reminder about being intentionally mindful of the wonders that surround us in our Every-Day lives – that old adage of stop and smell the roses is just as valuable today as it ever was.