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Mindfulness and the Virtues

January 12, 2018

The practice of virtuous mindfulness brings the virtues to moment by moment awareness, to determine the best course of action at any given time. 



Through bringing the virtues to mindfulness, we are able to act our best according to whatever situations unfold in life. Doing this allows for us to cultivate the virtues, develop our strengths and have fulfillment in our lives.  We can do this when faced with decisions, challenges and any particular life events. 


Since this is a moment by moment practice in virtues and mindfulness, there is no limit to when and where we can apply it. Through infusing our moments with the virtues we have guideposts for living well.


Suppose that we must face a difficult co-worker and communicate some details that are challenging to share.  The situation is particularly demanding as the information in itself is complicated, but also the co-worker is not easy to work with and frequently argumentative.  




As we reflect on which virtue, or virtues, are best to bring to the conversation, we may find that courage is required as we have some fear about delivering the message. 


Furthermore, understanding the triad of courage (courage, strength, confidence) we determine that it is useful to be confident in our position on the communication to be delivered.  Therefore, we determine it is useful to bring courage, and the character strength of confidence, to the moment when we communicate with our co-worker. 


Additionally, we may also determine that the virtue of humanity, and in particular kindness and compassion, is useful for delivering the message. 


If our co-worker has been particularly difficult to work with, due to emotional reactivities, practicing kindness and empathetic compassion gives us a basis for delivering the message in an authentic way.  Reflecting on their emotional processes, and being present for them empathetically, allows for skillful communication that can defuse the sensitivity of the matter.  


The kind of process described above for a co-worker can be applied to any of our relationships and social encounters. 


In the above example, we found that courage and humanity were the virtues best suited for the situation.


However, we may find in another circumstance that using justice is the most appropriate virtue to use in our moments of communicating with someone.  


For instance, when interacting with someone that is angry, we may understand that their anger is due to an injustice that they feel, as anger is usually about a person feeling that something is unjust. This person may or may not be angry with us, but knowing that anger is usually due to feeling an injustice, we are prepared to communicate with them about how fairness may be used to rectify the situation. 


In close relationships when a person is angry with us, reflecting on what injustice they feel is present, can be enough to solve the dispute. 


Using empathetic listening, and fully understanding what core emotions they are feeling, will also give us a better handle on the situation.  By practicing empathy for the person's emotions we are also practicing the virtue of humanity.  Therefore, when dealing with someone with anger, it is useful to bring the virtues of justice and humanity to our present moment awareness.  Doing so can be just enough to defuse the situation and deliver heartfelt solutions.    


To begin bringing the virtues more fully into life, reflect on a particular challenging situation you are currently faced with, and reflect on which virtue is most appropriate to handing the situation. 


Start with the seven virtues spoken of on this site.  They are courage, temperance, diligence, justice, humanity, wisdom, transcendence.


With diligent kindness,




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