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  • Anjali Gupta

Am I Doing Enough?

The pandemic was difficult. Social isolation, joblessness, food insecurity, and health inequities in our system have been painfully apparent. Frustration over racial injustice that has been present for decades and ignored is now at a historic level. It is forcing questions in all of us on what to do, how to help, how to produce necessary change.

Trevor Noah explained recently that part of society lives with basic assumptions; we have "a contract with society" such as the police are here for our protection. What if that is NOT your reality? What does that contract with society look like then? Van Jones pushes us to reflect on whether we truly conjure up equal images or whether there is a degree of inequality present everywhere. There is the flagrant, unacceptable behavior like the wrongful deaths we have repeatedly seen in this country. Then there is the other stuff. What about all the things that people who consider themselves "anti-racist" participate in? The implicit bias in what a child's best friend "should" look like, the social hierarchy within our communities, the "tokenism" on boards across this country, and the political neutrality maintained even when we are standing right next to people making outrageous comments. Are we all rocking the boat enough in our communities? Or are we guilty of standing quietly in self preservation mode in systems we know not to be equal? I, like everyone, am struggling with these questions and whether I have done enough along the way to stand up against the injustices around me. Have I spoken out enough and used my voice for those who do not feel like they can? When are the structural inequities and the racial prejudice built into health care and education and the criminal justice system going to be something we fix?

So how do we help? What should we do? We each need to figure out what makes sense for us, and it won't look the same for everyone. One of the steps to begin is knowing your strengths. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, aka the Father of Positive Psychology, studied multiple religious texts and came up with six core virtues: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, transcendence. These are made up of 24 character strengths, measurable virtues in action. Though we possess all of them in a continuum, the character strengths that are at the top of your list are your strongest character strengths, your signature strengths. Why does it help to know these? First, it is an interesting exercise in self awareness to know and understand what signature strengths define you. More importantly, studies have shown that when people found ways to utilize their signature strengths, it lowered depressive symptoms and increased happiness. Knowing what your signature strengths are and then finding ways to implement them in your daily life may assist both yourself and your community right now. It can help you figure out how to engage during this pandemic, find constructive ways to get involved against injustice and inequity, and may lower depressive symptoms during this challenging time. So carve out fifteen minutes today to take the survey, become aware of your signature strengths, and use them in the world around you as often as you can. The world requires so many of these traits right now including humility, perspective, bravery, kindness, leadership, fairness, honesty, love of learning and more.....

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