Humanity

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Humanity Is the third item in our list of what it means to be strong. It is a virtue that seems to have some lacking in our society as a whole. There are three attributes that make up humanity. They are all important. There is: Love, Kindness and Social Intelligence. It might seem easy – to love, to be kind and to know how to behave when out in public, but it is far deeper than that. So how do we show our humanity?

I took the VIA online survey at: https://www.viacharacter.org/account/register#nav%20http://VIAME.org. Which determines the rank and order of your character strength. I never took this test before, but for this post I did and I will tell you how I did for each section.

Now, why do I even care about my character strengths? Well this blog is dedicated to helping you (and me) to become the person other people want to be around. Assessing my character and giving you the link to do the same, will help us to attain our goal.

Love

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

This actually ranked number 1 in my character strengths. So what is love? Is love just a chemical reaction of dopamine and norepinephrine pumped into our bloodstream and affecting our brains, or is it something more than that?

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Love is a mutual sharing of comfort, acceptance and warmth. However, love is not romance. I know that might come as a shock to some of you, but you can love someone and not be romantically connected to them. Love is affection between two people that depend on each other. 

That is why the qualifier “we are just friends” makes little to no sense in this context, because affection does not and cannot differentiate between friends and lovers. Love is mutual affection between two like minded people, people that depend on one another for support. Romance is shared between two people at a deeper more intimate level. Casual sex is neither.

We get stuck – as a society – on the oversimplification of love. What I mean by this is that we constrain love to a relationship between two people. “Well, you cannot say that you love me and love that other person.” Why not? Love is not romance? Therefore, you cannot be romantically involved with more than one person. Another thing, love is not a crush, unrequited affection or putting someone on a pedestal; it might look like love, you might get that hormone rush, but it is not love. Just to be clear; Romance requires love, but love does not require romance.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18 ESV

Another part of love is loving yourself, this can be the hardest thing to do and it is actually something I struggle with quite a bit. I know who I am, and sometimes I feel if I met myself on the street, I would cross the street just to avoid me. I know this is not healthy and I am working on it. There is an exercise that I found which might just help. Three times a week, take time out and reflect on what you can give yourself credit for. Tell yourself that you did a great job. 

Kindness

There are quite a few attributes to kindness. When I was researching for this post, I came across lists and lists of what kindness is, and what it isn’t. Kindness is doing things for others, without the hope of anything in return. Being neighborly – like the Good Samaritan.

Just a brief sampling of kindness: Benevolence, care, compassion, concern, courtesy, friendliness, gentleness, goodness, goodwill, grace, gracious heart, helpfulness, hospitality, neighborly, patience, philanthropy, sympathy, tenderness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, and unselfishness. 

Kindness does take practice, as with anything worthwhile. If you are feeling like you are not measuring up in the kindness department, you can do the following: Offer grace – be forgiving and then let go of the anger: don’t seek revenge. Think of what you are going to say, before you say it; weigh it according to what is fair, kind and appropriate. Make sure your relationships are long term; in other words, don’t drop someone, just because you had an argument.

My best friend in Highschool was also my best man at our wedding: He stood up with me. We went into the Navy together, and when we got off active duty, we went to live in the same town that we left. My wife and I had kids, and he did not, but he was willing to babysit one night. My wife and I had not had a date in years. The restaurant we wanted to go to was closed, so we called him and asked if he minded if we took in a movie. When we made it home, he was very upset and we haven’t spoken since. Almost 30 years. I have tried to reach out to him, but attempts to reconnect have been thready.

Kindness and niceness are not the same. Kindness is sincere in actions, niceness shows a lack of insincerity. Kindness does favors and good deeds, niceness gets away with doing little as possible. Kindness is selfless, caring and compassionate; niceness looks out for himself

I ranked 9 out of 24 on the VIA online survey – it is a middle strength

Social Intelligence

“The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years of talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience. The common denominator I found in every single interview is we want to be validated. We want to be understood.”

Oprah Winfrey
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Do you have the ability to get along with others? When you are around people – can you act intelligent during interactions? Can you act on the feelings and thoughts as well as the behaviours of other people? If so, you have a high Social Intelligence.

There are actually six traits of someone that is Socially Intelligent. However, Social Intelligence is not a trait you are born with, it comes from interactions and experiences with people. The six elements of Social Intelligence are:

  • Verbal Fluency and conversational Skills: This is the ability to have a coherent conversation with anyone on any subject.
  • Knowledge of social roles, rules and scripts. Different social roles are not difficult to follow, they can steer conversation in whichever way it needs to go, and they do it effortlessly.
  • Effective listening skills. They listen more than they talk, they don’t think of how they are going to reply, they actively listen to the entirety of what is being said, then they give their response.
  • Understanding what makes people tick. They are people watchers, they learn how people react to certain situations, they can tell what people are thinking.
  • Role playing and social self-efficacy. They know how to fit into several social roles, they feel comfortable in any situation – they are self confident and effective.
  • Impressive Management Skills – The impression they make is of utmost importance. They want to be remembered, but in a good way.

Social Intelligence is knowing when to talk, when to listen and what to do. This requires timing, and making sure you do things that are appropriate, when they are appropriate. I ranked 8 out of 24 for Social Intelligence.

Humanity has a lot of moving parts, and as a virtue of strength, it requires us to be aware of how we fit into humanity. We have to show love, love for ourselves, love for our neighbor and love for our friends and those to whom we are romantically attached. We need to be kind and not just nice. We have to give without the hope of reward and we have to consider others when we do it. Finally we need to have Social Intelligence, we need to learn how to get along with others at any time and in any social situation. 

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