The Good Life- Celebrate Your Strengths

LifeTree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D. Editor

In this Issue:   The Good Life
1.  Welcome
2.  Discover Your Strengths
3.  Celebrate Your Strengths
4.  The Heart of Home

1. Welcome:

What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, build deep lasting relationships with others, feel pleasure, and contribute to the world?  What is it that allows you to develop a sense of well being?    We all have character strengths that empower our lives.  When you tap into your strengths, it leads to a solid foundation of self esteem and increases your optimism, enthusiasm, and joy.  Here are some ways in which they show up.

2.  Discover your Strengths

During the day, when do you feel the most strong, enthusiastic, and deeply absorbed in your work?  These are the times you are in your strengths.  Your strengths are the areas where you can become deeply engaged.  When you use your strengths more frequently, it increases your happiness, sense of well being, and joy.

Look around your surroundings.  What aspects of your home touch you the most deeply? Do you have favorite pictures, favorite sayings?  What about your plants? Take a moment to connect with them and savor them.  You will discover that they relate to your strengths.  When placing items in your home, take notice how you connect with them.  Do they make you feel stronger?  Keep those items that give you meaning and joy.  Other aspects of your surroundings you may not enjoy. Clear those out.   It will make you much happier and help you to get things done.

When faced with challenges, what strengths bring you through?  Is it your sense of humor? - Your ability to put things in perspective? - Your ability to learn new information to solve your problem?  All of these reflect your underlying character strengths.  Acknowledge them. They will help you to accomplish your goals.

Watch for the qualities you appreciate in others.  Notice when your friends get excited and what gives them joy. Then ask them to tell you more about it. These are the areas of their strengths.  When you give others feedback, it helps them see their strengths. You will discover it builds your relationships.

What gives you a deep sense of purpose and meaning?  Are there institutions that give you deep sense of purpose?  When you get to together with your family and friends, what are the activities that give you the most joy?  Honor these moments.  It helps you connect in a positive way and also helps you appreciate your ancestors.

3.  Celebrate Your Strengths 

July is the month when we celebrate the Declaration of Independence.  It states that we are all "endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  It is the character strengths that help us to exercise these rights.  Take a moment this month to discover and celebrate them.   If you would like to take a survey to help you identify the strengths you use most frequently, take the VIA survey of character strengths at www.authentichappiness org.

4.  Upcoming Teleconference - The Heart of Home

Is your home a place of connection and joy?  Or, does your home give you stress?  Come a join us to discover the subtle cultural influences that impact our experience of home.  Then we will be giving you tips for creating a wholesome home - - one that is connected to the deeper values of your heart.  We are continuing our discussion from last month, honoring the wisdom of the ages that supports life today.

Three of us will be sharing:  Dr. Jane, cultural anthropologist, will share on cultural influences on the meaning of home.  I will give you tips on healthy relating, happiness and wellbeing, and Samantha Shields, a home energy specialist, will share how to relate to your home surroundings to create positive energy.

Come join us to learn more about "The Heart of Home."  This Teleconference will be held on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 from 9:00 -10:00 AM CDT.  Call 760-569-9000 Access code 308311.

Warm Regards
Dr. Alice




Newsletter Name: 
Lifetree News

Getting Real

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

In this issue:

1. Welcome
2. Facing Challenges with Strength
3. Gender Strengths
4. Winning - Side by Side
5. Announcements

1. Welcome

Welcome.  Today we are in a period of significant change.  Economist, Dr. David
Korten, has summarized this change quite well.  He has challenged the belief of the old economy, “All you need is money,” with the statement, “Get real.  What we need is healthy families, communities, and ecosystems.”  I heartily agree.  Money can reduce anxiety, but money alone will not make you happy. Our real happiness comes from the bonding we have with each other. This e-newsletter, focuses on “Getting real” by facing our challenges with our real assets, our strengths, and our ability to work together.

2. Facing Challenges with Strength

Do you know the number one factor that impacts performance and growth? It is our faith in our potential.  Researchers, such as Bandura (1997) have shown that how we see our potential has more of an impact on our output and performance than our level of training, background of knowledge, motivation, and almost everything else combined.  We develop this faith from focusing on strengths. We have talked about the imporance of our values and character strengths in previous issues.

One common assumption in business and life is that your weakness is your
greatest area of opportunity, and that you need to be well rounded to fit an “ideal.”
Research by Buckingham (2007) at the Gallup organization, however, finds that this deficit view actually diminishes your chances of making your greatest contribution. You will have a much stronger sense of well-being from an integrated sense of yourself at your best. This does not mean you ignore your weaknesses, but that you outsource them, and team up with others to get the job done.

3. Gender Strengths

One of the most fundamental aspects of our identity is gender. This too is an area  where there has been a deficit influence.  It shows up in the belief that there exists an "ideal" man and woman, and that if you fit this ideal, you will be happy.  The only problem is that this ideal may not exist, other than on the media. If the ideal person does exist, the ideal person may be different for every individual.

At the same time, we do know that there exist gender strengths. Extensive literature  in virtually every discipline in the social and behavioral sciences shows that relationships are a strength for women. A strong feminine relationship orientation has been demonstrated in young girls, teenagers, as well as for women in all stages of adulthood, and in all walks of life. Women see themselves and the world through relationship glasses (Babcock & Laschever, 2008).

The orientation of men, on the other hand is much more logical and task oriented, focusing on a single goal. When men talk, they are more self assertive, competitive, and action oriented. Their communications are much more to the point about the tasks to be done.
Many of these differences are hard-wired in the neurology of the brain. Often
they are a source of confusion and misunderstanding. When we appreciate and
accept them as strengths, it is much easier to create effective teamwork.
Businesses that train their managers on brain-based gender differences, increase workplace comfort, productivity, and profit.

 4.  Winning - Side by Side

A deficit approach to meeting an ideal, has limited success. It is a top-down power over approach, with one view dominating over the other, that results in competitive and adversarial relationships. The real issue, I believe, is not the abilities of people, but a crisis of consciousness. Old patterns of thought, deeply subconscious, from childhood such as “I am not enough," or "There is only one way of seeing the world." They result from a childhood view when we were dependent on adults, who in our view were, big and powerful, while we were little. As we mature, these old patterns give way to honest expression, connection, and productive teamwork.
When we get real, we can work together side-by-side, seeing ourselves as different and equal.  People are not inferior or superior, but have strengths and a capacity to give.  Side- by-side relating focuses on the whole, nurturance and empowerment. It produces much more harmony, productivity, and security.

Women have a deep capacity for connection and collaboration to find a way through difficult times. When women step up to the plate, and ask for what is needed from a relationship perspective, the crisis can turn into a just and more sustainable form of life. I will be having a Women’s workshop on August 29th to help bring out these capabilities and skills.

What is needed is not consumerism, but shift in how we view the world. Adversity, in the short term, leads to unhappiness and despair, but In the long term it is a stimulus for change.  Change always progresses towards greater wholeness. 

We can no longer think of Planet Earth in terms of individual countries -- the
planet is integrating into one complete system. The system that prevails is the
one that best allows beneficial cooperation. It is the system in which the
self-interest of the separate parts is better served through cooperation than
competition.  An approach that promotes conscious choice for the benefit of the
whole brings a more positive outcome. Stay positive and appreciate all that
is there.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice


Babcock, L. & Laschever, S. Ask for It.  Princeton, NY: Random House, 2008.
Bandura, A.  “Self Efficacy:  The Essence of Control.  New York, 1997.
Buckingham, M. Go Put Your Strengths to Work.  New York:  Free Press, 2007
Korten, David C.  Agenda for a New Economy:  From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.   San Francisco, CA:  Berrett-Koehler Publishes, Inc. 2009.

5.  Announcements

1. Tuesday, August, 18, 7:00-9:00 PM.  Join us for a demonstration of the power of releasing old patterns for creating more effective teamwork. It will be held at
the monthly open house of "A Gathering Place." 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101.

2. Monday, August, 24 7:30 PM CDT we will be having a complementary telesminar: "Winning in 2009:  Get Real" Learn how your actions every day can create a shift on three levels: Cultural, Relational, and Personal. Just Click this Link:

3. Saturday, August 29, 1-5:00 PM, CDT I will be giving a women's happiness
workshop, "Creating Relationships That Work.  Sign up at:


© Copyright 2009 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is
copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as
long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact information.
However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

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Disclaimer:  By reading this e-newsletter you understand that the information given in the e-newsletter, and related teleseminars, and blog are presented for informational entertainment purposes and "food for thought," not professional advice. You are solely responsible for the use of the ideas, concepts, and content and hold Lifetree Solutions LLC, its members, affiliates, and Dr. Alice Vlietstra harmless in any event or claim.

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating
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