The Virtues Project ™ was founded in 1991 by Linda Kavelin-Popov, her husband Dr. Dan Popov and her brother, John Kavelin who made a commitment to do something to counteract the rising violence among families and youth. They researched the world’s diverse sacred traditions, and discovered more than 360 virtues at the heart of all beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life. They self-published a book to help parents bring out the best in themselves and their children, The Family Virtues Guide.
According to the literature written about the Virtues Project, ‘Virtues are the qualities of our character. Values are whatever we consider important. We can value anything from money and power to the Golden Rule. Values are culture-specific, while virtues such as courage, honor, justice, and love are the common elements of character and spirituality universally valued by all cultures. We may practice them differently from one culture to another.’Additional literature declares, “The Virtues Project ™is not about the practices or beliefs of any one religion. It is sourced in the teachings about virtues found in the sacred traditions of all cultures. Its purpose is to support all people, both those who are religious and those who are not, to awaken the virtues of their character. The working definition of spirituality used in The Virtues Project ™is:
Having a sense of meaning and purpose.
Living with integrity, according to a person’s highest beliefs and values.
Mastery of the virtues of our character.
A sense of reverence for life and for all people.
In 1993, during the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat and World Conference of Cities and Corporations honored The Virtues Project ™ as a model global program for families of all cultures.
“The purpose of The Virtues Project ™ is to provide life-skill strategies that make the knowledge and practice of virtues accessible to people of all cultures. The Five Strategies help individuals to live more reverent, purposeful lives, support parents to raise children of strong moral character, inspire excellence, commitment and service in the workplace, and help schools and communities to build a climate of safety and caring.”
The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project ™ are:
1. Speak the Language of the Virtues.
Language has great influence to empower or discourage. Self-esteem is built when shaming or blaming language is replaced by naming the Virtues, our innate qualities of character. Virtues are used to acknowledge, guide and correct. The Language of Virtues helps us remember what kind of people we want to be.
2. Recognize Teachable Moments.
This strategy is a way of viewing life as an opportunity for learning, recognizing our mistakes, our tests and challenges as opportunities to honor our virtues. It is an approach to bringing out the best in each other by asking, “what can I learn from this situation?”, “What do I need to do differently next time?” and “How can I make it right?” Any moment that we bring our focus upon a virtue that is needed or demonstrated is a teachable moment.
3. Set Clear Boundaries.
Clear boundaries, connected to a Shared Vision of the virtues with which we want to treat one another, help to prevent violence and create a safe learning environment. Clear ground rules based on virtues build an atmosphere of order and unity. This strategy offers a positive approach to discipline, emphasizing both assertiveness and restorative justice. It helps us to identify what bottom line behaviors will not be tolerated as well as how amends can be made. Clear boundaries set children up to succeed.
4. Honor the Spirit.
School spirit grows through simple practices that illumine our sense of values, such as creating Shared Vision Statements. A school-wide moment of silence each morning can bring a sense of peace to the day. Virtues Sharing Circles allow us to reflect on what matters to us. Participation in the arts honors meaning and creativity. Celebrations make special events meaningful. This strategy helps us to address the spiritual dimension in a way that respects our diversity.
5. Offer the Art of Spiritual Companioning™
This is an art and skill which supports healing, encourages moral choice, and allows the safe expression of feelings. It helps in counseling, conflict resolution, and disciplinary situations. Companioning helps us to get to the heart of the matter when individuals are in grief or crisis. It invokes true presence and listening, asking clarifying questions, which allow individuals to empty their cup, and then to solve their own problems with the help of virtues.
SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE VIRTUES
(To see a list of Virtues identified by The Virtues Project ™, please refer to the list that follows at the end of this post.)
How To Give a Virtues Acknowledgment
The 3 elements: opening phrase, virtue, and situation.
OPENING PHRASE VIRTUE SITUATION
I see your kindness in helping your sister. I honor you for your kindness in the way you helped your sister. I acknowledge you for your kindness in the way you helped your sister. That took a lot of kindness to help your sister when you were busy. It was kind of you to help your sister. You were being kind when you helped your sister.
How to give a Virtues Instruction/Guidance or Correction
OPENING PHRASE VIRTUE SITUATION
You need to be patient while you wait for dinner. Please be kind to your sister. What would help you to be peaceful with your sister now? I need some consideration. Please turn down the music. How can I support you to be self-disciplined about remembering your homework?
The 5 Strategies and Speak the Language is copyrighted material. For more information about the Virtues Project, visit their website at http://www.virtuesproject.com/
A List of the Virtues