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Sette dyd-/karakterstyrkemål for det nye året i Naw-Ruz

Today is the first day of Bahai, and the Persian new year, Naw-Ruz. This year, I decided to have some character strengths/virtue goals for the coming year. This was because I saw that everything I needed to do and focus on in my life could be classified as one of the virtues I needed to strengthen, so I defined a few character strengths to focus on during this year. As the goal of life is "to acquire virtues"1 and genuine happiness is «the exercise of virtue»2, why not have virtues/character strengths as a new year's resolution?

The idea of having virtue goals came to me because of what we did in our family for the last week before Naw-Ruz: I made my kids a NawRuz calendar for the last week of the year. I put some small sweets in a small, beautiful paper bag each day and clipped a virtue character cart at the top - an idea I got from a friend. The kids and I discussed character strengths and encouraged each other to act based on them during the day. It was very nice to see that when my pre-schooler and toddler get into one of those siblings’ arguments (fights), they call each other to act based on a virtue! :) This spired me that together as a family, we create some ground rules based on the virtues and put them on the fridge, so whenever we need to be reminded of how we like to be in our family, we have a reference. I read about this idea for the first time in a book by Linda Kavelin Popov called “The Family Virtue Guide,”3 but I did not consider using it until now that I could see how beneficial it is for my kids and our relationships.

This is the bag I used with a children virtue card in Norwegian.
The Naw-Ruz calender paper bag with virtue card in Norwegian.

The character strengths I chose for this year are Discipline, Patience, Joy/Radiance, and Contentment. I did not choose too many characters as focusing on many different things would be too difficult. But I thought about what I needed this year most! How am I going to focus on them? Well, my idea is that every morning after my routine prayer and meditation, I focus on these virtues and how I can practice and cultivate them during the day and imagine different situations that I usually encounter during the day and how I am going to use each of these virtues. Then try to be mindful of them during the day. At night, when I am retired to bed, I will use one or two minutes to review the day and see how much I could use the mentioned character strengths during the day and if I was better than yesterday. Then set the intention to be more mindful of them the next day without being too rough on myself and while accepting that each character needs lifelong work. Living based on the characters and developing them is a lifelong process, and there is no particular point that you come to and think you are eternally wise, patient, enlightened, etc. It is essential to have a healthy view of the process of working on character strengths.

So the evaluation and setting the intention to develop virtues is not for criticizing or harshly judging myself each day or bringing myself down. Nor is it about thinking idealistically that I can permanently be joyful and patient now. It is to develop my consciousness towards virtues with gentleness and compassion for myself and to take tiny steps each day toward cultivating these virtues. We change and nourish our character strengths“little by little, day by day.” It hopefully also helps me to develop this awareness in me to see these qualities when shown by others, for example, when my husband is patient with me, or my son radiates joy (although not necessarily in a way that I like as a mother). Seeing the positive character in those around us can help our relationship with them become more profound and meaningful.

When done correctly, with gentleness and grace, exercising the practice of character development is positively related to better mood and lessening depressive symptoms, and improved well-being and mental health based on research in positive psychology. So, if you like this idea, you can also set some virtuous goals for your new year. You can try this method even if you do not celebrate the Naw-Ruz. Any day can be a great day to start a change for a happier, more whole you.


1. Paris Talks: Addresses Given by Abdu'l-Baha in 1911, Abdu'l-Baha, 2006

2. Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life, Edith Hall, 2018

3. Family Virtues Guide book: Simple way to bring out the best in our children, Linda Kavelin Popov, 2002

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