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By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

When the going gets tough, everyone reverts to a different weapon of choice. And our arsenals are jam-packed with weapons that injure our foes: Sarcasm, pouting, snippy responses, the cold shoulder, anger, and denial, just to name a few. But when was the last time you thought about how you actually feel when you activate your defense mechanism of choice?

Life can be constant warfare. Prickly personalities rub us the wrong way in checkout lines, and drivers who cut us off or forget their turn signal irk us on the roads. At the office, coworkers with competitive streaks put our guards up. At home, a loved one’s bad day can fuel inconsiderate behavior that brings everyone down. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone responded to conflict by pulling out a weapon like anger, sarcasm or haughtiness. Pretty grim picture, right? Living in perpetual conflict is like living in a ticking time bomb.

Harvesting Happiness: 24 Virtues
Harvesting Happiness: 24 Virtues

Now, imagine a world where people bring a different kind of weapon to the table: Character strengths. Positive psychology gurus have developed a running list of 24 virtues that, when engaged, put a positive spin on a situation and our lives.

Here’s a taste of the traits on the list: Creativity, open-mindedness, honesty, zest, capacity to love and be loved, teamwork, modesty, gratitude and hope. If we each filled our arsenal with positive virtues like these, we would enter a potential conflict with the goal of resolving it in a way respectful to the other party involved. Sticking to our virtues is a simple way to overcome adversity and foster our positive traits.

The more we engage these positive virtues, the stronger they will become, and the happier everyone will be. Happiness comes from utilizing our values, not our armaments. Once you fill your arsenal with things like honesty, open-mindedness and modesty, you’ll be shocked at how well you can diffuse conflicts without the need for weapons of mass emotional destruction.

Happiness is an inside job®.

Happiness Strategy:

Imagine a hypothetical conflict between you and a friend. The situation arose after you unintentionally missed a lunch date you had scheduled with that friend. As you and your friend discuss the situation, you can hear his or her tone of voice sharpen. On a piece of paper, write down the first response that comes to mind. Think about what weapon you thought to engage: Who will it harm and who will it help?

Now think about what would happen if you engaged the positive virtue of being able to relate to another person’s perspective. Operating with this weapon, what would the rest of the dialogue between you and your friend look like? The next time a conflict arises, rely solely on your arsenal of virtues to resolve the situation.

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Lisa Cypers Kamen is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. She is widely recognized as an expert on the subject. Lisa’s acclaimed documentary film co-produced with her now fifteen year-old daughter, Kayla, “H-Factor…Where is your heart?” explores how people in varied circumstances find, generate and share happiness. In addition to her film on happiness, Lisa has also published a number of articles and books entitled, Got Happiness Now?, Are We Happy Yet?, Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed and Reintegration Strategies, about combat trauma and using positive psychology principles to create wellness in a post-war new normal. Lisa’s written work is featured on blogs for the Huffington Post, and and she is a TEDx community event speaker. In addition, she is the Happiness Expert for the Florida Department of Citrus/ Florida Orange Juice in its Take on the Day campaign.

Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that delivers stigma-free integrated combat trauma recovery services to warriors and their loved ones. Modalities include scientifically proven strengths based Positive Psychology coaching and interdisciplinary tools such as film, yoga, meditation, art and creative writing designed to mindfully empower the client to achieve increased self-mastery, self-esteem and reclaim her/his life. HH4Heroes focuses on the balance of mind, body and emotion resulting in greater overall wellbeing and the transformation of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). HH4Heroes offers retreat workshops, one-on-one coaching, Battle Buddy programs, as well as our new R.E.B.O.O.T Online virtual community coaching classrooms designed to reach underserved areas. In addition, HH4Heroes deploys Return to Duty™ civilian and corporate training to help welcome a warrior home and into the community and workplace.

Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.

For more information, please visit, and

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