CORE VIRTUE – TEMPERANCE – Protecting against excess

I.  Forgiveness and Mercy: This strength involves forgiving those who have wronged or offended us. Forgiveness entails accepting the shortcomings of others, giving people a second chance, and putting aside the temptation to hold a grudge or behave vengefully. Forgiveness allows one to put aside the self-destructive negativity associated with anger and to extend mercy toward a transgressor.

Movies: Pay it Forward (2000), Terms of Endearment (1983), Dead Man Walking (1995), Ordinary People (1980)

Remember times when you offended someone and were forgiven, then extend this gift to others.

  1. Evaluate your emotions before and after forgiving someone.
  2. Understand from the offender’s perspective why he/she offended you. Then assess whether your reaction is hurting you more than offender.
  3. Make a list of individuals against whom you hold a grudge, then either meet them personally to discuss it or visualize whether bygones can be bygones.
  4. Meet a person who offended you in the past, especially if he/she is a family member. Tell them that you have forgiven them, or just be kind in your interaction with them.
  5. Ask for forgiveness from a Divine power according to your faith and assess how you feel afterwards.
  6. Pray for the noble behavior of your offender.Identify how a grudge tortures you emotionally.  Does it produce disruptive emotions (anger, hatred, fear, worry, sadness, anxiety, jealousy and such)?  Write three ways these disruptive emotions affect your behavior.
  7. Plan out what your response should be the next time someone offends you.  Remind yourself of your plan (rehearse if possible) and periodically affirm, “No matter how he/she offends me, I will respond as I have planned.
  8. Pray for the noble behavior of your offender.
  9. Identify how a grudge tortures you emotionally.  Does it produce disruptive emotions (anger, hatred, fear, worry, sadness, anxiety, jealousy and such)?  Write three ways these disruptive emotions affect your behavior.
  10. Imagine your offender and consider whether you have any payback fantasies.  Imagine in detail what might happen if you forgive the offender.  Journal your reactions.  Start with a moderate offense and continue till you achieve forgiveness and resolution.  During this exercise continuously remind yourself this is a forgiving exercise, not a grudge-holding one.

II.  Humility / Modesty: Humility and modest involve letting one’s strengths and accomplishments speak for themselves. Individuals with this strength do not need to have low self-esteem, but merely avoid seeking the spotlight and regarding themselves as better than others. Humble people are honest with themselves about their own limitations and the fallibility of their own opinions, and are open to advice and assistance from others.

Movies: Gandhi (1982), Little Buddha (1994)


  1. Resist showing off accomplishments for a week and notice the changes in your interpersonal relationship.
  2.  At the end of each day, identify something you did to impress people or put on a show. Resolve not to do it again.
  3. Resist showing off if you notice that you are better than someone else.
  4. Resist showing off when others shows off.
  5. Notice if you speak more than others in a group situation.
  6. Dress and speak modestly.
  7. Compliment sincerely if you find someone is authentic and better than you in some ways.
  8. Use environmental resources modestly (use recycled products, limit use of products which harm the environment, etc.).
  9. Admit your mistakes and apologize even to those who are younger than you.
  10. Utilize your sexual energies modestly (have one committed sexual partner).
  11. Ask a trusted friend for honest feedback about your weaknesses.


III.  Prudence: Prudence is a practical orientation toward future goals. It entails being careful about one’s choices, not taking undue risks, and keeping long-term goals in mind when making short-term decisions. Prudent individuals monitor and control their impulsive behavior and anticipate the consequences of their actions. This strength is not synonymous with stinginess or timidity, but instead involves an intelligent and efficient perspective towards achieving major goals in life.

Movies: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

  1.  Think twice before saying anything. Do this exercise at least ten times a week and note its effects.
  2. Drive cautiously and note that there are fewer time-bound emergencies than you actually think.
  3.  Remove all extraneous distractions before your make your next three important decisions.
  4. Consult with your significant others before making a final decision.
  5.  Visualize the consequences of your decisions in one, five, and ten years’ time.
  6. Do a risk-benefit analysis before making a final decision.
  7. Make important decisions when you are relaxed, not anxious or depressed.
  8. Before cheating or lying even for trivial things, ask yourself whether you will need ten more lies to hide the first lie.
  9. Avoid competitive situations that generally end in win-loss outcomes or in which you or your opponent have little chance to win.
  10. Don’t hesitate to check as often as necessary to ensure all relevant details of your next important task are covered.
  11. Evaluate the quality, efficiency, and wisdom of your next three projects and write down methods of improvement.


IV.  Self-Regulation [self-control]: Self-regulation is the process of exerting control over oneself in order to achieve goals or meet standards. Self-regulating individuals are able to control instinctive responses such as aggression and impulsivity, responding instead according to pre-conceived standards of behavior. This strength can apply both to resisting temptations, such as when a dieter avoids sugary foods, and to initiating actions, such as when someone gets up early to exercise.

Movies: Forest Gump (1994)

  1.  Set goals to improve your everyday living (e.g., room cleaning, laundry, doing dishes, cleaning your desk) and make sure you complete the tasks.
  2. Monitor and eliminate distractions (phone, TV, computer) while focusing on a particular assignment.
  3. Eliminate objects of temptation (dieting – don’t eat junk food; alcohol – don’t socialize in bars; smoking – replace cigarettes with chewing gum; shopping – leave credit card or money at home)
  4. Start a regular workout routine and make sure you stick to it.
  5. Next time you get upset, try to control your emotions and focus on positive attributes.
  6. Avoid talking about others in their absence.
  7. When you get upset, try to do a progressive relaxation
  8. Self-congratulate for self-regulation when you successfully resist an indulgence.
  9. Carefully create routines that you can follow thorough systematically.  Make minor adjustments as needed but keep the core elements intact.
  10. Establish a regular time and a place for most of your activities.
  11. Identify your role models and examine them in detail.  Let these details inspire and regulate your goals.
  12. Pay close attentions to your biological clock.  Do your most important tasks when you are most alert.
  13. Do partial or complete fasting or deliberately resist a comfort (e.g., chocolate, ice-cream, sex, TV) for a while. Reward yourself with it after accomplishing a challenging task.


‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’



Find out more about positive psychology courses and training at 

Share This