When you use your inborn character strengths in a new way, you will have increased happiness and decreased depression according to a report by Gander, Proyer, Ruch & Wyss, 2012.
The most prevalent character strengths in human beings in descending order are kindness, fairness, honesty, gratitude, judgment (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006).
The 2nd character strength:
Shared rules of fairness often appear as values. When two people look at something and agree to apply the same rules, fairness seems to be more agreeable and we are able to live in peace and harmony with each other.
We have been hearing the cry, “It’s not fair!” since we were children. However, I caught myself saying it as an Octogenarian this last Sunday while attending Sunday School. Our class is divided into two groups. Each of us has a habit of sitting on either the right or left side of the room. The speaker’s subject was about the origin of old hymns. After he spoke about the history of each song, he would ask us to sing it. There are a few people who habitually sit on the opposite side from me who are choir members with beautiful voices. As we were gathered in a circle at the end of the class to have our ending prayer, the president of the class was commenting on our singing. Without thinking (as usual) I said, “well, it was hardly fair for our side of the room, with all the beautiful choir voices on the other side of the room.” I have to hope I did not whine like I did as a child.
The following are some ideas to remember when we are faced with the thoughts of “What’s fair?”
Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.
This is when the Golden Rule comes to mind; if you would not want someone doing to you what you know in your heart is not right, then don’t do it to them.
Being fair to others is like ingesting a “feel good potion or a sleeping sedative.” We have all wished for that euphoria of sleeping like a baby. When we have treated others fairly, it is possible to relish this peace.
Communicate your thoughts on how people in your community are doing. Negotiations can sometimes lead to one party feeling that they are being treated unfairly. Most of us are looking for a “fair price” for the exchange however, what is fair to one might not be fair to the other. Here is where honesty plays a big role.
I consider myself a good negotiator. This has backfired on me more than once.
One of the times was when I purchased a new car in California a few years ago. I prided myself on my skill of bargaining with a car salesman, going from one to the other with a list of my requirements and the price I was willing to pay. I made what I thought was a sweet deal. The first trip I took in my shiny new car was from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona where it can get very warm. I turned on the A/C and it did not work. Since I lived by the Ocean in California there had not been any need for an air conditioner. I had always lived in Texas before where air conditioned cars came as standard equipment. Not so in California! Alas, I had failed to list an air conditioner on my list of equipment. When I returned home, I immediately contacted the car dealer to complain about the A/C not working. I was told the sad news.
Was I treated unfairly? At first, I thought so, but in reality I had not requested an air conditioner. I had to admit that I had not been specific in my list of accessories. I was wrong.
The perception of what people believe to be reality can differ between two or more people.
It is best to hear out the reality of what each believes to be true before assuming the truth.
Once those truths are revealed, the fair results can be settled.
Quid Pro Quo
What does this mean? According to the dictionary, Quid pro quo (“this for that” in Latin) most often means a “more-or-less exchange or substitution of goods or services”. Some of us are prone to think of this as an even exchange. But what if it is not? It would be a good experiment to try to be the giver. It would be a “What goes around, comes around,” results.
In my experience as a service provider, I have had this happen more than once when I entered into a bartering agreement. Most of us value our services at the top going dollar. However, is it time exchanged for time or is it dollar for dollar? It is usually when we are not specific that the misunderstanding occurs. I have come to the conclusion that it is better to pay for the service or item.
Fairness can also be equated to justice which is a concept based on ethics, rationality, natural law, religion, as well as the administration of the law.
Just recently, on the news was a story about a man that was held in prison for 27 years for rape. Some attorney with strong ethics and an inner strength of compassion went to court for him with new evidence that the DNA was not tested properly and the man was released after he had been robbed of his youth. He had been treated unfairly but his hero had come to his rescue using what he knew was right and was able to finally get justice for him.
When we are faced with the question, Is It Fair?, take the time to re-examine your values and check some of the above points. When there is a question in your mind, go back to what feels right, follow your intuition and then you can live in peace and harmony with yourself and the community.
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