Quite a Character

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Oscars Psyche

50 Million People watch the Oscars! Why?

Did you know that more than 50 million people watched the Oscars? That's a lot of people! 50,000,000! What's up with that?

There is the moment for each award - the moment of suspense. The presenters name all of the contenders and the camera shows us each of them awaiting their fate. Then there is the inevitable fumbling with the envelope, and the drawn out reading of the winner's name. We are shown the winner's initial reaction of complete satisfaction and hugging from family and co-workers followed by the acceptance speech thanking those who helped the winner reach that moment in their life. In between that happening time and again we are titillated with sexy images and some entertainment.

Fifty-million people won't be watching for the entertainment or even the sexy images. They will be watching because the show demonstrates what we all long for in the deepest recesses of our psyche - affirmation. Not to get all existential or anything, but we live our lives on the backdrop of anxiety about our goodness and our acceptability. Many messages we get in life point to how we are not good enough or not attractive enough to others. And, unfortunately, most of us do a poor job telling others when we do think they are great. Positive feedback s far less common than negative feedback: hence, the popularity of positive psychology. There is growing recognition worldwide that we need to do a much better job celebrating and leveraging our strengths - what's best about us. No matter how much self-affirmation we can muster, most of us really, really appreciate affirmation from others.

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The Oscars represents the playing out of this human drama - living diligently in a landscape where affirmation is occasionally found. It is a sweet drink on our long journey. Watching the Oscars gives us a vicarious jolt of satisfaction. It gives us optimism that affirmation awaits us. And, it awakens our gratitude for the people and things that we do have in our lives. Each and every acceptance speech is one of gratitude. The show is a gushing gratitude orgy.

Affirmation. Gratitude. Repeated over and over in dramatic fashion with highly pleasing visuals accompanying it all. What a recipe for success! My wish is that we all tried to make each and every day and Oscars event for one another. Tell the people around you how much you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. Don't assume it is being "said without words". And, live your life with a diligent commitment to living it authentically for that is the only way that affirmations from others will ever have the meaning that you want. The sweetest reward of affirmation is when it comes in response to you being your true self. Pay special attention to your signature strengths of character for they are the core around which you can build an authentic life.

Go forth and produce your own Oscar show every day. You choose the winners. You give the acceptance speeches.

Neal Mayerson, Ph.D., is the founder and Chairman of the nonprofit VIA Institute on Character.

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