If you have never heard of Positive Psychology, then listen up! This is not a toxic method of dismissing your negative symptoms. Positive Psychology just wants to ALSO assess your character strengths.
Character strengths? Basically, the idea is that if you are not utilizing your natural strengths, you are more likely to develop psychological stress or illness. If you are OVER utilizing them, you can also put yourself in a negative mental state.
Keep reading to learn more about Character Strengths and how to find out yours!
** This is NOT a sponsored post. I support and appreciate the work done by the Values in Action Institute, which is a non-profit organization. This post is to spread the word about their work and how you can benefit! See Reference List at the Bottom of Post **
Posted: May 6th, 2021
Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman have developed a list and descriptions for what they call our 24 Character Strengths. Not only that, but they have also categorized them into 6 virtues.
I’ll get more into these, but please note that these are NOT talents or abilities. They are more so related to moral features we hold.
I absolutely love reading about the work done by Positive Psychology advocates and look forward to implementing their many suggestions into my practice as a counsellor. Until then, I want to share the Character Strengths and Virtues, but why?
Why Know This?
There is evidence that if we use our natural strengths, we live more fulfilling and happier lives.
How is this possible? Welp, if you can find ways to use one or more of your character strengths regularly, you have a chance of improved mood.
It turns out my top strengths are Love, Perspective, Humour, Creativity and Curiosity.
I’ve written below where you can find out yours! But first, what are the character strengths and virtues?
6 Virtues & 24 Character Strengths
**The following list was created by the Values in Action Institute (VIA)**
For more details on each Character Strength CLICK HERE to see the VIA website.
To review just the list, read below! Virtues will be bolded, their descriptions normal and strengths that fall within the categories will be italicized.
I’ve also added some ways to add the Character Strengths to your life! For more detailed descriptions and ideas CLICK HERE
Wisdom & Knowledge
“Strengths that Involve Acquiring and Using Knowledge” (VIA)
– Utilize the arts (music, visual, electronic, comedy, poetry, writing, painting, drawing…)
– Brainstorm unique problem-solving ideas for common challenges
– Take a creative class of any interest
– Try new experience such as food, cultural, art, travel, etc.
– Expand your knowledge of others and your interests
– Do a new experience and critically think about your reactions or thoughts.
– If someone does something you start to judge, ask yourself why and seek their perspective.
Love of Learning
– Subscribe to news, books, audiobooks, magazines, forums, blogs for new information.
– Explore new experiences as learning opportunities.
– Discuss interests with peers.
– Reflect on moral, ethical, human consequence and other issues.
– Examine the world through a historical, cultural and socio-economic lens.
– Build a supportive network and share advice when asked.
“Emotional Strengths that Involve Exercise of Will to Accomplish Goals in the face of External or Internal Opposition” (VIA)
– Stand up for yourself and your beliefs, even if against other’s views.
– Report and ask questions about injustices.
– Create regular goals lists (small and large) and use checklists
– Challenge your capabilities and work hard.
– Avoid lies and omissions.
– Review your morals and how you will keep to those morals.
Virality or Zest
– Do activities that increase your energy such as exercise, fun socialization, watch comedy.
– Keep to a good sleep pattern.
“Interpersonal Strengths that Involve Tending & Befriending Others” (VIA)
– Give love by learning their love languages and doing what makes them feel loved.
– Increase time spent with loved ones or connecting with them.
– Small or large acts of kindness.
– Donate time or money to a cause.
– Do a regular gratitude practice and make at least one about a positive human interaction.
– Try to observe situations without judgement and learn from them.
“Strengths that Underlie Healthy Community Life” VIA
Citizenship & Teamwork
– Volunteer or find a career in an area that helps your community.
– Seek opportunities to help others individually or as a team.
– Be self-aware of how you act around people different from your background and assess if you can be fairer or promote better equality.
– Learn about social justice and ways to contribute positively.
– Find inspirational leaders and learn about their lives or methods.
– Lead a group, club, work project, sports team, etc.
“Strengths that Protect Against Excess” (VIA)
Forgiveness & Mercy
– Ask for forgiveness or give it to others (even if not stated to them)
– Write a letter you never send forgiving someone.
– Journal negative interactions and how you’d handle them next time.
Humility & Modesty
– Compliment others for big and small accomplishments/features.
– Avoid bragging about personal accomplishments or showing off.
– Take your time and avoid distractions when decision-making.
– Pay attention to ways you can make decisions to improve your life in a reasonable way.
Self-Regulation & Self-Control
– Set daily goals, schedules and to-do lists for small to stay on track.
– Avoid gossip and negative self-talk.
– Find healthy methods of coping you can use to stay regulated.
“Strengths that Forge Connections to the Larger Universe and Provide Meaning” (VIA)
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
– Create a home space that you love with sounds, colours and images.
– Seek beautiful things outside of your home such as museums, art, nature, etx.
– Implement a gratitude practice into your daily schedule (in the morning or before bed).
– Give thanks to others when they have done something for you (past or present)
Hope & Optimism
– Surround yourself with other optimistic and overall positive people.
– When something negative happens, journal about the lessons learned and how to cope.
Humour & Playfulness
– Seek comedic experiences such as movies, jokes, shows, comedy.
– Spend time with people who you naturally laugh with.
– Do regular activities that connect you with your higher power.
– Define your purpose and set goals on ways to reach or maintain it.
As I mentioned before, my character strengths are Love, Perspective, Humour, Creativity and Curiosity.
How do I implement these into my life?
Welp, as a stand-up comedian I get to use both humour and creativity.
As a blogger I become curious about many perspectives and use creative writing.
Counselling others, such as friends and patients, helps me with perspective and curiosity.
Connecting with support communities helps feed my love and spending time with loved ones.
There are plenty of ways that you can combine many traits into one activity or event! Sometimes we need to get a little creative, especially if you try to use your traits at work and in your personal life.
I know what you must be thinking, aren’t each of these wonderful strengths to possess?
Heck yes, they are all pretty great! The thing is, some will resonate more than others.
What we HOPE are our top strengths may be different than we anticipate. That is where the following survey comes in.
It is free and all you have to do is share some of your demographics for the purpose of study. I found it quite easy to do and really fun!
Don’t want to fill in online information? Take a peek through all of the descriptions by CLICKING HERE and you can determine them for yourself!
Do the VIA Survey of Character Strengths to learn yours.
Read THIS ARTICLE to learn more ways to add your strengths to your life.
Write down HOW you will add them to your life.
Keep track of how and when you use them. Plus, track if your mood improves.
Rashid, T. & Afroze, A. (2005). 340 ways to use VIA character strengths. https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/52486/340_ways_to_use_character_strengths.pdf
Rashid, T. & Seligman, M. (2019) Positive psychotherapy. In D. Wedding & R.J. Corsini (Eds.), Current Psychotherapies (11th ed.) 481-526. Cengage.
Values In Action Institute (2021) The 24 character strengths. https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths