CHARACTER STRENGTHS WRAPPED UP
February 19, 2023
After reading and understanding what we need for great sleep, we’re wrapping up our final part of Character Strengths.
Well, here we are! The final instalment of our journey to understand, learn more of and hopefully foster the 24 character strengths that make up our personalities and have profound effects on the way we live, work, train and sustain our existence on this big blue and white marble spinning through the milky way galaxy. We’ve come full circle through the 6 broader “Virtue” categories: Courage, Wisdom, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and the last piece of the puzzle to consider is Transcendence… This covers subjects like our sense of gratitude, spirituality and how hope and humour can affect goals and our longevity!
Oxford Dictionary defines transcendence as “the ability to go beyond the usual limits; existence or experience beyond the usual level.”
Think about that for a few minutes!
- Spirituality: Do you have a sense of purpose? Are you looking for meaning or your ”calling” in life? What are your beliefs about the Universe? Scientists define spirituality as the search for or connection with “the sacred”. It is not just the multidimensional belief in the concept of the divine or an expression of religion. It “is believed to describe both the private, intimate relationship between humans and the divine, and the range of virtues that result from the relationships.” It is our manner of virtue, it makes us feel grounded, fuels our optimism and our sense of purpose in life.
- Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: Do you notice the beauty all around you? Can you appreciate Math alongside Art? A skilled feat or performance as much as Nature? Music as well as physical prowess? A vital skill to acquire is the ability to notice, value and respect the beauty in our everyday experiences.
“People high in Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence are responsive to these three types of goodness:
- PHYSICAL BEAUTY – This may include auditory, tactile, or abstract. This type of goodness produces awe and wonder in the person experiencing it.
- SKILL OR TALENT (EXCELLENCE) – This is often energising and compels a person to pursue their own goals. It inspires admiration.
- VIRTUE OR MORAL GOODNESS (MORAL BEAUTY) -Virtuous goodness makes someone want to be better, more loving and creates feelings of elevation.
Exercises focused on increasing appreciation of beauty and excellence have been shown to boost happiness and lower depression, in the short term and possibly beyond.”
- Humour: Are you able to realise the amusing in a set of circumstances? Have the ability to make people laugh or smile? Are you cheerful in the face of misfortune, always looking for the bright side and helping others view the silver lining?
Fostering a great sense of humour is invaluable in coping with stress and anguishing circumstances. It is helpful in social situations, positively building team strengths and moving the group toward common goals. Humourous people are well liked, often trusted for their insight and positivity, and are desirable in times of trouble. “It also means having a composed and cheerful view on adversity that allows an individual to see its light side and thereby sustain a good mood.”
- Gratitude: Do you take time to genuinely express your thankfulness to others? Do you feel gratitude and the deepest sense of appreciation for Life? Gratitude can be the thankfulness for a simple gift or kind thoughts or acts from someone, or thoughtful consideration of what a specific person contributes to your life experience. Profound recognition of “spontaneous treasures, such as a cool breeze on your face on a hot day.” People with a high sense of gratitude feel like they’ve been gifted the day, that there are a million things, both small and all-encompassing to be thankful for!
“Grateful people experience a variety of positive emotions, and those emotions inspire them to act in more virtuous ways – humbler, more persistent, or kinder. Gratitude tends to foster the character strengths of kindness and love, and therefore is closely associated with empathy and with connection to others.
There are two types of gratitude:
- Benefit-triggered gratitude = the state that follows when a desired benefit is received from a benefactor.
- Generalised gratitude = the state resulting from awareness and appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to yourself. There are two stages of gratitude:
- Acknowledging the goodness in your life.
- Recognising the source of this goodness is outside yourself.
Gratitude is one of the strengths most connected to the experience of a meaningful life. Gratitude also contributes to several physical and psychological health benefits, such as better cardiovascular and immune functioning.”
- Hope: Are you an optimistic person? Do you believe in the possibility of a brighter, better life? “The character strength of hope has to do with positive expectations about the future. It involves optimistic thinking and focusing on good things to come. Hope is more than a feel-good emotion. It is an action-oriented strength involving agency, the motivation and confidence that goals can be reached, and also that many effective pathways can be devised in order to get to that desired future.
Hope is one of the two character strengths most associated with life satisfaction and well-being. Hopeful people tend to be healthier, happier, and more successful. Hope leads to greater longevity.” People with a developed sense of Hope also have a profound feeling of trust and are aware that anything can be achieved with the right solution and dedication. Anything!
So, there you have it fellow Seekers! The 24 Character Strengths we all possess in varying degrees that dictate our personalities and how we live, learn, train, and achieve in life. Express your gratitude for those you feel are well developed, and goal set some ways to improve those that may be lacking.
*For further reading on the excerpts in quotation marks in this blog series, please refer to the VA Institute on Character https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths/love-of-learning
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