Character Strength

Character Strength

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Character strength influences positive behavior. If developed and used correctly, character strength can help individuals navigate life challenges and ensure their wellbeing. Recent events over the last three years have shown that character strengths help individuals flourish regardless of the challenges they face. Character strengths are positive qualities that have the power to shape perspectives, promote positivity and ensure the wellbeing of individuals.

Important Concepts on Character Strengths

Character strengths affect feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Character strengths are universal, and they focus on the positive aspects of life, they influence wellbeing, and they help counteract negative emotions. According to Peterson and Seligman (2004) character strengths highlight the key elements of core values. They are measured through a survey of character strengths known as the values in action inventory (VIA). These values and traits are what people of all ages and cultures consider positive and good. As character strengths are universal traits, they are respected by people of all cultures and beliefs, and are evident through people’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior (McGrath, 2015). Character strengths are classified into twenty-four strengths that fall under six categories of virtue. People from all parts of the world classify these categories and traits uniformly, and they represent the different human characters that determine human values and traits. A standardized and uniform classification serves as a tool of common language. For instant, a kind person from one region and culture is viewed as kind across all regions and cultures. The use of a common language makes it easy to describe peoples’ characters and inspire positive change. For instance, by taking a VIA survey, one can easily make comparisons about their strengths and virtues and create an action plan that helps them develop their strengths (Truempy, 2014). Developing character strengths is crucial in ensuring personal and professional success.

Another important aspect is that character strengths directly influence wellbeing. By taking a VIA character strength survey, individuals can learn the strengths they have and equally measure the degree to which they possess these strengths. Understanding one’s strength is a form of self-awareness as one can easily describe the core of who they are. Self-awareness contributes to wellbeing (Niemiec, 2017). Various studies have shown that people that are self-aware are less likely to suffer from depression as they are happier and are aware of different aspects of their lives (Seligman, 2015). Over time, these positive effects foster self-confidence that further contributes to an individual’s wellbeing. Character strengths help people focus on positives, a trait that negates negative emotions. It is human nature to focus on the negative aspects of life, and this is evident through people’s tendencies to focus on negative experiences over positive experiences. Character strengths highlight positives, and this helps people focus on the good in their lives. Focusing on positive aspects of life counteracts human’s nature to focus on negatives experiences and emotions, and it helps people feel authentic to themselves and their beliefs ((Niemeic, 2017).

Some of the models and interventions used to identify and encourage the development of character strengths include the strength spotting and the aware-explore-apply model. Strength spotting is a technique that enables one to spot the character strengths in other individuals. Through this technique, people can be more conscious of how others use their strengths and emulate these positive traits. In a professional set up, strength spotting is important as it helps team leaders identify positive traits in different individuals and create efficient teams in which all team members have complimentary traits. This approach to creating teams ensures overall success and the attainment of goals. Other than promoting teamwork, strength spotting encourages people to compliment other individuals. Compliments serve as a means of appreciating other people’s skills and it helps strengthen work relationships. Also, strength spotting is beneficial in instances in which individuals are required to employ several character strengths. For instance, workplace conflicts are a common occurrence. To solve these conflicts effectively, individuals involved are required to focus on the positive and employ a variety of character strengths (Pawelski). A positive environment and the use of various character strengths allows for the use of various conflict resolution approaches. The result of this process is the use of efficient problem-solving methods that encourage the development of individual character strengths.

On a personal level, strength spotting is important in promoting happiness and personal growth. The ability to identify one’s positive traits boosts confidence, motivates one to be better, and contributes to individual happiness. Character strengths are dynamic in nature; therefore, one can identify various attributes about themselves that they want to nurture and develop. This approach promotes positive life experiences that are not dependent on prevailing life circumstances. For instance, during the onset of the pandemic, it was easy for people to fall into a state of paranoia and hopelessness. However, people that chose to develop their sense of gratitude focused on the positives in their lives. This focus on the positives helped them create cheerful memories and experiences.

The aware-explore-apply strength model involves a three-step process that promotes positive change. The first step in this model is awareness and it involves identifying character strengths and the common language used. Explore is the next step in this model and it involves connecting identified strengths to lived experiences and individual traits. The last step in this model is apply and it involves utilizing strengths in daily life. This model is repeatedly applied in all aspects of life, and it helps foster permanent character strength growth as one intentionally integrates various character strengths into their daily life.

Real Life Experience

A while back my friends and I decided to celebrate our reunion after spending time apart by going on vacation. I was tasked with the responsibility of choosing a vacation destination and planning the logistics of how we would get to the location I selected. I tend to take time when making decisions and often it results in delays. A week into the planning, one of my friends called to find out the location I had picked out. At the time, I had not yet decided on a specific location; therefore, my friend offered to help me fulfill my task. I was grateful for the help and given how excited she was I took a step back and let her take charge of making decisions.

In three days, my friend decided on a location and had started planning the logistics of the trip. A week into the planning, my friend called me angrily and expressed frustration and anger over my “lack of input”. While I agree that I had let her take full control of the planning, I felt angry that she did not notice the effort I put into planning the trip. The location she ended up choosing was a suggestion I had made. Also, I had sent her a detailed email that contained information on the travel agents we could use during our vacation. The email also contained details about suitable hotels that we could use. Her call made me feel disappointed, angry, and defensive because contrary to her view, I had fulfilled my obligation. During that phone call, I chose not to say anything and instead listened to all her grievances until she hanged up.

I had long noticed that my friend has a strong sense of leadership and teamwork. These qualities are useful in accomplishing tasks as one can take charge and ensure that goals are met. As I have previously highlighted, I had long noticed my friend’s sense of leadership and teamwork. As such, I was confident that letting her take charge of my duties would benefit our group as she would make good decisions at a faster rate. Also, as I was aware that she possessed these qualities, I was certain that she could perform my tasks better that I could.

Though my friend’s call made me angry I chose to utilize my sense of self-regulation by controlling my emotions and remaining silent. Self- regulation ensures that one uses appropriate actions (Truempy, 2014). In my case, it involved remaining silent and controlling my anger. Given a chance to go back, I would change this experience by becoming a better team member that participates more in the decision-making process. Increased participation would help show my friend that I was interested and invested in our vacation plans. I would also be more honest about my thoughts and my inability to make decisions quickly. Honesty would help me become more responsible for my actions. It would also reassure my friend that I had not intentionally left all my decision-making responsibilities to her. I would also practice appreciation of excellence. Through this strength, I could commend my friend for her skills and efforts in the planning and decision-making process. The use of this character strength would show my friend that I appreciated all her efforts in organizing a memorable vacation.

Character strengths influence positive change and shape people’s perspectives. Therefore, developing a multitude of character strengths is important as it ensures growth and encourages happiness and wellbeing. People should try to identify and develop their character strengths as it will guarantee positive life experiences.


McGrath, R. E. (2015). Character strengths in 75 nations: An update. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 41-52.

Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Character strenghts interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Hogrefe Publishing.

Pawelski, J. (n.d.). James Pawelski: 3.3 Signature Strengths the Positive Psychology: Applications and Interventions MOOC from Penn ́s Positive Psychology Center (7min)

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press.

Seligman, M. E. (2015). Chris Peterson’s unfinished masterwork: The real mental illnesses. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 3-6.

Truempy, K. (Producer). (28 September, 2014). The Positive Psychology Podcast episode 006: Ryan Niemiec on Strengths. (Audio File) Retrieved from happinesstoyourearbudswithkristentruempy/006-ryan-niemiec-on-strengths-the- positive-psychology-podcas