Every single one of us goes about our lives not fully knowing what strengths fuel us, and the qualities that each of us embody. We might know that one person is the funny one in the group, or another is a very kind person, but what we don’t know is our specific top strengths; the strengths that drive our actions and decisions, the strengths that make us authentic and happy, the strengths that help us through the worst times. They are the parts of our personality that affects how we feel, think, and behave – those strengths we should all know.
Why should we know our character strengths?
To put it simply – to improve our lives. It’s about knowing what defines you, and how that can improve your relationships and well-being, and help you overcome problems. Knowing our character strengths helps us to not focus on what’s wrong with us, and instead focus on our strengths and how they can help us. We all have had bad experiences, some worse than others, but those experiences cannot define us. Using our strengths can help us figure out how to avoid them in the future, or just how to get through them.
You’re probably wondering what “strengths” I’m talking about.
Research sponsored by the VIA Institute has discovered that there are 24 central character strengths that we ALL have at some level. These are:
- Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence 13. Kindness
- Curiosity 14. Leadership
- Creativity 15. Love
- Bravery 16. Love of Learning
- Fairness 17. Perseverance
- Forgiveness 18. Perspective
- Gratitude 19. Prudence
- Honesty 20. Self-regulation
- Hope 21. Social Intelligence
- Humility 22. Spirituality
- Humor 23. Teamwork
- Judgment 24. Zest
I highly recommend for everyone to take the VIA Character Strengths Survey, to find out your top personality strengths out of these 24 strengths listed above.
Once you find out your top character strengths, you will then know what strengths you have that you can practice and be aware of as you go about your life. For instance, If your top 4 strengths are kindness, curiosity, forgiveness, and honesty, here are some ways you can practice these strengths:
- You can practice kindness with your friends and family by offering them a random act of kindness every day, like helping a family member with chores, or giving a friend an honest compliment.
- You can practice curiosity in many ways – for example you can bring curiosity to your relationships by just asking your friend or whoever it is questions about their day or how they’re feeling. You can practice being curious by asking more questions in school, trying a new activity, exploring new foods and places, or by trying to meet new people.
- You can practice forgiveness by allowing yourself to move past the negative feelings and move forward to more positive experiences. If you get in an argument with someone, talk through things with somebody who will be there for you instead of bottling up your emotions and not talking to anyone at all. Reflect on their perspective and try to let go of resentment.
- You can practice honesty by always giving your honest opinion and just being authentic. You can also practice honesty by being honest with yourself, by noticing your personal struggles or your bad habits and owning up to it.
Being aware of my own character strengths has opened my eyes to the way I live my life – for instance how I interact with people, the decisions I make, the activities I gravitate towards, and how I cope with problems. Overall, knowing my top strengths has honestly helped me understand myself as a person even further. Perhaps if everyone knew what their character strengths are our world might be a little less chaotic, as we would understand ourselves as well as each other a lot better.