“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu
The concept of building on your character strengths is compelling as naturally, it has a practical impact on your thought process, your experiences and your actions. Mainly, the idea is to stop thinking about what is wrong with you or what are your problems and all the negative views of oneself and concentrate on your best qualities.
“The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in Psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life.” – Martin Seligman
Exerting mindful energy to change the gloomy, critical lens about yourself and shifting the view towards your positive qualities is a buffer against anxiety, lack of motivation, the need for approval or perfectionism. What makes us effective is our ability to master our strength, a stimulus of positive mind leading to a fulfilling life that contributes to our wellbeing.
Clearly, what makes us strong are the qualities that show high moral standards, in other words, “virtues”. In Character Strengths and Virtues, Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology and Christopher Peterson, identifies six classes of virtues shared practically in all cultures that made up 24 measurable dimensions of human strengths, based on scientific research and by extensive studies on all major religions and philosophical traditions:
Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, love of learning, perspective
Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity
Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self-control
Transcendence: appreciation of beauty & excellence, gratitude, hope, humour, spirituality
Developing the core capacities in human beings achieved by above-mentioned virtues help individuals maintain their state of wellbeing and live an accomplished life. To apply this concept, the positive psychology researchers have created tools and tests in a practical and rigorous scientific manner to identify the strengths of character measured by their virtues. The aim is to recognise your signature strength and practice it in new ways each day. For example, if your highest strength is creativity, each day you practice different ways to be creative whether in introducing yourself, blending creativity in your appearance, learning about a creative person, and so forth.
At the core of every individual lies specific character strengths that once honed solidly boost self-confidence gives a sense of direction and the drive to achieve goals. However innate talent is not enough to ensure a successful result. The ability to improve and play on your strengths while skillfully discern when, how and in what context your best qualities can amplify productivity and growth, is the key to success.
As you focus on improving your good character traits, positive emotions will take shape. This optimistic element encourages tenacity and helps to cope with your vulnerabilities and challenges. You can learn more about your character strengths for free on www.viacharacter.org. The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world through supporting research, creating and validating surveys of character, and developing practical tools for individuals and practitioners.
“Positive Psychology takes you through the countryside of pleasure and gratification, up into the high country of strength and virtue, and finally to the peaks of lasting fulfilment: meaning and purpose (Seligman 2002, p. 61).”
It is worth mentioning that we have a social responsibility for the benefit of society as a whole as well as to our individual lives to engage, be useful and lead a meaningful life. For us to fulfil this obligation, two of the fundamental elements that reinforce the wellness of our state of mind and enrich our life and life for others is to cultivate our strengths powered by optimism.