Character strengths are the backbone of positive psychology, the science of how we thrive best in life with its ups and downs. Psychologist Dr. Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement, points out: "Human well-being is not a matter of just smiling and being happy. Well-being must be justified; it must be rooted in character strengths and virtues."
What are character strengths?
Character strengths are universal positive qualities in humans. They say something about how we think, feel and act, and this is exactly where we need a shift if we want to change something, or achieve something. Other inner resources are, for example, abilities (what you are good at) and skills (which are learned). When you are good at playing handball, you may have a flexible body and can think fast (abilities) and you have practiced a lot and learned the rules (skills). All this you would not have managed without your inner drive of, for example, teamwork (a character strength) that makes it completely natural for you to play on a team. Awareness of our character strengths gives us a framework and a common language first for ourselves, and next for others. We are often not aware of the innate inner resources we already have, or we have forgotten them. For many, it is an aha-experience when they gain insight into their top character strengths. Insight into and conscious use of strengths is an easy and engaging way to increase the feeling of mastery. By taking a real deep dive and really exploring your character strengths, you will find that you are more often in flow when you use character strengths, and that what you are doing gives meaning, value.
Recent research in neuroscience and social sciences shows that we can shape who we are and who we want to be. Awareness of and development of character strengths has shown to have a positive effect on our commitment, our well-being, our achievements and our relationships in both private and working life.
The VIA classification of 24 character strengths provides a framework, a language that promotes positive communication and positive relationships, which is sorely needed in our world today.
In the VIA strength profile, the 24 character strengths are ranked so that those at the top are most likely completely natural to you and form the core of who you are. These are your signature strengths. The others are also important and we can develop each of them. Instead of correcting weaknesses, we focus on how you can benefit from getting in touch with your positive personal strengths.
The science behind
In the early 2000s, researchers began to study character. The word "character" refers to the qualities that are peculiar to the individual, and different from person to person. A 3-year project with 55 prominent researchers was devoted to studying character traits through the ages. This resulted in VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), a classification of 6 virtues and 24 positive qualities in humans. Since then, hundreds of articles have been published across many cultures. One of the most important findings about character is that each person has a constellation of character traits (character strengths) that make him or her unique.