Character Strengths

There are 24 character strengths (CS) that a person can possess, each within a  category of six different virtues, which are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence  (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). These CS are reminders of the best qualities of one’s personality. CS have value in other areas of human flourishing as well. Character strengths are positively related to academic success (indicators such as GPA) and academic satisfaction (Rashid & Seligman, 2008; Lounsbury, Fisher, Levy & Welsh, 2009). There are human strengths (CS) that act as buffers against mental illness. Much of the task of prevention in this century will be to create a science of human strength whose mission will be to understand and learn how to foster these virtues in young people.

Knowing the best qualities of a person can help improve many aspects of life. One woman, having taken a survey provided by the Values in Action (VIA) Institute on Character about her signature CS, discovered that self-regulation was her 24th or last strength, meaning it was the one she was worst at. Distraught at this discovery, she worked on self-regulation and took the survey again years later. It moved from 24th to second place (Niemiec, 2017). CS that are weaknesses don’t have to remain weaknesses. They can be improved. CS are also relevant and promote flourishing– experiencing positive emotions, social experiences and growth that are associated with “happiness, flow, meaning, love, gratitude, accomplishment” and so forth (Seligman, 2012)– in many different domains of life (Wagner, Pindeus, & Ruch, 2021). Because CS are relevant in multiple aspects of life, knowing personal CS can cultivate improvement in those aspects. 

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