Technique 1.85 Virtues and Character Strengths


This is part of positive psychology and involves understanding your and others character virtues (6) and strengths (28) (Christopher Peterson et al, 2004).

The virtues and character strengths are

1. Wisdom and knowledge (creativity, innovation, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning & perspective)

2. Courage (bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality & zest)

3. Humanity (love, kindness & social intelligence)

4. Justice (team work, citizenship, fairness & leadership)

5. Temperance (forgiveness, mercy, humility, prudence & self-control)

6. Transcendence (appreciation of beauty & excellence, gratitude, hope, humour & spirituality)

You need to work on using your character strengths to handle the areas which are not your character strengths.

"...practical applications of positive psychology include helping individuals and organisations correctly identify their strengths and use them to increase and sustain their respective levels of well-being. Each trait provides one of many alternative paths to virtue and well-being..."

Christopher Peterson et al, 2004

The below diagram shows some character strengths found with CEOs, teachers, administers and professors



To determine your character strengths visit
and complete the questionnaire

Expanded definitions of the character strengths:

i) creativity (thinking novel and productive ways to do things)
ii) innovation (implementing of novel and productive ways to do things)
iii) curiosity (taking an interest in all ongoing experience)
iv) open-mindedness (thinking things through and examining them from all sides)
love of learning (mastering new skills, topics and bodies of knowledge)
vi) perspective (being able to provide wide counsel to others)
vii) bravery (not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty or pain)
viii) persistence (finishing what one starts)
ix) integrity (speaking the truth and presenting oneself in a genuine way)
x) vitality (being strong and active)
xi) zest (approaching live with excitement and energy)
xii) love (valuing close relationships with others)
xiii) kindness (doing favours and good deeds for others)
xiv) social intelligence (being aware of the motives and feelings of self and others)
xv) team work (working well as a member of a group or team)
xvi) citizenship (being a member of a particular group and respecting the rights of that group)
xvii) fairness (treating all people the same according to the notions of fairness and justice)
xviii) leadership (organising group activities and seeing that they happen)
xix) forgiveness (getting rid of negative feelings, action, etc about those who have done wrong)
xx) mercy (showing compassion and forgiveness to somebody)
xxi) humility (being modest and having a low opinion of one's importance)
xxii) prudence (being careful about one's choices; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted)
xxiii) self-control (regulating what one feels and does)
xxiv) appreciation of beauty & excellence (noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life)
xxv) gratitude (being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen)
xxvi) hope (expecting the best and working to achieve it)
xxvii) humour (liking to laugh and joke; bringing smiles to other people)
xxviii) spirituality (having coherent beliefs about a higher purpose and meaning of life)

(source: Martin Seligman, 2012)

Another way of looking at virtues is as 'bourgeois' or 'bohemian', ie 

- Bourgeois (based on traditional respectability and includes stoicism, humility, industriousness, punctuality, obedience, tidiness, sense of duty, etc)

- Bohemian (based on creativity, imagination, tolerance, open-mindedness, independence, sensitivity, authenticity, etc)

Too much emphasis on the 'bohemian' virtues can lead to chaos and fecklessness; while over-emphasis on the 'bourgeois' can lead to conformity and control.

There needs to be a balance.
(source: Louise Perry, 2021)

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