Character Strengths

How Can I Find Some Strength?

Image credit @georgiadelotz

We’re immersed in a challenging time. We have all been in isolation for at least a week, others even longer than that. We have been forced into spaces sometimes with people we would rather not spend time with. Since Sunday we have been ordered to stay inside unless a venture out of the house is strictly necessary. And we have been told that this is for the good of everyone, in order to help the NHS save as many lives as possible. There has been an incredible show of community and solidarity for the most part, with people coming together and helping, with kindness, gratitude and service. 

However, internally for us, our moods will be varying; patience might be waning, a feeling of trapped might be descending upon us. The panic and fear might be receding as the reality hits – we need to stay home, and we don’t yet know how long for. 

There are many lovely ideas and tips being shared in many communities in order to help us through this time. And we have put some on our previous blog posts too. We want to help you not only survive this historical time but also to help you to thrive. 

I’m sure almost all of us are wanting to find some more strength. Whether it be dealing with being inside when we want to be out, feeling cooped up, feeling irritated by noisy neighbours…and perhaps also wondering when we will be able for sure to see an end to this global isolation and the insecurity that might come with that not-knowing. 

Research reveals that people who use their strengths a lot are 18x more likely to be flourishing than those who do not use their strengths.”

VIA Institute

Today’s blog introduces the VIA Institute on Character Strengths. Some of you will be familiar with this already – for you I hope this is a welcome reminder. Others of you will not have come across this yet and for you, I hope it is a welcome new project. 

The VIA Institute, in 2001, set out as a not for profit organisation, to encourage people to find their top strengths in order that they can lead more fulfilling and nourishing lives. Their team of researchers came up with and defined 24 character strengths that they say each human being possesses, but in varying degrees depending on our personality. They further grouped these 24 character strengths into 7 categories. I have listed the 7 categories below, along with the character strengths pertaining to the category alongside so that you can see:

  • Wisdom: Creativity – Curiosity – Judgment – Love of Learning – Perspective
  • Courage: Bravery – Honesty – Perseverance – ZestHumanity: Kindness – Love – Social Intelligence
  • Justice: Fairness – Leadership – TeamworkTemperance: Forgiveness – Humility – Prudence – Self-Regulation
  • Transcendence: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence – Gratitude – Hope – Humour – Spirituality

Given we all possess those strengths in varying degrees, does it not make sense to find out which ones to us personally are the strongest? I think so. 
The VIA has a fantastic quiz – it doesn’t take long to complete – that then enables you to see your character strengths in order.

⁠⁠I retook the quiz this morning, and my top 5 strengths (our of the 24) were the following:⁠⁠

  • Spirituality
  • Love
  • Perspective⁠
  • Gratitude⁠
  • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

⁠⁠So I am going to play to these strengths. I am consciously going to think about what I can do, today, that will play to each of my top 5 strengths. Cos it’s much easier and more lovely to strengthen what we already have, right? ⁠

For me this will look like:⁠⁠

  • Making sure I do my meditation and stay connected to my spiritual source.
  • Consciously showing others love even more. Calling people who I care about to see if they are ok. ⁠
  • I’m grateful to have perspective during these tricky times. I will continue to remember to keep things in the day! ⁠
  • And gratitude – Perhaps its time to write that gratitude letter today – not forgetting my gratitude list as well. I know a few people who I want to say thank you to.

So apparently I appreciate beauty and excellence. So I’ll find something in my home that I really appreciate looking at, and I will consciously enjoy it today. Maybe that means doing the hoovering, or washing the windows, or looking at a favourite picture and really enjoying it. I’ll see. ⁠⁠

Image credit @achaqrki85

This is me playing to my strengths. Not only will this make them stronger, but it will also increase my sense of well-being at the same time. ⁠⁠If you want to find out your top strengths so that you can consciously work to strengthen them today, have a go at the VIA Quiz. It takes 5-10 mins max to complete online and it is completely free of charge. When you are completing it, be sure to answer completely truthfully as to what you believe – be careful not to answer how you would like to believe. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one on getting an accurate reading. Click on the link below.

https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register

Once the quiz has generated your strengths, think about what you can do, today, in order to play to your strengths. 

You might even want to look at the bottom 5 in order to have some compassion for yourself if one of your lesser strengths isn’t working out so well for you. We are all human! 

Enjoy, and I hope this helps you to find some strength. Because remember, we want to help you not only survive this historical time but also to help you to thrive.

Author: Lucinda Gordon Lennox

Lucinda works at The Recovery Centre, which has clinics in London and Edinburgh.

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