What are strengths and virtues?

A summary from my dissertation.

In this explanation, I do not want to bore you with too much theory. I am trying my best to keep my summary short.

Positive psychology

The field of positive psychology is filled with research that tries to define or quantify happiness. As a result researchers are asking what characteristics lead to an individual’s happiness and well-being. Most noteworthy, is the manual written by Peterson and Seligman. Their manual is all about classifying positive psychology into usable tools. Furthermore, their work includes the largest collection of research. This is why I believe my blog can be useful, because my focus is to explain this system using simple everyday analogies.

How did it start?

Pre-dating 1998, little scientific research explored the role of positive emotions and strengths in the prevention and treatment of mental health. All of this began to change when Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association (Bacon, 2005).

Seligman believed psychology placed too much focus on mental health as an illness. He wanted to encourage research that explored the positive consequences that can come from negative experiences. Seligman and other positive psychology researchers set about redefining mental health in terms of ‘well-being’. What does it mean to be well? Well being is no longer just the absence of illness or dysfunction. To be well is a distinct state of existance with its own traits.

New Classification system

Hence this new line of thinking showed that character strengths are tools that promote optimal functioning. Even in the face of trauma, positive consequences were possible if strengths were utilised. However, there was still a problem of classifying strengths. This is because positive emotions are all so multi-faceted. Therefore, the manual of sanities became such an important tool. Peterson and Seligman’s classification of six virtues and twenty-four-character strengths is the most inclusive classification system in positive psychology. In addition, it provides a legitimate means of referring to strengths in a way that is measurable and therefore makes psychological well-being possible.

What does the classification system look like?

Firstly, there are the six core virtues. These virtues are;

  • Humanity (This virtue promotes altruistic pro-social behaviour)
  • Wisdom (These cognitive strengths involve gaining and applying knowledge)
  • Courage (These emotional strengths necessitate restraint to accomplish goals)
  • Justice (civic strengths lay the groundwork for a healthy community and society)
  • Transcendence (This virtue is about a search for meaning and purpose)
  • Temperance (These strengths promote a virtue of moderation).

Secondly, there are the twenty-four-character strengths that are the core ingredients to well being. Finally, the third level is the one in which habits of behaviour turn into strengths, for instance, optimism and empathy lead to kindness .

In conclusion, do not stress if all of this seems a little confusing. It will become more clear as we go through each virtue. You will see for yourself what I mean, but you are always welcome to ask questions.

P.s. Picture: Irini Simitci-Green

10 replies on “What are strengths and virtues?”

I wish you the best.. You see I’m learning.. and realized just to refer to original email. Will file for easy access.
I’m sure Nicholas helped with this format alongside his clever wife. My question is about focus. I think always a dreamer.. I have to do everything twice.. Possible relative too to our peoples suffering and missing the kiddies.. not fearful however as we are trying just to keep clean and safe. Do you have a platform to share posts from others.. Or would that be a privacy issue? You are so smart and remain so humble. Proud of you

… good lessons and some huge laughs as well. Please include Adrian on email. We could then work on your philosophies and ideas together. At the moment, besides trying to keep the dog busy in the garden with no grandchildren to keep us entertained, and as so many families miss our children and grandchildren dearly, he is studying his French reading through his collection of Asterix books. I’m crocheting a blanket which I hope to raffle for Sofia’s Rallim. He cooks I garden and look after our home. I read.. when focused.. watch the news, he follows all the old sporting events and so on. We are kind to each other and appreciative of the luxury we are afforded as so many are not! We get together to watch some light hearted series. We are positive but with concerns of this dreadful disease infecting our people.. those we know, those we love. Off to read of character strengths and virtues and how to apply them in difficult moments.. in how our lives are impacted and forever changed to a new reality… Thankful for Rhamaposa trying what he thinks will help all of us.. our precious families.. Our communities who suffer so at the best of times. I love you

Thank you for the beautiful feedback and update xxx
Please can you ask Adrian to go onto the blog himself to subscribe.
The system I am using prevents me from just adding people, even if I have their permission.
It is to protect my readers so that I do not go against their will xx

To family and friends working from home
Trying to keep our economy goin’
Spending time in their homes, though some are alone
Others with family, making the most of this reality
Moms and Dads stay healthy keep strong in taking time out: ‘Mapping your homes’ instead of lazing about:)
If I can help with anything just give me a shout!
May I have the kiddies today?
Oh no I forget, oh dear, not just yet!
These photos of them will see us through
Yes my sweethearts they’ll just have to do! so proud Nana loves you! So for now>
Let’s go with what we have, if we’re that blessed
Time with your loved ones, maybe sometimes a test!
Whilst children are taught free thinking at home
We’re training doggie not to go out alone
no walkies outdoors nor on our shores
But strict instructions! go catch your ball this is best for us all!’
When you ask yourself a question as to when this will end?
United as citizens we keep in virtual contact with friends.
If sometimes strange thoughts roll around in our heads
Remember the gatherings we all once shared
May they bring smiles to your face, a giggle or two
We shall do it again ..A life anew!
As we stay-in-place may Gods good grace heal our land as tall we stand!
In the meantime those hobbies or those things to do
May they bring pleasure and a homemade something or two!
A shout out and thank you and pray you’ll be fine
To our nurses and doctors on the front line
Our hearts reach out at this very harsh time
your courage your humanity your transcendence
On you many’s dependence!
You seem to do just what you do! taking care of our communities
You stand as one in brave unity.
For the rest of us try to remove hurts, any judgements that play on our mind
Bringing peace bringing wisdom of a renewed kind.
To those who made our lives easy before
The way you worked so hard I cannot ignore! thank you one and all!
And if sometimes we think oh a long day ahead
I’ll remind myself of those who have less! and
Remember seal Frankls advice “start by making your Bed!’

Such a gorgeous way of giving expression to what is happening during this time. I just love it. Thank you so much for sharing xx

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