The 6 Strengths of Character According to Positive Psychology

The 6 character strengths, defined by psychologists Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman in 2004, remain a reference . It was these two exponents of positive psychology who, after a detailed and long investigation, established what are considered as those virtues or potentials that every person can develop to invest in well-being, wisdom and happiness.

There are many who, in a way, think that the Manual of Strengths and Virtues is the very antithesis of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) itself. That is, while the latter focuses on assessing,  classifying and studying mental illnesses, the book by Seligman and Peterson seeks to be able to detect the strengths of the human being, its positive potential and its transforming virtues.

It is another approach, there is no doubt. One oriented rather to inspire us, to generate in us an internal revolution where to understand that, despite the difficulties that surround us, in each of us there are resources that we can activate . Thus, in each person they will highlight to a greater extent some strengths over others. However, it should also be noted that it is possible to be much more competent in each of them.

After all, psychological strengths do not come from the factory; many of them we acquire with our education, imitating other people who inspire us, and even, why not, being aware that certain dimensions improve our lives and that of others. Let’s see what they consist of.

What are the 6 strengths of character?

Thus, for psychologists and scientists at Harvard University like Howard Gardner , this work is one of the most interesting initiatives of the 21st century. It is because for once, it focuses on “the most positive of the human being.” In these 6 strengths of character, our goodness, our ability to give love, to apply justice, hope … All of them are the components of happiness for an ideal society, for a world where mental wellbeing would prevail.

On the other hand, one aspect should be highlighted: this issue is not new. Both Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas already defined in their day what they considered the dimensions for the good or the virtues of the human being . Seligman and Peterson, also based on these theories to develop a list of dimensions that can be measured to tell us, what are our strengths of character. They are the following :

1. Wisdom and knowledge

One can have an intellectual potential above average, however, the IC does not make us wise . In fact, one of the characteristics that precisely defined Albert Einstein was this same strength: that of wisdom. This concept integrates dimensions such as creativity, indefatigable curiosity, the desire to learn, to always keep an open mind.

2. Courage

What is courage? This is one of those 6 essential strengths to navigate the first leg . It gives us more than courage, it is motivation to face daily adversity , it is persistence, integrity, enthusiasm and vitality to overcome ourselves.

3. Humanity

Who owns humanity, creates bridges between people and brings hope to the world . This dimension symbolizes who cares for others in an active way and not only through the banner.

Define who likes to connect with who has close authentic; to those who are interested in their needs, their personal reality It is he who knows how to give affection, who listens, is kind and transforms our reality in a silent, but persistent way.

4. Justice

No advanced and wise society could exist without the sense of justice. This is another of those 6 strengths of character that we should all develop in full. Through it, we assume our social responsibility with ourselves and others, we defend what is noble, what is suitable for the whole through loyalty and respect.

5. Temperance

Temperance is one of those words that we don’t use too often. It seems somewhat chivalrous, as brought from another era. However, this term remains equally useful and necessary.

Define who does not fall into excesses, people who know how to regulate and maintain self-control. It is also to apply calm in times of storm, knowing how to make use of forgiveness and not of hate, of piety and not of anger.

6. Transcendence

The latter of the 6 character strengths enunciated by Seligman and Peterson cannot be more inspiring. Being transcendent or applying transcendence means having a purpose and wanting to aspire to excellence .

It is, in some way, that summit that Abraham Maslow spoke to us with his theory of human needs, that self-realization where we appreciate and care about aspects such as hope, beauty, coherence, spirituality …

To transcend is to go beyond the visible, to embrace the immensity of knowledge and feel free as well as responsible.

To conclude, it is very possible that if we applied the tests developed by Seligman and Peterson to evaluate our strengths of character, we would score high on more than one of these dimensions. However, the ideal would be to be skilled in all, to be excellent strategists in the art of justice, wisdom, courage, humanity …