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Character Strengths

Did You Take Your Mental Health “Pill”?

Deposit Photos/VIA Institute

You probably engage in a variety of daily habits, for example: checking your email, brushing your teeth, or perhaps taking a vitamin/medication. What if we added one more quick habit to your day: "using 1 of your signature strengths in a new way". What kind of mental health benefits could you gain?

Over the recent years I have found that one of the most overlooked pathways for...
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Character Strengths

Your Vote is Probably Based on Character

Just a month ago the VIA Institute on Character launched a new survey that asked people what character strengths are essential in a great President. The survey then invited the user to rate the character strengths of the Presidential candidates.

The results are in!...just in time for Election Day. I’ll start with the conclusions and then offer more details.


Regardless of political affiliation or preference in this election, the top 4 character strengths of the “ideal President” are:
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Character Strengths

The Strengths Junkie Plays Chess

I’m a bit of a “strengths” junkie. I study character strengths. I read about them, e-mail about them, teach and write about them, and study them. It seems that I’m thinking about character strengths much of the time – which one’s I’m using, how strengths work together, how they can hurt me, and how they can help me be my best.

So, it was no surprise when my mind started rattling off the character strengths I was using while playing
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Character Strengths

A Mother’s Day Challenge

Holidays are catalysts for character strengths.

Each holiday poses a special opportunity to awaken us from our slumber and activate one or more strengths.  It seems that in the U.S., the culture collectively turns its attention to a particular strength each holiday. Consider the following:

Thanksgiving – gratitude
Christmas/Hanukkah – kindness/generosity and for some, spirituality
Easter (i.e., the weeks leading up to it) – self-regulation
4th of July – zest
New Years Day – hope

What about Mother’s Day? Many strengths are great contenders on this holiday. However, it is unlikely that any can topple the importance of love.
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Character Strengths

Can Character Strengths Save Your Life?

I recently watched the reenactment of a story of a young man, Dave, who decided he would impress a group of friends by swimming across a Florida canal to a pier and back. Dave’s friends were gathered at a cottage home, celebrating a recent college graduation. They were busy reminiscing, telling stories from their recent past and speculating where they might find themselves a year or two from now.

When Dave suggested he would dive in and swim to the pier, the friends softly resisted but they knew that once Dave got an idea in his head he refused to give it up; it was already a foregone conclusion.

The problem is he went for a swim in water that was teeming with alligators.
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Character Strengths

The Psychology of the Underdog

Four wins, 104 losses. That was the all-time record of the teams seeded at #15 heading into this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament for men. This year, in their first game, the #15-seeds went 2-2.

This is why people love the NCAA tournament: A chance to root for the underdog!

Not intimidated by their powerhouse opponents, Norfolk State and Lehigh exercised a David vs. Goliath fearlessness as they competed hard, improving their “fight” as the game progressed. The crowds rallied behind these underdogs excited for the distant possibility of an upset. Many of the fans had never heard of these schools before this month yet fans were jumping up and down with such passion and zest that one would think their own child was playing in the game.

How could this be? What is the psychology behind this underdog phenomena?
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