IT’S GOOD TO KNOW
what to look for
Previous: What is Character, Part 1
See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
PRINCIPLES of CHARACTER (C) (cont)
⚰︎ C Strengths (CS) are stable, but can & do change
While they are fundamental parts of our personality, these strengths can change in intensity or in focus, depending on predictable life events such as starting a family, unpredictable life events such as a trauma, and deliberate changes in lifestyle.
• ALSO, some traits may be prominent at one stage in life (being Adventurous but not Compassionate, Socially active but not Discrete…) while other traits may take prominence at other stages, as with experience & maturity (Decisiveness, Cautiousness, Self-control….)
⚰︎ CS are inter-dependent
In most situations people will express a combination of CS rather than one at a time. Interactions among strengths may enhance the expression of some but hinder the expression of others. For exp, it’s hard to be creativity without some level of curiosity, or to be kind without some amount of bravery…..while being discrete can limit the ability to be persuasive, and being truthful will modify one’s meekness ….
⚰︎ CS can be developed
While we’re born with CS, we can have them in different proportions (one person will be naturally higher on Courage, another on Cautiousness, one is higher on Ambition, another on Deference….). Yet the strength of our characteristics can be modified or enhanced with attention, experience & training. People can learn to be more curious, more grateful, more fair, more open-minded…. Specific interventions can have an impact on many CS, such as journaling, emulating others & goal-oriented planning. Practice can break old habits and form new ones
⚰︎ Character Traits (CT) are expressed in degrees
People express their strengths in different ways, depending on the event or setting -in degrees – rather than having a trait or not have it.
Social Psychology tells us that the details of the specific situation influences actual behavior. We may:
— normally be very Responsible, but on some occasions we’re not – because of how late we are, how much money we have at the moment, who we’re with, how upset we are ….
— use Social intelligence & Curiosity when with friends, Self-regulation and Prudence when eating, draw on Teamwork and Perseverance at work, use Love and Kindness with family….
• The degree to which a trait is expressed can depend on the people we interact with: we may be Restrained with a shy person or unsafe authority figure but Expressive with good friends or children, Diligent at work but Carefree on vacation…..
⚰︎ CS can be overused, misused, or under-used
Since we are all molded by our childhood experiences, our fundamental strengths can be repressed & then quickly forgotten, or expressed in unbalanced & harmful ways. For exp, Creativity can be misused in email spamming; overuse of Curiosity can lead people into dangerous locations, under-use of Fairness can lead to conflicted relationships. Balance and skill are the keys
⚰︎ CS have important consequences
The outcome of expressing one’s CS is likely connected to many benefits, such as increased happiness. This may be especially true regarding our signature strengths – the more intense ones that feel energizing & authentic which we use across many settings & are readily noticed by others. Over time, research may also reveal that each Cs has its own unique ramification. For exp, perseverance seems to be linked with achievement more than most other character strengths.
⚰︎ CS are universal
These strengths can be found in the most remote cultures and lands, shared by people with differing beliefs, religious affiliations, and political preferences. This makes applying character strengths more a matter of gathering & using the best parts of us, than picking ourselves apart.
(from Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D)
NEXT: Dimensions of C.