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Strengths in Numbers

With the growth of the positive psychology movement, most of us are becoming more familiar with the idea of character strengths. As classified by the VIA Institute on Character, character strengths are 24 specific positive traits and qualities that make us unique. They help shape our interests and abilities, and include such things as creativity, gratitude, perseverance, honesty, teamwork, leadership and humor. VIA's assessment of strengths helps users identify which qualities are most prevalent in their own lives.  

Knowing which of the 24 character strengths are most present in your personality can help in virtually all areas of your life, from the playground to the boardroom. When you identify the traits that make you unique and then learn how to tap into what drives you, it can help you feel more engaged and excited in what you do.

Insight between two covers

With the release of the book Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life, editors Shannon Polly, MAPP, and Kathryn Britton, MAPP, have assembled an all-star lineup of positive psychology experts to take a closer look at character strengths. While many books have explained character strengths and their value, this volume goes one step further and provides actionable ways to apply your own strengths.

Each chapter focuses in detail on a different strength. Written by a different expert, every chapter includes short articles that show how this character strength may be used in everyday life and suggestions on ways to help build that strength. The chapters end with a few paragraphs that can be read aloud to help reinforce that strength for you.

Having many authors gives the book the feeling of a conversation among friends offering sage advice. (The one constant voice in each chapter is Tayyib Rashid’s “Five Actions,” which are his suggestions for ways to build each particular character strength in your own life.) 

Bite-size Learning

“Character Strengths Matter” isn’t the kind of book you’ll necessarily sit down and read cover to cover. The editors suggest choosing your personal strengths and finding out more about them by reading the corresponding chapter; you’ll learn new ways to apply and develop that strength. Or, if there’s an area you’re interested in learning more about —perhaps an area where you’d like to improve—select that for your initial reading.

Part of the beauty of this book is that each chapter is designed as a self-contained unit, and that allows the reader much more flexibility in how to approach and apply its contents. While the first section of the book explores character strengths, Part 2 is aptly titled “Taking Action” and delves deeper into how to better apply this newfound understanding of character strengths. 

Read more: Put Your Strengths to Work

Using your strengths

The approachable writing tone and many suggestions for how to better utilize character strengths make this feel like a cross between a workbook and a roadmap for better living. For anyone looking to better understand the value of character strengths – or to cultivate those strengths in his or her own life – “Character Strengths Matter” provides valuable insights. Whether you’re new to the study of character strengths, or are just looking for different ways to use your strengths, this book matters. 

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