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What strengths are most associated with happiness and how do I develop them?

So let’s now look at the relationship between character strengths and well-being. Which strengths are most related to happiness and what good does that knowledge do us?  Well we are in luck in that there are ways to practice the 5 strengths most associated with happiness and build them up. By doing some of these activities, we can hopefully build our own sense of well being and at minimum render ourselves a little more informed.

According to Dr. Ryan Niemiec of the VIA institute of Character:


“The 5 character strengths most highly related to life satisfaction are hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity, and love. These strengths consistently and repeatedly show a robust, consistent relationship with life satisfaction (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004)”

I will briefly outline each strength as defined by the VIA institute and provide suggestions from Jon Haidt Ph.D. on how to develop each.

Hope –You are optimistic and expect the best to happen. You believe in and strive for an optimistic future. You can envision multiple pathways to reach your goals.

–          Keep a journal and every night write down a decision that made a positive impact on your life.

–          Try to turn negative events into positive ones. Look to where you can learn and grow from a negative event.

–          Write down positive quotes and revisit them on occasion.

Zest – You are enthusiastic toward life. You are very energetic and active. You fully utilize all your energy.

–          Get a good night sleep and eat a healthy breakfast.

–          Volunteer or help others.

–          Do vigorous physical activity in the morning. Note how it feels.

Gratitude – You focus on the good and being thankful for you have. You regularly experience and express happiness.

–          Keep a journal of things for which you are thankful.

–          Volunteer or help others.

–          Leave a note for a friend or family member thanking them for something for which you are appreciative.

Curiosity – You take an interest in learning about and understanding things. You are an explorer and seek novelty

–          Find a new word every day and use it in conversations (without being to annoying).

–          Change the look of a room at home or workspace.

–          Pick an object and try to come up with novel uses for it (a brick can be a paperweight).

The ability to love and be loved – You have strong emotional connections to others. You are able to both give and receive love.

–          Give a loved one a hug or a kiss (frequently and enthusiastically!).

–          Use a sticky note. (email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other media will work nicely).

–          Tell some one you love them.

So how can you find you own strengths? There are multiple sources, but I prefer the University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness page : (click on Brief Strengths Test in the middle column).

Alternatively, you can take a free survey at:

More next time.

Thanks for stopping by.