Perhaps the most well-known happiness technique that has emerged from positive psychology is the encouragement to use our own strengths more often, and to avoid spending too much time fixing our weaknesses. Researchers are finding that people are happier when they know and embrace the personal qualities that come most easily to them-their talents-and use them in new and clever ways to accomplish their goals.


The Six Virtues


These six virtues are the core characteristics endorsed by almost all religious and philosophical traditions, and taken together they capture the notion of good character. They are:



Therefore we now turn to the routes--the strengths of character--by which we achieve the virtues.


Talents and Strengths


Strengths, such as integrity, valor, originality, and kindness, are not the same as talents, such as perfect pitch, facial beauty, or lightning fast sprinting speed.


Here are some of the criteria by which we know that a characteristic is a strength: First, a strength is a trait, a psychological characteristic that can be seen across different situations and over time. A one-time act of kindness does not display the underlying virtue of kindness across multiple settings done multiple times.


Second, a strength is valued in its own right. Strengths often produce good consequences. Remember, that the gratifications are undertaken for their own sake, not because they may produce a squirt of felt positive emotion in addition.


Strengths also can be seen in what parents wish for their newborn (“ I want my child to be loving, to be brave, and to be prudent”).


Another criterion for a strength is that they are valued in almost every culture in the world.


Here is a list of twenty-four strengths listed within the six virtues:


Wisdom and Knowledge


  1. Curiosity/Knowledge in the world
  2. Love of Learning
  3. Judgment/Critical-Thinking/Open-Mindedness
  4. Ingenuity/Originality/Practical Intelligence/Street Smarts
  5. Social Intelligence/Personal Intelligence/Emotional Intelligence
  6. Perspective




  1. Valor and Bravey
  2. Perseverance /Industry /Diligence
  3. Integrity/ Genuineness/Honesty


Humanity and Love


  1. Kindness and Generosity
  2. Loving and Allowing Oneself to be Loved




  1. Citizenship/Duty/Teamwork/Loyalty
  2. Fairness and Equity
  3. Leadership




  1. Self-Control
  2. Prudence/Discretion/Caution
  3. Humility and Modesty




  1. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
  2. Gratitude
  3. Hope/Optimism/Future-Mindedness
  4. Spirituality/Sense of Purpose/Faith/Religiousness
  5. Forgiveness and Mercy
  6. Playfulness and Humor
  7. Zest/Passion/Enthusiasm


When you arrived at the Haag Home, you took a survey of these strengths. If you are interested in what you scored, speak with your treatment manager. Take your list of top strengths, and for each one ask if any of these criteria apply:



Try to use these strengths in the main realms of your life (work, love, parenting, and in having a meaningful life) to bring about abundant gratification and authentic happiness.




  1. What six virtues are found in almost all religious and philosophical traditions?


  1. Which of these six virtues do you think you possess the most? Why?


  1. Rather than “spending too much time fixing our weaknesses,” what does positive psychology encourage people to do instead?


  1. First, a strength is a trait,                                                          situations and over time.


  1. Second,                                                       right


  1. Choose one virtue you think you need to work on the most and explain why you think this. Be specific.


  1. Choose one virtue you think you need to work on the least and explain how you show the characteristics of this virtue in your own behavior.


  1. Humanity and Love, includes:

a) Valor and Bravery

b) Kindness and Generosity

c) Gratitude

d) Perspective


  1. Transcendence, includes:

a)      Appreciating beauty

b)      Spirituality

c)      Forgiveness and Mercy

d)      All of the Above


  1. Which strength do you consider to be your top strength and why? Explain how you use this strength in your life.