The 24 Character Strengths
While often simplified as “grit” or “self-control,” character is more than simply individual achievement or a person’s behavior. It is a broad and complex family of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are recognized and encouraged across cultures for the values they cultivate in people and society. Character is the aggregate of who we are; it’s “what’s inside every one of us.”
Dr. Chris Peterson took a three-year sabbatical to better understand character and its manifestations. Alongside Dr. Martin Seligman, Dr. Peterson then wrote an 800-page book on the research called Character Strengths and Virtues. This book explains:
- 24 character strengths that are evident in the most widely influential traditions of thought in human history;
- Robust evidence of all 24 strengths existing throughout time and in all cultures of the world;
- All 24 character strengths exist in every individual.
Ranging from bravery and forgiveness to integrity and gratitude, these character strengths are the foundation of The Positivity Project’s model.
Making children aware that every one of them — and every other person — has all 24 character strengths, provides the foundation for genuine self-confidence. More importantly, it helps children better understand why everyone is different and how to appreciate those differences. Unlike our height, weight, or skin color, character is something that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Therefore, understanding and valuing it — especially in other people — requires a framework of consistent reflection and discussion.