Character Strengths Research

My top five character strengths are appreciation of beauty and excellence, leadership,

fairness and equity and justice, gratitude, and kindness and generosity. These character strengths

make me who I am today, and hold great potential in helping me through my journey to mindful

living. By assessing the positive effects these traits have on my well-being, I am better able to

determine what measures I need to take to make my life more meaningful and improve my

wellbeing.

People with an appreciation of beauty and excellence often “feel fulfilled, expand their

awareness beyond their own concerns, feel connected to the environment (physical and social),

acquire a new knowledge of the world, see it with better eyes, and feel motivated to change for

the better, and to behave in a way that preserves the harmony of the world” (Martinez-Marti,

2015). The beauty of nature, life, and everything in between has always been something I was

quick to notice. I have always wanted to explore new places and learn the local customs and

ways of life. I think this has helped me gain a broader world view and has also helped me to

better understand others. The fact that people with this character strength are often more

motivated towards positive change and have more awareness of their surroundings gives me

hope that I can always work to become a better person. I hope this character strength allows me

to maintain positive relationships and create healthy dialogue instead of constantly fighting with

those I disagree with. The ability to see many sides and hoping to change the world for the better

has definitely influenced the people I keep around me today. I think this will increase my

wellbeing as it will be much easier for me to create a network of supporters, and to think more

rationally about my circumstances when things become difficult. It will also help me channel my

ability to lead in times of crisis or disagreement.

Martínez-Martí, M. L., Hernández-Lloreda, M. J., & Avia, M. D. (2015). Appreciation of

Beauty and Excellence: Relationship with Personality, Prosociality and Well-Being. Journal of

Happiness Studies, 17(6), 2613-2634. doi:10.1007/s10902-015-9709-6

A good leader positively impacts anyone working under them and can have positive

effects on the productivity of a group (Keller, 2006). When I am working in a group, I often

think of how to delegate the work so that we are all able to work together, efficiently, and in a

way that creates the best results. However, I am also usually concerned about the thoughts of my

group members and how they think we should handle the project, as there is always more than

one way to do something. I agree with the study because, in the past, I have done my best to

show respect to my fellow team members, and they have always responded by working harder

and more willingly. I think that my leadership skills will help me to maintain a sense of order

that will reduce stress by ensuring that the group stays on top of things and creates good work. I

also hope that my leadership skills help propel me through my career as an architect, as my goal

in life is to create affordable housing projects as well as transitional housing to help bring the

homeless off the streets.

Keller, R. T. (2006). Transformational leadership, initiating structure, and substitutes for

leadership: A longitudinal study of research and development project team performance.

Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1), 202-210. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.91.1.202

It is hardly fair that there are so many empty homes in the world when there are so many

homeless people on the streets. We turn a blind eye to homeless people and beggars, but we still

recognize the unfairness of their situations because human beings are actually sensitive to

fairness. And the need for justice is simply a basic human impulse, “possibly rooted in a basic

social motivation to be accepted” (Tabibnia, 2008), so when we react in outrage at the

mistreatment of others, are we doing it more for others or our own self gain? I hope that by

utilizing my skills as an architect, I can work hard to make sure that people are treated fairly and

that the homeless people are respected and helped up out of their situations. Not for recognition

or because I want others to view me in a positive light for what I am doing, but because I believe

that no one should be left with nothing in a time of need. This study has made me realize that

simply wanting justice and equality are not enough. I have to act if I want to see those changes in

the world. I also hope that my need to see fairness and justice in the world never leaves me,

because it has shaped me into a person who cares for others. I feel a more generous person when

I feel the need to see justice, equity, and fairness in the world.

Tabibnia, G., Satpute, A. B., & Lieberman, M. D. (2008). The Sunny Side of Fairness:

Preference for Fairness Activates Reward Circuitry (and Disregarding Unfairness Activates

SelfControl Circuitry). Psychological Science, 19(4), 339-347. doi:10.1111/j. 1467-

9280.2008.02091.x

Studies have shown that oxytocin increases generosity in people (Zak, 2007). When

people feel a connection or a sense of trust between themselves and another, they are more

inclined to be generous to them. Oxytocin is the same hormone that allows mothers to bond with

their newborn children, and it creates that sense of trust between oneself and another. I always

tell myself that I wish I could be more generous, because helping others often makes me feel

much better about myself. This study has helped me realize that in order to be a more generous

person, I have to be able to trust more, and to be more susceptible to the chemistry going on

inside my body. I think if I can learn to let go of some of my fears and put more trust in others, I

can gain the confidence to do even more generous things. By learning to be more generous to

others, I think I will feel a greater sense of purpose in life. Even if my purpose is simply being

someone who gives, I will be happy, because giving has always made me feel a sense of

gratitude for what I already have.

Zak, P. J., Stanton, A. A., & Ahmadi, S. (2007). Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans.

PLoS ONE, 2(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001128

Gratitude increases well-being by influencing a sense of abundance and appreciation

(Toussaint, 2008). Meaning that someone who can find a reason to feel that they have plenty and

can learn to appreciate even the smallest things can become so much happier in life. I am very

grateful for everything that I have. I understand the sacrifices my family has made to get me

where I am today, and I love them so much for all they do. However, I can sometimes be a bit

ungrateful. I hope that learning to put gratitude first in any situation will help me fight any

negative thoughts or stress. I also hope gratitude can give me the strength to tackle problems

without the added bitterness being ungrateful often entails. I hope to find one thing a day to be

grateful for, so that I can better improve my mood and have a good attitude to help me be

productive throughout the day.

Toussaint, L., & Friedman, P. (2008). Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Well-Being: The Mediating

Role of Affect and Beliefs. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(6), 635-654. doi:10.1007/ s10902-

008-9111-8

People with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop adverse health effects (Yu,

2015). By using my strengths to find said purpose, I can work to improve my well-being and

decrease my chances of developing major health problems later in life. By applying the mindful

living techniques and tools that I have learned recently, I may be able to go a step further in

preventing health issues. I already feel that my life’s purpose is to help the homeless and those

less fortunate by providing livable housing options. Now I just have to maintain a less-stressful

lifestyle and work hard to become a certified architect so that I can begin working on my dream.

However, I know that I will likely have more than one purpose in life, and once I find another, I

hope that I can better myself, physically and mentally.

Yu, L., Boyle, P. A., Wilson, R. S., Levine, S. R., Schneider, J. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2015).

Purpose in Life and Cerebral Infarcts in Community-Dwelling Older People. Stroke, 46(4),

1071-1076. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.114.008010

There is a positivity bias in language, despite all the negativity that may seem to be going

around (Dodds, 2015). This article has given me hope to become more positive, because I often

feel so negative. If I can remind myself of positive thoughts when I feel I am being negative,

then maybe I can improve my attitude. I think it is important to find positivity in everything.

When things become stressful, it is so easy to become bogged down with sadness and anxiety. I

want to start leaving myself positive messages so that I can tell my future self to slow down and

remember to smell the roses every once in a while. Life is such a precious gift, and the fact that

language is more often than not used in a positive way, gives me hope that the world can become

a more positive place.

Dodds, P. S., Clark, E. M., Desu, S., Frank, M. R., Reagan, A. J., Williams, J. R., . . . Danforth,

C. M. (2015). Human language reveals a universal positivity bias. Proceedings of the National

Academy of Sciences, 112(8), 2389-2394. doi:10.1073/pnas.1411678112

All of my character strengths and the information I found about mindfulness and wellness

have really shaped the way I view myself and the world. I hope to remember that my generosity

and desire for justice are not weaknesses, but something that makes me caring and

compassionate in the face of something cruel or heartless. I cannot let the stresses of life turn me

into a negative, bitter, or ungrateful person because I know that I have so much potential to do

well. I want the exercises I have learned to become so ingrained into my being that I have no

chance of developing health issues or letting stress dominate my life. The world is a beautiful

place, and I hope to be a positive being in the face of whatever life throws my way.