Recently, a group of friends and I decided to explore our values and beliefs using an online survey called the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, which is available at the Authentic Happiness website.* The survey results reasonably reflect my character strengths, which will serve me well as I transition into my new career as a secondary mathematics teacher. My top 5 character strengths follow.
Your Top Strength: Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
Your Second Strength: Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.
Your Third Strength: Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.
Your Fourth Strength: Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.
Your Fifth Strength: Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.
While there are nineteen other character strengths ranked in my survey results, many of which are beneficial to have in their own right, these top 5 will serve me well as I transition into my new career. However, I will need to bring to bear all twenty-four, and more, to handle the depth and breadth of challenges presented to high school teachers these days, especially with all the additional skills needed to accommodate our diverse student populations.
Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, and author of, Authentic Happiness, is the founder of Positive Psychology, a new branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. His research has demonstrated that it is possible to be happier — to feel more satisfied, to be more engaged with life, find more meaning, have higher hopes, and probably even laugh and smile more, regardless of one’s circumstances.
* You will need to create an account on the site in order to take their surveys and receive results.