During these months I have been thinking that it is important to look at what resources people have to cope with this challenging time. A powerful factor that everyone possesses is character strengths, the symbol of individual differences and specific psychological traits. Character strengths are individual positive traits that display in thoughts, behaviors and feelings. They are the most fundamental resources to leverage when you want to thrive despite the adversities. They contribute to achieving personal fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness. Becoming aware of your personal traits will help you to feel more in control of your life, to manage better possible stressors, and envision new opportunities.
Peterson and Seligman (2004) classified the 24 character strengths based on specific characteristics, such as universality, morally-value, and being stable positive traits. Some of them are bravery, social intelligence, self-regulation, hope and gratitude to mention some. Previous research has demonstrated that people experience higher well–being on the days they use their strengths. Social functioning, performance, management of job demands, and the ability to deal with environmental challenges are facilitated using one’s strengths. For example, when people utilize their strengths during work-related activities, they can be authentic, more likely to reach their goals and be successful. When individuals use their strengths, they will thus be most strongly aligned with their tasks and have positive experiences at work, such as job satisfaction, pleasure, and engagement.
I want to explore one specific character strengths, namely hope. Hope is related to positive expectations about the future. It activates positive thinking and focusing on good things to come. On the other hand, being hopeless means having your energies drained and be unable to see new opportunities. I chose to talk about hope because I think that in this historical period it is the most important thing to cultivate. It will be much easier to look at the external circumstances, listen to the news and feel discouraged since many people have been losing their job, millions of lives lost and political leaders who seem not able to lead this global transformation.
Conversely, individuals with this strength would be hopeful about the future despite challenges. They have a clear picture in mind about what they want to happen in the future and are confident that their way of doing things will work out for the best. Having hope will help you to be more motivated and confident that you can reach your goals and, also to establish effective strategies to get to that desired future.
What makes you have hope?
This is a key question to understand what motivates you and inspires you to keep a positive mindset. Generally, people hold spiritual, political, cultural beliefs that help them to cope with adversity and maintain a positive attitude. Personally, what most helped me to deal with the uncertainty and fears of this period is to trust science. Innovative research and breakthrough results will bring great benefits to every field. I am strongly convinced that brilliant minds together can achieve incredible results to improve people’s well-being and find effective solutions for this pandemic challenge.
When a person boosts one’s personal strengths and has the belief in being able to overcome challenges in life, psychological well-being will enhance and experiment better adjustment to life’s challenges. There is always a way to overcome the obstacles and challenges, the most important thing is to leverage your character strengths and use them to reach your goals.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: a handbook classification. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press.