So what exactly are Character Strengths?

If you guessed strengths of character…you’re basically right!

According to the VIA Institute on Character, character strengths are a “common language” of positive personality traits that:

  • Reflect our personal identity
  • Are personally fulfilling
  • Do not diminish others
  • Universal and valued across cultures
  • Produce positive outcomes for oneself and others (e.g., well-being, positive relationships, achievement)

Put simply, character strengths describe what is best in all of us.

Years of research in the field of positive psychology identified 6 virtues found universally across religions, cultures, and nations including wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, transcendence. After applying various criteria to the 6 virtues, 24 character strengths emerged, each contributing to one virtue.

  • For example, curiosity (wisdom), bravery (courage), kindness (humanity), leadership (justice), self-regulation (temperance), and hope (transcendence) each contribute to one virtue.

At Realizing Aptitudes, we look at character strengths as part of our process via the VIA survey and VIA interpretive report to build awareness of each strength, with a focus on the top 3-7 strengths, or “signature strengths” that are the most essential, energizing, and easy-to-use for each individual. We discuss ways to apply character strengths in different career paths (e.g., using kindness, teamwork, and hope as a Nurse), in addition to ways to utilize and “flex” one’s strengths to successfully meet desired goals and manage life’s upcoming transitions. Studies are showing that applying these strengths in new ways is associated with happiness, student engagement, and less depression.

My signature strengths are:

  • Zest (enthusiasm/energy)
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Appreciation of Beauty/Excellence
  • Curiosity
  • Love of Learning
  • Social Intelligence

As a career coach, I utilize many of my strengths every day including zest, hope, curiosity, love of learning, and social intelligence – I love what I do!! I’m extremely grateful to help others learn about their strengths and explore fitting careers where they can bring their best and love what they do too!

What are your signature strengths?

PS: Anyone can take the free, psychometrically validated VIA Survey here:


Ashley Flynn, M.A.
Career Coach & Outreach Coordinator

Known for her optimism and zest, Ashley empowers young adults to discover and shine a light on the best parts of who they are, identify ways they can positively contribute to the world, and plan for thoughtful next steps along their journey. Ashley earned a Master's in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelors from Florida State University. When she's not at work, you can find her enjoying live music, hiking, running, or skiing in the beautiful state of Colorado.