The VIA Survey of Character Strengths (created by Martin Seligman) will help you identify your values. Martin Seligman, in his book Authentic Happiness, states that he has found in his research that if a person uses their Character Strengths in their work they will find it more meaningful and will, therefore, be happier.
“As coaches, the authors have found the Strengths Survey to be quietly radical. Many clients have never had their strengths assessed and find that just reading the survey results helps them label or understand themselves in new ways.”
–Carol Kaufmman, Ph.D. Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry
To take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths:
- Click here to take the VIA Survey.
- Select the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
- You will need to register and create a User ID to take the inventory. NOTE: There is no cost to take the Inventory.
- The VIA Survey of Character Strengths will be the fifth item on the list. Contact your Career Coach if you have any problems getting in.
- Once you fill out the survey, it will return your top 5 Strengths (known as your Signature Strengths).
- Click on the Show All 24 Strengths button at the bottom of the page, to show how you rated all of the strengths in order of preference.
- Copy the page by highlighting it and clicking on Copy, then paste your results into a Word document, save the file, and e-mail it to your Coach.
- It should take about 30-40 minutes to complete the survey.
NOTE: If you need to get out of the inventory and get back into it, your answers to that point
will be saved and you can return to the survey by clicking here.
In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman identifies 24 character strengths that fall into six categories. He calls these strengths Values in Action (VIA). Here is a list of the VIA Character Strengths:
Wisdom and Knowledge:
• Curiosity & Interest in the World
• Love of learning
• Judgment, Critical Thinking & Open-mindedness
• Creativity, Ingenuity & Originality
• Social intelligence
• Perspective Wisdom
• Bravery & Valor
• Perseverance (Industry, Diligence & Perseverance)
• Honesty, Authenticity & Genuineness (Integrity)
Humanity and Love:
• Kindness & Generosity
• Capacity to Love & Be Loved
• Citizenship, Teamwork & Loyalty
• Self-control & Self-regulation
• Caution, Prudence & Discretion
• Modesty & Humility
• Appreciation of beauty
• Hope, Optimism & Future-Mindedness
• Spirituality, Sense of Purpose & Faith
• Forgiveness & Mercy
• Humor & Playfulness
• Zest, Enthusiasm & Energy
NOTE: Those Character Strengths highlighted in purple or the strengths most closely associated with happiness.
Key to Happiness: Using Your VIA Character Strengths in Your Work & Activities
Your top 5 strengths on your VIA Survey of Character Strengths are your Character Strengths. It is important to validate the results of the survey. Ask yourself:
- Do the top 5 strengths listed in your results seem like they are your authentically you?
- When you utilize these strengths do you experience a sense of flow (time passing without awareness that it has passed, being completely engrossed in an activity)?
- If the strengths listed in your top 5 does not seem like it induces a sense of flow or does not seem to represent you, take a look at number 6 and 7 to see if one of them aligns more closely with you.
Career Exploration & Job Search (Using the VIA Character Strengths)
Once you have validated your Character Strengths (top 5 strengths), they will become part of your Career Criteria that will support you in selecting your career or job.
You and your Coach can also use your Character Strengths to brainstorm Career Possibilities. Look at each of your Character Strengths and brainstorm a list of careers you believe would utilize that strength. Then determine if you want to add it to your Career Possibilities List.
Below is a link to a list of Career, Jobs & Activities that use each of the character strengths. Look for each of your Character Strengths in the list and see if there are any jobs or careers you would like to add to your Career Possibilities List or if they help you think of other possibilities. You can also note hobbies to explore that will utilize your Signature Strengths
Career Exploration & Management VIA Character Strengths Questions
- In your current position, how could you use your top 5 Character Strengths more?
- If you are exploring careers, which jobs and/or business seem to utilize more of your Character Strengths?
Increasing Your Happiness
The results of the VIA Survey of Character Strengths can help you increase your happiness by helping you find new ways to use your Signature Strengths (your top five strengths) in your current work or hobbies. Using your Signature Strengths in your work and personal life will increase your sense of meaning and purpose.
Increasing happiness is not just an end in itself; it also correlates with, and may even help create greater:
• Access to personal as well as social resources
• Physical health
• Deeper connection to society
• A sense of personal mission
In addition to helping you increase your happiness through increased use of your Signature Strengths, the VIA Survey of Character Strengths can help you increase your happiness because it can help you increase your use of certain strengths that are more closely associated with happiness.
Of the 24 VIA Character Strengths, the five that are most strongly correlated to happiness are:
- Curiosity & Interest in the World
- Zest, Enthusiasm & Energy
- Hope, Optimism & Future-Mindedness
- Capacity to Love and be Loved
You can increase your happiness by increasing your use of and alignment with these 5 strengths. (This is an inventory that changes over time, it is not static.)
You can increase use of your top 5 Character Strengths by being aware and setting the intention to use them more and by doing actiivities and exercises that increase them. Martin Seligman has created many exercises that he has proven increase gratitude and optimism. Here two links to exercises to increase happiness and your use of your Signature Strengths:
For other articles on the VIA Character Strengths click here.
VIA Character Strengths Inventory Questions to Increase Sense of Purpose & Happiness
- How do you currently use your Character Strengths?
- What can you do to expand your use of your Character Strengths more in your work, avocations, and/or volunteer work?
- How can you utilize your Character Strengths more in your hobbies and home life?
- What could you do to increase your use them even more?