What is character really? Why a whole day to celebrate?
Every day, from the moment we rise to the moment our head hits the pillow at night, we draw on our strengths. Whether it’s self-regulation when we resist hitting snooze when our alarm jars us awake; or it’s teamwork when we tackle a new project with colleagues; or kindness when we check on a friend; our strengths are constantly at work. Like the air we breathe, we draw on our strengths without a thought or moment’s hesitation.
We continue to study, dialogue and debate the role and importance of strengths in our lives. Yet, if character strengths are so inherent to who we are at our core, do we really need to highlight them?
Over the last 15 months, our journey alongside our partners, the VIA Institute on Character, Happify, and Cincinnati Public Schools has led us to our response – a resounding YES!
While inherent to who we are, we know that two-thirds of the adult population in the US cannot name their strengths. What we can’t name we can’t celebrate. And why should we care? When we can name our strengths, use them more fully and celebrate who we are, we become the best person we can be – fully alive, fully aware and living life with positive expectation.
Research and everyday experience with over 150 educators and their students from across the Midwest has taught us that:
- We seldom have the opportunity to talk about our unique combination of strengths and how they make us who we are – and when we do – energy and enthusiasm soar.
- We lack a common language to celebrate and encourage the use of character strengths amongst our colleagues, with our students and within our schools. When this language is in place, schools thrive!
- Character strengths, as defined by VIA Institute on Character, are simple to grasp and yet very deep. Steeped in worldwide research, they are so foundational to who we are that students and staff alike quickly grasp their meaning and value.
- While character strengths are innate, so by definition don’t need to be “taught,” they do need to be nurtured, developed and brought forward. And when we do, learning, collaboration and performance soar!
We hope you will consider joining us in celebrating Character Day 2015! Watch Let it Ripple’s “Science of Character” video. Explore your own strengths at VIA Institute of Character. And of course, if you are interested in our work in schools, check out Thriving Learning Communities.