What is the VIA Institute? The The VIA® Institute on Character was established as a non-profit organization in 2001. Their mission is to advance both the science and the practice of character. They aim to fill the world with greater virtue by offering the VIA Survey, free of charge, across the globe. The VIA Survey has been taken by over 1.3 million people in 193 countries and 17 languages.

What is the VIA model? There are 6 virtues and 24 total character strengths that fall within each virtue category.

1. Wisdom and Knowledge – Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and
use of knowledge

2. Courage – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal

3. Humanity – Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others

4. Justice – Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life

5. Temperance – Strengths that protect against excess

6. Transcendence – Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

What are the 24 VIA Character Strengths?

Click here for the complete list of 24 VIA Character Strengths

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the first 4 stages of balanceability–the word I coined defining your ability to balance your life.  The father of balance research, Erik Erikson, devised 8 stages of psychosocial balance with each stage representing a crisis with positive and negative turning points.  According to Erikson, we need to discover the balance between the positive and negative turning points to lead a healthy life.

Stage 5 is identity versus identity confusion. This stage is most prominent between the ages of twelve to twenty years old, but you can visit a stage many times throughout your life.

Who am I? Where am I going? Where do I want to go?

Our understanding of self grows like rings inside a tree trunk. As we experience the seasons of life, our sense of self branches out into many directions.

How does our identity develop?

The known part of self is experienced through your physical, social, emotional, and intellectual attributes. This leads to your concept of self, which is your belief and understanding about yourself. Your concept of self can be divided between the ideal self (who you want to be), your perceived self (what you think others think of you) and real self (the true you).

The knowing part of self functions through doing. This is accomplished through perceiving, performing, thinking, and remembering. Thus, your self esteem is created and rooted in positive and negative feelings toward one’s self.

A person with a well developed sense of identity is aware of the roots of their concept of self and their feelings of self esteem. They are aware of the different parts of themselves.

The implicit attitude of identity is, “I’m this kind of person. I’m not perfect, but I’m still OK. I can accept your shortcomings because I can accept my own.”

How does identity confusion happen?

Unfortunately, many people grow up in an emotionally deprived environment. Self concept and self esteem is 50% how you were nurtured. Your genetic personality  predisposition is the other 50%.

The implicit attitude of identity confusion is, “I’m not sure who I am as a person. I should be much better or more than I am. I have trouble accepting your shortcomings just as I have trouble accepting my own.”

Top 10 questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I have a stable sense of self that does not easily change, or do I have an unstable self that has many ups and downs?
  2. Can I combine short-term goals with long range plans or do I have trouble turning short term goals into long range plans?
  3. Do I handle the whims of peer pressure or do I give in to the whims of peer pressure influence?
  4. Can I give myself a high level of self acceptance or do I have low levels of self acceptance?
  5. Do I make decisions without undue wavering and indecision or am I ambivalent, fearing that my decisions will be wrong?
  6. Am I optimistic about myself, others, and life, or am I pessimistic and cynical toward myself, others, and life?
  7. Do I tend to believe that I am in charge for what happens to me–good or bad–or do I blame and give control to others when good or bad happens?
  8. Am I able to seek self acceptance by being my own person or do I seek self acceptance indirectly by being what I think others want me to be?
  9. Can I be physically and emotionally close to another person without fearing a loss of self or do I have trouble getting physically and emotionally close to others because I fear co-dependence or being overly separated?
  10. Am I mentally flexible and able to keep my sense of self without having to be right or am I mentally inflexible and keep my sense of self by having to be right?

Do you want to build a new friendship or strengthen your marriage? Need to repair conflict with a co-worker? Dream of having the self confidence to speak up for what you want?

Researchers at UCLA report that success in life is 20% intellect and 80% emotional intelligence. Boosting your emotional intelligence begins with growing your people skills–the foundation for a happy, successful life.

Be smart from the heart. Here are my top 5 EI tips:

1. Know your emotions

Knowing your emotions is like being a good wine connoisseur. When an oenophile–a wine lover–sips a Cabernet or Zinfandel, you probably won’t hear them describe it simply as “good” or bad.”  Wine may be dry or fruity, smooth or complex, smoky or spicy, tart or buttery–it’s full of subtle aromas, tastes, and textures.  Does your feeling vocabulary express the complexity, subtleties, and wide range of emotions in your life? Become an emotion connoisseur. Get a feeling magnet and hang it on your refrigerator or filing cabinet at work to help you identify your many emotions throughout the day.

2. Manage your emotions

Stuffing leads to hypertension, headaches, muscle tightness, and emotional constipation. Spewing leads to aggression, impulsive behavior, conflicts with people, and hurt feelings. Take the balanced approach to managing your emotions and share your feelings calmly. Sharing, instead of stuffing or spewing, rewards you with self-awareness, physical relief, improved communication in relationships, and, of course, a boost in your emotional intelligence.

3. Motivate yourself

Self-motivated people enjoy happier relationships, higher spirits, and a stronger sense of self responsibility. Want to crank up your self motivation and win every day?

  • Dive into reading and learning about topics that rev your engines
  • Watch movies and listen to music that inspires you
  • Spend quality time with other motivated people
  • Set goals and compete with yourself to achieve them
  • Celebrate your victories

4. Identify and recognize emotions in other people

Reading facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and eye contact are crucial to fully understanding others and strengthening your emotional intelligence. Don’t only listen for what is being said, pay attention to what is unsaid, as well. Train yourself to state the obvious. For example; “You keep looking at the floor when you are talking to me. Help me understand what is going on inside of you right now.” The better you can read and understand other peoples’ “traffic signs,” the more successful you will be in connecting and communicating in meaningful, healthy ways. Traffic signals keep us safely on the road to our destination.  The same is true in relationships.

5. Care for your relationships

As leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” Caring for relationships is like tending a garden.  You must prepare a foundation, plant seeds, nurture the buds as they grow, manage weeds, and harvest the fruit. Ask yourself, how can I tend to the relationships in my life?  Is it time to plant?  Time to nurture?  Time to harvest? You may not have a green thumb but when you care for the relationships in your life, building emotional intelligence along the way, you are certain to see love and friendship blossom.