As part of our special series on Character Strengths, we are posting articles that highlight the 24 strengths (your best innermost qualities) outlined by the VIA Institute on Character, and discussing how to better apply them in your everyday life. To take the free survey and find your own top strengths, click here.
The strength of spirituality involves our capacity to dig deep and find the greater meaning in life, to align ourselves with a purpose that extends beyond ourselves and to find unity with something greater such as nature, God or the transcendent.
When looked at broadly and with an open mind, this strength applies to all of us—the fervently religious, the atheist seeking meaning, the agnostic questioning life’s grand scheme and the ever-increasing group of the unaffiliated who view themselves as spiritual but not religious.
Research shows that spirituality is one of the character strengths most associated with a meaningful life. It is linked to greater compassion, altruism, volunteerism and philanthropy, all of which help make the world a better place.
Want to tap into your strength of spirituality? Here is a research-based list of activities to get you moving in that direction:
1. Build purpose:
Become proactive in your community by taking on one new volunteer position.
2. Learn from spiritual models:
Name a spiritual role model—someone in your life (or the public eye) who is an exemplar of goodness. Reflect on that person’s best quality and how you might take steps toward embodying that quality.
3. Make an object spiritual:
Spend a few minutes each day with a special or cherished object (e.g., a photograph, a statue, a symbolic piece of jewelry). View it quietly in a purposeful way—seeing it as holy and precious.
4. Pursue a virtue:
Choose a virtuous quality you want to build up in your life (see VIA's 24 Character Strengths to help you select one). Practice using the virtue in a new way each day.
5. Take the deathbed test:
Find meaning by exploring this provocative test. Imagine you are lying on your deathbed and are to finish this sentence: “I wish I had spent more time ____.” What would you say? How might you use your character strengths to help you live up to your values?
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RYAN M. NIEMIEC, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist, certified coach, author and Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His latest book, Character Strengths Interventions: A Field-Guide for Practitioners, was released early this year. For more, visit viacharacter.org.