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Table 2.1. VIA Classification of Character Strengths

1. Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive Strengths That Entail the Acquisition and Use of Knowledge

  • Creativity: thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it
  • Curiosity and Interest in the World: taking an interest in all of ongoing experience; finding all subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering
  • Judgment and Critical Thinking: thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly
  • Love of Learning: mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows
  • Perspective: being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to self and to other people

    2. Courage: Emotional Strengths That Involve the Exercise of Will to Accomplish Goals in the Face of Opposition, External or Internal

    • Bravery: not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it
    • Persistence: finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks
    • Authenticity/Honesty: speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions
    • Vitality: approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated

      3.Love:InterpersonalStrengthsThatInvolve“Tending”and“Befriending”Others(Taylor et al., 2000)

Intimacy: valuing close relations with others, in particular those with whom sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people
Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them Social Intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick

4. Justice:CivicStrengthsThatUnderlieHealthyCommunityLife

  • Citizenship: working well as member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share
  • Fairness: treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance
  • Leadership: encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at

    the same time facilitating good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen

  1. Temperance: Strengths That Protect Against Excess
    • Forgiveness/Mercy: forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful
    • Humility/Modesty: letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding oneself as more special than one is
    • Prudence: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
    • Self-Regulation: regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions
  2. Transcendence: Strengths That Forge Connections to the Larger Universe and Provide Meaning
    • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience
    • Gratitude: being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks
    • Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about
    • Humor: liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes
    • Spirituality: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort

 

Descriptions, foundations and illustrations of thinking errors and their realistic and balanced alternatives (W Dryden)

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In these illustrations, the beliefs (irrational and rational) are shown in square brackets and the thinking errors and realistic and balanced alternatives are underlined.

Descriptions of thinking errors and realistic and balanced alternatives

Illustrations

Jumping to unwarranted conclusions

Here, when something bad happens, you make a negative interpretation and treat this as a fact even though there is no de®nite evidence that convincingly support your conclusions

Sticking to the facts and testing out your hunches

Here, when something bad happens, you stick to the facts and resolve to test out any negative interpretations you may make which you view as hunches to be examined rather than as facts

`Since they have seen me fail . . . [as I absolutely should not have done] . . . they will view me as an incompetent worm’

`Since they have seen me fail . . . [as I would have preferred not to do, but do demand that I absolutely should not have done] . . . I am not sure how they will view me. I think that some will think badly of me, others will be compassionate towards me and yet others may not have noticed or be neutral about my failure. I can always ask them, if I want to know’

All-or-none thinking

Here, you use non-overlapping black or white categories

Multi-category thinking

Here, you make use of a number of relevant categories

`If I fail at any important task . . . [as I must not do] . . . I will only ever fail again’

`If I do fail at any important task . . . [as I would prefer not to do, but do not demand that I must not do] . . . I may well both succeed and fail at important tasks in the future’

 

Overgeneralising

Here, when something bad happens, you make a generalisation from this experience that goes far beyond the data at hand

Making a realistic generalisation

Here, when something goes wrong, you make a generalisation from this experience that is warranted by the data at hand

`[My boss must like me] . . . If my boss does not like me, it follows that nobody at work will like me’

`[I want my boss to like me, but my boss does not have to do so] . . . If my boss does not like me, it follows that others at work may or may not like me’

Focusing on the negative

Here, you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours the entire glass of water

Focusing on the complexity of experiences

Here, you focus on a negative detail, but integrate this detail into the complexity of positive, negative and neutral features of life

`As things are going wrong . . . [as they must not do and it is intolerable that they are] . . . I can’t see any good that is happening in my life’

`As things are going wrong . . . [as I prefer, but do not demand that they must not and when they do, I can bear it] . . . I can see that my life is made up of the good, the bad and the neutral’

Disqualifying the positive

Here, you reject positive experiences by insisting they `don’t count’ for some reason or other, thus maintaining a negative view that cannot be contradicted by your everyday experiences

Incorporating the positive into a complex view of your experiences

Here, you accept positive experiences and locate these into the complexity of positive, negative and neutral features of life

`[I absolutely should not have done the foolish things that I have done] . . . When others compliment me on the good things I have done, they are only being kind to me by seeming to forget those foolish things’

`[I would have preferred not to have done the foolish things that I have done, but that does not mean that I absolutely should not have done them] . . . When others compliment me on the good things I have done, I can accept these compliments as being genuine even though I also did some foolish things which the others may also have recognised ‘

Mind reading

Here, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out. You regard your thought as a fact

Owning and checking one’s thoughts about the reactions of others

Here, you may think someone is reacting negatively to you, but you check it out with the other person rather than regarding your thought as fact

`I made some errors in my presentation . . . [that I absolutely should not have made] . . . and when I looked at my boss, I thought he was thinking how hopeless I was and therefore he did think this’

`I made some errors in my presentation . . . [that I would have preferred not to have made, but that does not mean that I absolutely should not have made them] . . . and when I looked at my boss I thought he was thinking that I was hopeless, but I quickly realised that this

was my thought rather than his and resolved to ask him about this in the morning’

Fortune telling

Here, you anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact

Owning and checking one’s thoughts about what will happen in the future

Here, you anticipate that things may turn out badly, but you regard that as a prediction that needs examining against the available data and is not an established fact

`Because I failed at this simple task . . . [which I absolutely should not have done] . . . I think that I will get a very bad appraisal and thus this will happen’

Because I failed at this simple task . . . [which I would have preferred not to have done, but I do not have to be immune from so doing] . . . I may get a very bad appraisal, but this is unlikely since I have done far more good than bad at work during the last year’

Always and never thinking

Here, when something bad happens, you conclude that it will always happen and/or the good alternative will never occur

Balanced thinking about the past, present and future

Here, when something bad happens you recognise that while it may happen again that it is not inevitable that it will and it is very unlikely that it will always occur. Also, you recognise that the good alternative may well occur in the future and that it is very unlikely that it will never happen

`Because my present conditions of living are not good . . . [and they are actually intolerable because they must be better than they are] . . . it follows that they’ll always be this way and I’ll never have any happiness’

`Because my present conditions of living are not good . . . [but they are tolerable because they don’t have to be better than they are] . . . it does not follow that they will always be that way and I can be happy again’

Magnifying

Here, when something bad happens, you exaggerate its negativity

Keeping things in realistic perspective

Here, when something bad happens, you view it in its proper perspective

`I made a faux pas when introducing my new colleague . . . [which I absolutely should not have done and it’s awful that I did so] . . . and this will have a very negative effect on my career’

`I made a faux pas when introducing my new colleague . . . [which I wish I had not done, but I do not have to be exempt from making. It’s bad that I did so, but hardly the end of the world] . . . and while people may remember it for a

day or two, I doubt that it will have much lasting impact on my career’

Minimising

Here, you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or other people’s imperfections)

Using the same balanced perspective for self and others

Here, when you do something good and/or others do something bad, you can recognise this kind of behaviour for what it is

`[I must do outstandingly well and I am completely useless when I do not do so] . . . When I have seemingly done reasonably well, this is the result of luck and anyone could have done this. Whereas if another person had done the same thing, I would acknowledge their achievement’

`[I want to do outstandingly well, but I do not have to do so. I am not useless when I do not do so] . . . When I or someone else has seemingly done reasonably well, this may be the result of luck, but it may be because I or they

fully deserved to do well’

Emotional reasoning

Here, you assume that your negative emotions necessarily re ̄ect the way things really are: `I feel it, therefore it must be true’

Sound reasoning based on thinking and feeling

`Because I have performed so poorly . . . [as I absolutely should not have done] . . . I feel like everybody will remember my poor performance and my strong feeling proves that they will’

Because I have performed so poorly . . . [as I wish, but do not demand that I absolutely should not have done] . . . I think and feel that people will have different responses to my performance:

some negative and nasty, some compassionate and empathic and some

neutral and this is probably the case’

Personalising

Here, when a negative event occurs involving you which you may or may not be primarily responsible for, you see yourself de®nitely as the cause of it

Making a realistic attribution

Here, when a negative event occurs involving you which you may or may not be primarily responsible for, you acknowledge that you may be the cause of it, but you don’t assume that you de®nitely are. Rather, you view the event from a the whole perspective before making an attribution of cause which is likely to be realistic

`I am involved in a group presentation and things are not going well . . . [Since I am acting worse than I absolutely should act] . . . and the audience is laughing, I am sure they are laughing only at me’

`I am involved in a group presentation and things are not going well . . . [Since I am acting worse than I would like to do, but do not demand that I must do] . . . and the audience is laughing, I am not sure who or what they are laughing

at and indeed, some might be laughing

with us and not at us’

W Dryden – REBT emotional problems

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The eight emotional problems are underpinned by irrational beliefs

RECBT theory argues that each of the eight emotional problems stems from two irrational beliefs: a rigid belief and three extreme beliefs that are derived from the rigid belief. Thus, an irrational belief is characterised by being rigid or being extreme. It has three other characteristics:

it is false
it is illogical

it has largely unconstructive consequences (e.g. in the face of an adversity it leads to an emotional problem).

Let me consider rigid and extreme beliefs separately.

Rigid beliefs

Perhaps the most basic characteristic of human beings is that we have desires. We want certain things to happen and other things not to happen, but when we turn these desires into rigidities when we don’t get what we want, or get what we don’t want, then we experience one or more of the emotional problems described in this book. Here are a few examples of rigid beliefs:

I must do well on the forthcoming test.
You must respect my boundaries.
The world must not give me too much hassle.

As these examples show you can hold rigid beliefs about yourself, others and life conditions.

Three extreme beliefs

According to RECBT theory, rigid beliefs are paramount in explaining the existence of the emotional problems and three extreme beliefs tend to be derived from these rigid beliefs. These are

awfulising beliefs
discomfort intolerance beliefs depreciation beliefs.

Emotional problems 5

6 Dealing with emotional problems: a client’s guide

Awfulising beliefs

An awfulising belief stems from the rigid belief that things must not be as bad as they are. An awfulising belief is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

Nothing could be worse.
The event in question is worse than 100 per cent bad. No good could possibly come from this bad event.

In the following examples of awfulising beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and it would be awful if I don’t.
(You must respect my boundaries) . . . and it’s the end of the world when you don’t. (The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and it’s terrible when it does.

Discomfort intolerance beliefs

A discomfort intolerance belief stems from a rigid belief that things must not be as frustrating or uncomfortable as they are. A discomfort intoler- ance belief is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

I will die or disintegrate if the frustration or discomfort continues to exist.

I will lose the capacity to experience happiness if the frustration or discomfort continues to exist.

In the following examples of discomfort intolerance beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and I could not bear it if I don’t. (You must respect my boundaries) . . . and it’s intolerable if you don’t.
(The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and I can’t stand it if it does.

Depreciation beliefs

A depreciation belief stems from the rigid belief that you, others or things must be as you want them to be and is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

A person (self or other) can legitimately be given a single global rating that de®nes their essence and the worth of a person is dependent upon conditions that change (e.g. my worth goes up when I do well and goes down when I don’t do well).

The world can legitimately be given a single rating that de®nes its essential nature and that the value of the world varies according to what happens within it (e.g. the value of the world goes up when something fair occurs and goes down when something unfair happens).

A person can be rated on the basis of one of his or her aspects and the world can be rated on the basis of one of its aspects.

In the following examples of depreciation beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and I am a failure if I don’t. (You must respect my boundaries) . . . and you are bad if you don’t.

(The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and if it does, the world is a rotten place.

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