Which Character Strength Can You Use to Improve Your Health?

Inspiration into Action | Happy Living“The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
(Helen Keller)

A couple of weeks ago, Happy Living hosted a Character Day[1] event in which we explored the importance of developing various character strengths in order to be successful and happy. The whole exercise got me thinking that, no matter which set of character strengths a person has, he or she can use those strengths to help them achieve their health goals. So, let’s look a little more closely at these traits and see how you can apply this information, even if you didn’t participate in the event.

The Science of Character film[2] which was shown during the event indicated that, of the 24 character strengths, seven are “game changers.” Of these “top” seven traits, I can clearly see how six can be used to help us improve our health and well-being by impacting on our food choices, our physical fitness, and/or our perception of the whole process. If you recognize one (or more!) of these as a character strength of yours, this is how you can utilize it to your advantage to improve your health:

  • Curiosity: Your strong desire to know more can help you figure out which foods may be having a negative impact on your body, mind and emotions. Your interest in learning new things can lead to, for example, trying that unusual vegetable at the farmer’s market or putting basil in your smoothie for the boost in cancer and inflammation-fighting nutrients it provides.
  • Perseverance: Your persistence when it comes to doing things that are difficult (or may not yield immediate satisfaction) can help you stick with a dietary change until your body finds a new way of functioning and you see the results. Your tenacity can ensure that you don’t give up on healthier choices too soon and that you allow time to see the benefit they bring you.
  • Optimism: Your expectation of a successful outcome means you are more likely to see a positive result from a dietary change because you will be looking for it. Your tendency to look for the favorable result will also mean that you’ll be thrilled when you drop three pounds, even if your original goal was to drop , and you’ll stick with your changes, believing you will lose the additional seven pounds too.
  • Gratitude: Your attitude of thankfulness can be directed toward the deliciousness of the healthy food you are eating, the amazing ability of your body to heal itself, and even you for loving yourself enough to make a change for the better. (By the way, did you know that people who express gratitude are more likely to make healthy food choices and exercise more?[3])
  • Self-control: Your ability to control your actions is so beneficial to healthy food choices because we are surrounded by tasty but deleterious all the time. Your impulse control can ensure you stay on track with your health goals even when, for example, you’re surrounded by temptation at a birthday party, are eating out or feeling grumpy and looking for a sugar-fix.
  • Enthusiasm: Your excitement about life in general can ensure you continue to enjoy yourself while exercising before work or eating a salad loaded with delicious and colorful veggies, even when your coworkers are chowing down on pizza. Your eager interest in your health can keep you engaged as you pursue lifelong health and wellbeing.

(The seventh “game changer” is social intelligence. I haven’t yet figured out how this applies to nutrition, but if you have an idea, please tell me in the comments below!)

Now that you know you have multiple character strengths that you can employ to help you on your health journey, take a moment to celebrate the things you do right each day (whether they’re health-related or not) and the strengths that have helped you be successful in so many areas of your life. After all, you are amazing and you deserve to be celebrated!

Oh! And before you go, tell me: Which of your character strengths do you intend to use to help you focus on becoming as vibrant, strong, energetic and happy as you want and deserve to be? I’d love to know!


[1] Let it Ripple Film Studio. Character Day.

[2] The Moxie Institute. The Science of Character.

[3] Louise Kamps. 6 Surprising Reasons Why Gratitude is Great for Your Health.

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