The character strength of perspective is distinct from intelligence and means that the person possesses superior knowledge and judgement. It involves being able to provide wise counsel to others. A person with a high rating for perspective will be able to address important and difficult questions about morality and the meaning of life. They are aware of broad patterns of meaning in their lives, their strengths and weaknesses and the necessity of contributing to society.
How to demonstrate this Character Strength:
Movies: The Devil’s Advocate (1997), American Beauty (1999)
Songs: My Way (Frank Sinatra), Strength, Courage, Wisdom (Lauryn Hill)
Suggested strategies that correlate with this strength:
- Explain the broad outlook of your life in one or two sentences as a weekly exercise
- Find purpose in the last five of your signification actions/ decisions.
- Find someone wise (alive or deceased), read or watch a film on their life and identify how their life can guide your decisions and actions.
- Read wisdom quotes and re-write them in small practical action steps for yourself.
- Offer advice only when asked and after listening empathically to the seeker.
- Become aware of the moral implications and potential consequences of your future actions
- Reflect on the moral implications of scientific endeavours that directly affect your life.
- Pursue endeavours that have a significant impact on the world
- Exercise optimism and patience with tasks that challenge you most
- Examine a world event from historical, cultural and economic perspectives.
- Seek a role at least once every three months which requires you to counsel others.
- Schedule time when you can optimally muse, analyse, reflect and synthesize on an issue you feel ambivalent about.
- Connect your beliefs with your emotions.
- Build a network of friends and confidants with differing perspectives. Seek their counsel when you need expertise.
- Mentor a child in your neighbourhood.
To build perspective, appreciate life in the present, and to tap into life fulfilment, the “Deathbed Test” is a really good strategy that quite literally – puts things in perspective.
This strategy is supported by many researchers, such as Peterson and Seligman (2004), Wong (2015), and Kurtz (2008), which they argue increases the perceived value of one’s current situation.
How to exercise the “Deathbed Test”
- Imagine you are lying on your deathbed
- Finish this sentence: I wish I would have spent more time……….
- What character strength or strengths might you use or employ to help you accomplish what you have written about in step 2?
By monitoring and exercising the above, you can catch when there is an incongruence in this personal strength. An incongruence will compromise you and cause inner conflict, so the above will help you keep on the right track.
Niemiec, R. M, 2017, Character Strengths Interventions, Hogrefe, Boston
Tayyab, R., Anjum, A., 2005, 340 Ways to Use VIA Character Strengths, University of Pennsylvania