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4 Ways to Improve Yourself by Watching "The Voice"

July 13, 2013 by ·

SingingThe Voice is arguably the hottest program on television today. Why is the show so successful? How can you benefit from watching it?

Part of the answer to both questions can be found in findings drawn from the science of positive psychology. This scientific domain examines the research behind what makes us happy, strong, healthy, and successful. The Voice does an exemplary job at bringing some of the research findings to life. Here are four examples:

1.) Strengths-Spotting

Viewers of The Voice can readily see the contestants’ strengths in action. Singers will display “heart-oriented strengths,” such as gratitude and love in their interactions and their approach to singing. Other singers bring forth their creativity strength by making a classic song their own with a unique twist, by writing parts of the music to a given song, or playing an instrument while singing. Others unleash bravery as they take risks to sing a song in a new way, connect with the audience, or display more energy and zest on the stage.

Clearly, The Voice offers a feast of strengths-spotting. Refer to this list of 24 VIA Character Strengths while you watch The Voice. My bet is you will be able to spot all 24. This is a useful exercise for improving your strengths vocabulary and building your skill of strengths-spotting. The better you get at bringing a strengths lens to your life and the world around you, the more you will feel you have inner resources you can turn to when you need them.

2.) Positive Relationships

The development of positive relationships is often viewed as the “holy grail” of happiness. In other words, it is the most important pathway for many people to reach or maintain greater happiness.

Viewers are treated to the development of new relationships between the coaches and contestants. The majority of these are presented on the show as healthy and positive and look as though it will be a relationship that will continue into the future.

What specific, positive interaction on The Voice has had the biggest impact on you? How might you apply this to your own relationships?

3.) Positivity Ratio

Scientists have computed that a recipe for flourishing is to express 3 positive emotions/sentiments for every 1 negative emotion/sentiment. This 3:1 ratio helps to counterbalance our negativity bias, broaden our thinking in the moment, and build internal resources in our future.

When you watch the four judges from The Voice in action – Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton – you see the positivity ratio at its best. They offer constructive feedback but it is balanced by supportive, kind, encouraging, flattering, and congratulatory comments. Count the positive to negative comments and calculate the positivity ratio of each episode. Also, watch the response from the contestants. The singers are typically overwhelmed with gratitude and then perform even stronger the next time out. Positivity makes them better!

What is your positivity ratio? Courtesy of researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, find out your positivity ratio at her site.

4.) Character Strengths + Talents

Character strengths are who we are – our positive identity. They are capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving. Our talents are what we are good at (a talent for playing guitar or singing with perfect pitch) and are more innate and less changeable. Thought leaders in positive psychology note that if we can align our talents, our interests/passions, and our strengths of character that we reach our “power zone” or full potential.

The singers that make it further along in The Voice tend to be not only highly talented and passionate about what they are doing, but they find ways to express their character strengths as well. It is the contestants’ character strengths that viewers resonate with. Contestants work hard and overcome obstacles (perseverance), control their emotions of disappointment and anxiety (self-regulation), dig deep into learning from their mentor (love of learning), and repeatedly collaborate with other singers (teamwork). Indeed, it is character strengths that ignite and catalyze their talents and interests into action.

Similar to the judges and many contestants on The Voice, find ways to merge who you are (character) with what you are good at (talents) in your work and relationships.


Fredrickson, B. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. (2005). Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist, 60(7), 678-686.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.


Learn more about the VIA Institute on Character.

Learn more through an educational course on character strengths.

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