Spirituality | Character Strengths | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what spirituality is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Spirituality?

As is true for many of the character strengths in the VIA Classification, the strength of spirituality has many dimensions. Some of these include meaning, purpose, life calling, beliefs about the universe, the expression of virtue/goodness, and practices that connect with the transcendent. Spirituality has been defined consistently by scientists as the search for or connection with “the sacred”. The sacred might be that which is blessed, holy, revered, or particularly special. This can be secular or non-secular: sacredness might be pursued as the search for a purpose in life or as a close relationship with something greater; the sacred might be experienced in the forgiveness offered by a child, a humble moment between a leader and a subordinate, an awe-inspiring sunset, a profound experience during meditation or a religious service, or the self-sacrificing kindness of a stranger. As a character strength, spirituality involves the belief that there is a dimension to life that is beyond human understanding. Some people don’t connect this belief with the concept of a divinity and prefer to think of it in terms of a sense of meaning rather than spirituality, but in the VIA Classification the terms are considered closely related. Spirituality is believed to describe both the private, intimate relationship between humans and the divine, and the range of virtues that result from the relationships. Spirituality is universal. Although the specific content of spiritual beliefs varies, all cultures have a concept of an ultimate, transcendent, sacred force.

Which virtue is this strength?
Spirituality is a strength within the virtue category of transcendence, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Transcendence describes strengths that help you connect to the larger universe and provide meaning. The other strengths in Transcendence are appreciation of beauty & excellence , gratitude , hope , humor , and spirituality .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of Spirituality found Spirituality, through the expression of religiousness or sense of meaning, provides a sense of being grounded, increases optimism, and helps provide a sense of purpose for life. These in turn contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Youth who describe themselves as spiritual show better self-regulation and academic performance and tend to see the world as a more coherent place. Spirituality has also been linked with many character strengths, including humility, forgiveness, gratitude, kindness, hope, love, and zest.

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used spirituality in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better
  • What positive role (relationships, health, achievement, community involvement) does spirituality or a sense of meaning play in your life?
  • How is spirituality related to your religious practices or lack thereof?
  • To what extent do you feel that there is one true way to be spiritual for all people as opposed to people finding their own way?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of spirituality at work in the world.

  • Engaging in a spiritual experience with one of your close relationships — this might be meditation, contemplation, prayer, or doing a particular ritual together.
  • Place a symbol or meaningful object at your desk that reminds you of the sacredness of life or reflects your spirituality or religion.
  • Pausing to connect with the sacred within, what some refer to as your inner spirit.

Apply Your Strength

How can you make the most of spirituality in your everyday life? In the moments that matter most? Here are some ideas.
  • Cultivate sacred moments in which you set aside time to "just be" with a special/sacred object or space/environment.
  • Build in spiritual tools as a regular practice (ex: prayer, meditation, exploring nature) or as a way of approaching life (ex: giving charity, showing compassion to less fortunate individuals).
  • When experiencing trauma or a difficult situation, look for the deeper meaning and purpose of the experience.