Appreciating Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: The Strength Booster (Part 2) | VIA Institute

Appreciating Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: The Strength Booster (Part 2)

By Ruth Pearce

Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence - seeing the best in people and things around us! We define Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence as “you notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.”

Research shows that there are three types of goodness to which individuals high in Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence are responsive:

  1. Physical beauty. (AWE & WONDER). This may be visual such as seeing a wonderful view, auditory such as hearing the dawn chorus, tactile such as touching the roughness of the bark of a tree, or abstract experiencing a sense of wonder at everything around us. This type of goodness produces awe and wonder in the individual experiencing it.
  2. Skill or talent (ADMIRATION). This is often energizing, and makes the individual want to pursue their own goals. It produces admiration. This could be watching and listening to a virtuoso musician, reading about a great scientist, politician, or invention, admiring the way a writer tells their story or a filmmaker weaves the components of a great movie together.
  3. Virtue or moral goodness (ELEVATION & INSPIRATION). Moral goodness makes the individual want to be better, more loving, and produces feelings of elevation. Seeing someone do something that seems “right” and “fair”. Observing someone taking the high ground. Listening to speeches by great influencers such as Martin Luther King.

Appreciation at work

At work, this strength can be really helpful when it comes to noticing and highlighting the good work – and strengths - of others. Using appreciation makes it easier to provide recognition when someone goes above and beyond, and we are more likely to feel comfortable showing recognition in front of others. When team-members feel their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated, they tend to give more discretionary effort to project tasks.

Other strengths that are closely related to Appreciation are Gratitude, Curiosity, Love of Learning, Kindness and Creativity . You may want to focus on one of these related strengths to help boost your appreciation.

I am an avid strengths spotter. I will point out the strengths I see in people wherever I go, whoever they are. I trust that my strength of Appreciation will guide me wisely and make my feedback feel authentic and warm. This strength gives me the confidence to speak up when I might otherwise observe and say nothing. I will give you an example.

The other day I was riding my bike through our neighborhood. As I was riding on this particular day, I noticed that one front yard had the most amazing display of roses. It reminded me of the rose garden at a historic home I used to visit with my parents when I was growing up. In that historic garden, the perfume was intoxicating. I found myself wondering whether the blooms in this particular garden had that same wonderful perfume – so many flowers seem to have no smell at all these days. I moved closer to the garden, took some photos and leaned in to smell. The aroma was at once sweet and aromatic.

How could I let the owner know that in some small way they had made a difference to someone else’s day? I wanted to knock on the door to express my pleasure, but the unwritten rules of neighborhood living, social mores that make approaching strangers at best risky and for some people downright threatening, made me pause. Then I thought about how I would feel if I rode away without saying and I walked to the front door and knocked. I could hear a dog barking inside and appreciated the way it was warning its owner of a stranger at the door. A woman looked puzzled through the glass. She opened it tentatively, and I immediately apologized for disturbing her and for if what I was about to say seemed like a thing a stalker would do, and told her I wanted her to know how much I appreciated the sight and smell of the roses in her garden. She beamed with pleasure and took me out to show me the different roses, explaining that they are her husband’s pride and joy. In that moment, we two strangers were united in our enjoyment of a simple pleasure.

That day my Appreciation boosted my Bravery and Gratitude.

I feel equally moved when I see a blue lizard on the path in front of me, beautiful intricate bark on a tree, all the shades of green on a hillside. Favorite videos of mine show unusual musical performances or great feats of skill and courage. I feel admiration for people making beautiful music. And I feel inspired to try my hand at new things. I am also moved by movies – the bravery, perseverance, social intelligence, self-regulation, love and kindness in my favorite movie, V for Vendetta, and the richness of the costume and the music, the creativity, love, kindness, humor, forgiveness and self-regulation in Moulin Rouge.

What inspires your appreciation? How will you express it to another? How might it boost their day?

References

McGrath, R.E. (2017). Technical Report: The VIA Assessment Suite for Adults: Development and initial evaluation, Cincinnati, OH: VIA Institute on Character

Posttraumatic growth in various dimensions corresponds with particular character strengths: improved relationships with others (kindness, love), openness to new possibilities (curiosity, creativity, love of learning), greater appreciation of life (appreciation of beauty, gratitude, zest), enhanced personal strength (bravery, honesty, perseverance), and spiritual development (religiousness; Peterson et al., 2008; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995).

Peterson, C., Park, N., Pole, N., D’Andrea, W., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2008). Strengths of Character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21 (2), 214–217. 2. Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1995). Trauma and transformation: Growing in the aftermath of suffering. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths/appreciation-of-beauty-and-excellence

Niemiec, R. M. (2018). Character strengths interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston: Hogrefe. p141

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