The 5 Happiness Strengths

The science of positive psychology has revealed several character strengths that are particularly connected with higher levels of happiness. Over and over again studies show these five strengths might be considered “the happiness strengths”:


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Are you high in any of these character strengths? According to research by the VIA Institute, over 75 percent of people have one of these strengths in their top 5.

Why zest? When you use your zest strength you are being enthusiastic and excited about what’s going on in your life. You are doing what psychologists call—behavioral activation—because you are lifting your energy levels by taking action with your body and mind.

Why hope? To be hopeful means to be good at thinking about the future and the various goals you want to accomplish. Hopeful people are great at considering many different pathways to reach their goals and they have the confidence and motivation that they can get there!

Why gratitude? When we express gratitude we cause an immediate shift in our thinking and feeling. We feel positive emotions and think outside of our autopilot mind. Gratitude moves us outside of ourselves to connect with other people and thus can be viewed as a mechanism for building positive relationships.

Why curiosity? The exercise of the curious part of our mind leads us to pursue the new and the different. It brings us to explore our world, ourselves, and other people. This, in turn, leads us to new discoveries and personal growth…and greater well-being.

Why love? The strength of love involves both the giving and receiving of warmth and closeness with others. This is foundational for building healthy, positive relationships, which are viewed by researchers as one of the best pathways for boosting our happiness.