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According to a newly published study by researchers from the University of Zurich, working on character strengths increases a person’s life satisfaction and sense of well-being.

The researchers define character strengths as “traits that are rated as morally positive.” For the study, researchers divided a sample of 178 adult participants into three groups. One group practiced training exercises to enhance character traits such as curiosity, gratitude, optimism, humor and enthusiasm. Another focused on appreciation of beauty, creativity, kindness, love of learning and foresight. The third was the control group. The groups participated in training exercises for 10 weeks:

“The exercises consisted of activities that the test subjects could easily incorporate into their daily routine. For example, they practiced gratitude by writing a thank-you letter to someone who had played an important role in their lives and trained their appreciation of beauty by paying attention to moments and situations in which they felt admiration for something beautiful. This could be anything from people and things they liked to special abilities and talents of fellow human beings or moving gestures and actions.”

The researchers found that there was a significant increase in life satisfaction from the group that trained their curiosity, gratitude, optimism, humor and enthusiasm. However, the researchers report, both of the groups participating in the exercises benefited from the training.

“Anyone who trained either set of strengths reported an increase in their sense of well-being,” said researcher Willibald Ruch. “This manifested itself in the fact that these participants were more cheerful or more often in a good mood, for instance.”

Source: University of Zurich

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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