Character Strengths as Paths to Spiritual Life


There is a noticeable increase of interest in the study of spirituality within the context of positive psychology. The literature review shows several parallels between dimensions of spirituality as explored within psychology of religion and spirituality, and the model of character strengths (CS), as developed by positive psychology. However, coming from the domain of psychology rather than theology, these studies do not go deep into the paradox of understanding, practicing and experiencing the ineffable unified source pointed at by spirituality, and which lies at the heart of various spiritual traditions. Moreover, these studies lack identification and in-depth explanation of potential mechanisms underlying the associations between elements of these two domains. This presentation (1) considers common basic assumptions that are emerging from the study of various spiritual traditions (2) presents the VIA model of character strengths (3) introduces the concept of spiritual intelligence (4) proposes a model for understanding the relationship between strength and spirituality, illustrating some of the ways that spirituality can be understood and practiced by the use of character strengths. We suggest viewing character strengths as the various ways in which non-duality (a higher unified Truth) is manifested in duality (human conduct) and considering spiritual intelligence as a motivational and competitive factor for the connection between strength and spirituality as well as vice versa. The implications suggest the possibility to create a positive loop where nurturing CS can increase spiritual intelligence, increasing the realization of the non-dual nature of things, which in turn increases the expression of CS.

Author Information
Hadassah Littman-Ovadia, Ariel University, Israel
Amnon David, Sequoia, Israel

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2020
Stream: General Psychology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon