One way to use the Character Strengths, including your top Signature Strengths, is to discover ways to combine them with the 18 practices of the Excelerated Life™. Here is a look at combining the practice of Excelerated Acceptance™ with each of the 24 character strengths.TheExceleratedLife.com
Acceptance is . . .
Acceptance is the first step in moving forward. It is the first step for making a change when change is possible. And acceptance is the first step in finding peace of mind when change is not possible. We begin to climb out of the “wallowing hole” of self-pity and self-doubt by accepting what is. Acceptance is acknowledging your feelings, then finding ways to change what you can.
Acceptance means you accept life as it is. It does not mean passive resignation to life. In fact, it may take a tremendous amount of effort and motivation to “accept the things we cannot change” and to “change the things we can”.
Acceptance is not giving up or giving in. It is not surrendering. It doesn’t mean you can’t work to change things. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It simply means you understand that things are what they are and that what is, is.
You don’t have to be “OK” with the thing you accept. Accepting doesn’t mean we now want what we do not want. We don’t have to feel good about it or agree with it. And by accepting a situation, we’re not giving up on having a different reality come to pass.
Accepting the current reality is often the first step in making a change and moving ahead. But it is only one step. It is not the final result. Don’t get stuck at this level.
The 24 Character Strengths
The character strengths are 24 specific traits, identified by the early practitioners of Positive Psychology, led by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson. Character strengths are the components that comprise the “good life”. They represent “qualities valued across time, across nationalities, and across religions as elements of strong and virtuous behavior” and “that we value in ourselves, our friends, our children, our colleagues, and our leaders.” [Polly]
The 24 strengths are grouped within these six “virtues”: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.
Using your character strengths leads to a sense of empowerment and brings the benefits that come with increased positivity. Plus, “when people are aware of their own character strengths, they use them more intentionally for their own benefit and for the benefit of the people around them.” [Polly]
Your Signature Strengths
We each have and use all 24 of the character strengths, some to a greater extent than others. Each of us uses some of the strengths more than others. These come more naturally to us and we often tap into them without thinking about it. These are generally our top 5 or 6 strengths (of the 24) and we refer to them as our Signature Strengths.
You can find your own unique Signature Strengths by completing a Character Strengths Profile at the VIA website. You’ll receive a ranking of all 24 of the strengths including your top Signature Strengths.
Using Excelerated Acceptance™ with the 24 Strengths
One way to approach using the Character strengths, including your top Signature Strengths, is to discover ways to combine them with the 18 practices of the Excelerated Life™. We could consider how a character strength helps you with an Excelerated Life™ practice or, alternately, how the practice can enhance the character strength. Here is a look at combining the practice of Excelerated Acceptance™ with each of the character strengths.
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Wisdom
Creativity: The strength of Creativity includes two essential components: “originality and adaptiveness” [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Adaptiveness means being able to change to suit different conditions. Acceptance is often the first step needed to adapt to changing situations.
Curiosity: Curiosity is associated with exploration and discovery and being open to new experiences. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Some of these experiences come in the form of adversity. Acceptance allows us to take the lessons from harsh or unhappy or even painful experiences rather than arguing against reality.
Judgment: The strength of Judgement allows one to analytically evaluate ideas, opinions, and facts; and to act on evidence. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Acceptance means you acknowledge that this is the current reality, taking life as it comes. Using Judgement, you truthfully evaluate the situation as it is. Not what you wish it were. Not what you want it to be. And not what you think it should be.
Love of Learning: This strength involves the desire and ability to acquire knowledge and put it to use
As in using Curiosity, Love of Learning can help you learn the painful lessons that Life gives you. Knowing that you have an opportunity to learn can help you see the necessity of accepting the painful experience in order to receive the learning.
Perspective: Perspective is seeing the big picture and analyzing a situation from different angles, “to see the forest as well as the trees”. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
This strength helps with an important aspect of Acceptance — looking for the “seed of good”. Finding the good in failure and adversity is hard to do. But when you find it, the darkest problems can yield the greatest blessings. The “seed of good” is always there, if you believe it is. And when you believe it is there, you will do the soul-searching that is often required to find it. Perspective is necessary for this.
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Courage
Bravery: The strength of Bravery helps you to act in spite of fear, facing – not avoiding – challenges, threats, or difficulties.
Struggles are a way of life, and we have to learn to confront them. Changes are the result of cause and effect. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the effect. It doesn’t matter if you like the effect. Change is a process. Growth is a process. That is reality. And it does no good to fight against reality. Don’t shy away from challenges. Use your bravery to shore up acceptance.
Honesty: Honesty involves speaking the truth and acting without pretense, being genuine and sincere.
It’s hard for us to accept the things we don’t want to be true. But in the long run, it’s harder not to accept. Failing to accept reality creates suffering where there is already pain.
Be honest about the situation; don’t live in denial, don’t bury your head in the sand, thinking it will all go away or that it isn’t that bad. Before you can begin to change the situation, you have to accept it as it is; Honesty can help w/ that.
Perseverance: Using this strength means you finish what you start, staying the course in the face of obstacles and setbacks.
The fact is sometimes you have to accept the struggle again and again and again. Accept that struggle will always be part of your reality. We are never “finished”, never exonerated. Perseverance helps you stay the course.
Zest: People exhibiting the strength of zest approach life with vitality and energy. They don’t go about anything halfheartedly but full on with excitement.
We don’t typically think of the situations where you must use the practice of acceptance as places you approach with zest. But to keep yourself out of the doldrums of negative thinking, take some action. When you face a setback or failure, get busy. You may not be ready to act on the event or situation that caused the failure or problem. That’s OK. Turn your attention to doing something – anything – else. And approach it with zest!
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Humanity
Kindness: When you use the strength of Kindness, you can show compassion and concern for others, care for and nurture them. You can also use this strength to be kind to yourself.
This is a strength to draw on when you are helping a loved one to accept. But you can also use it for yourself. Acceptance may take time. A major failure is likely to leave you a little shell-shocked. You feel disappointment. And you may find the situation hard to believe or difficult to accept at first. You could be angry or hurt or embarrassed. It’s OK to take a few minutes or a few hours or a few days to regroup, to lick your wounds, and to take care of yourself. No pity parties but a little self-care is called for.
If you have a major event to deal with – the death of a loved one, a debilitating disease, the loss of a job, or of a love – you feel some strong emotions. Accept these as well. Express them in healthy ways. Then, when you are ready, move on.
Love: “Love as a character strength refers to the degree to which you value close relationships with people, and contribute to that closeness in a warm and genuine way.” [“The 24 Character Strengths.”]
This strength includes the ability to give love and to receive love, to love and be loved.
Just as with Kindness, Love is a strength you can use to help others accept, as well as yourself.
This strength includes the ability to receive love as well. Use it to accept help and care from others.
When our daughter was gravely ill as a child, we were counseled by a wise friend. “People want to help,” he said. “They need to feel helpful, even if it’s just picking up your dry cleaning.” We moved from trying to be self-sustaining (impossible in that difficult time) to learning to accept the help and love of others. And it made a difference in our ability to accept and deal with the larger situation.
Social Intelligence: Social Intelligence has two basic components: “Social awareness – what we sense about others and social facility – what we do with our awareness”. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
A good chunk of the work of acceptance must be done internally, on your own. The good news is that you don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. Reach out to trusted friends or advisors to give you support. Conversely, if you know someone who is struggling with a difficult situation, offer support to them and encourage them – gently – to begin the work of acceptance.
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Justice
Fairness: The strength of Fairness enables you to treat people justly and with empathy and compassion.
Often, we see ourselves as having been unfairly treated by Life when faced with accepting. “It isn’t fair!” we shout to anyone who will listen. It does no good to rail against the injustice or ask “Why did this have to happen to me?” Nor is denial helpful. Denying it, arguing with it, does not help. And being impatient to get back to “normal” prevents you from learning the life lessons embedded in the changed circumstance.
Leadership: The strength of Leadership gives one the ability to articulate a vision that inspires and encourages group members to work together.
When you are a member of a team – work team, sports team, family group, or any type of team – you and your team will likely face obstacles and losses that you must deal with. You can be a leader of the team by sharing the ideas and practices of acceptance as the first step toward overcoming the difficulty.
Teamwork: Teamwork is the strength of committing to work for a group’s success.
Like the strength of leadership, the strength of teamwork allows you to help the groups or teams of which you are a member face up to accepting and overcoming the obstacles and disappointments the team faces.
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Temperance
Forgiveness: Using the strength of Forgiveness helps one let go of feelings of anger, hurt, and resentment when someone hurts or disappoints us.
While acceptance may not directly influence the character strength of forgiveness, it is a necessary first step in tapping into that strength. When you accept the actions requiring forgiveness, you cut off the ruminations, the dredging up of the hurt, anger, disappointment, and other ill feelings. You must get past these in order to truly forgive. Acceptance can help with that.
Humility: The strength of Humility allows you to accurately assess your abilities and accomplishments while acknowledging that you are capable of making mistakes and having imperfections. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Humility directly involves acceptance. Acceptance that we are not perfect, we are human with human imperfections. But the other side of humility is to accurately assess your abilities and accept those, too, without being falsely modest.
Prudence: Prudence is a “strength of restraint”. [“The 24 Character Strengths”] Prudence helps you make careful choices, anticipating the consequences of your actions.
Acceptance is the realization that it isn’t what happens to us that is important. It’s how we respond to what happens. If you remain positive rather than negative and complaining, everything eventually sorts itself out. By hating something, you resist it and, if you resist it, it will never, ever work out. Let the strength of Prudence help you take the right outlook on the situation and remember what is important.
Self-Regulation: The use of this strength gives one the ability to exert control over one’s responses, to resist temptation, and initiate actions.
Remember, there are things we can control and there are things outside of our direct control. But the one thing over which we always have complete control is our response to life’s circumstances. You can control the meaning you give to events. You can control if you learn the lessons or not. Use the strength of Self-Regulation to help you take this important step of acceptance.
Excelerated Acceptance™ and the Virtue of Transcendence
Appreciation of beauty and excellence: This strength includes the appreciation of physical beauty, skill or talents that have been developed, and moral goodness or virtue.
Acceptance can be used in a couple of different ways here. You may have a desire for a talent, or a type of physical beauty, or a virtue that you just don’t have. Accepting that fact allows you to move your focus to the beauty and talent and virtues that you do possess and build on those.
Another important facet of acceptance is to look for the “seed of benefit” in the hard lessons we are sometimes faced with. Tapping into an appreciation of excellence can help you look within the difficulty to find the lesson, the seed of benefit, in the situation.
Gratitude: Gratitude involves “feeling and expressing a deep sense of thankfulness” for all the goodness in our lives; it especially involves showing appreciation and thankfulness to others. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Life is a persistent teacher and sends us lessons in many forms. Some events we perceive as positive and some we perceive as negative, but everything comes to us as a lesson. Accept your reality. Give thanks for the blessings of adversity — one day, they will enable you to soar.
Hope: When you exhibit the strength of Hope, you have positive expectations for the future and you act to bring them to fruition. Hope involves “agency” – the belief that the future can be better than the present and that you have the ability to make it so.
Embrace hope. Here’s what it means to have hope: You believe that the future will be better than the present and that you have the power to make it so. Hope is the idea that we can learn and grow and become better. This helps in our struggle to accept what is as we can see an outcome different from the present situation.
Humor: Humor is the ability to find amusement in situations. It includes taking a “composed and cheerful view” when faced with adversity. [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Acceptance becomes easier if you can find a glimpse of humor in the situation. Sometimes, laughing at your predicament is all you can do, and laughing makes it easier to accept. Of course, there will be dark times where it may be difficult and even inappropriate to see a humorous side. But when you can, use this strength to help you practice acceptance.
Spirituality: In the VIA Strengths Classification, “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.” [“The 24 Character Strengths”]
Understand that there is a spiritual aspect of acceptance. Acceptance means you acknowledge that this is the current reality; that you accept the struggle. It means you are no longer judging yourself, no longer resisting. Less resistance equals less suffering. Acceptance means accepting life as it is. We can’t choose to have events or people be other than they are. But we can choose to accept them as they are and move on from there.
What Do I Do Now?
Now that you have some ideas of how to combine the character strengths with Excelerated Acceptance™, here are some ways to put the ideas to use.
First, if you don’t yet know what your Signature Strengths are, take the survey here.
If you are struggling to accept something right now, think of ways you can use your Signature Strengths to help accept the situation, event, or person. If not now, keep them in mind for use in the future.
Excelerated Acceptance™ means you can identify and accept the things you are struggling with. Acceptance is the first step for making a change when change is possible. And the first step in finding peace of mind when change is not possible. You can draw on your Signature Strengths (and the other character strengths) to aid in this endeavor. They help you embrace your Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Acceptance™ – identifying and accepting the things you are struggling with — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Polly, Shannon & Kathryn Britton. Character Strengths Matter: How To Live A Full Life. Positive Psychology News, LLC, 2015.
“The 24 Character Strengths.” Character Strengths/All 24 Character Strengths. VIA Institute on Character, . Web. November 17, 2021.