Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, joined a team of 55 international researchers in 2001, to research the question: “How can we help young people realise their full potential?” This led to research in what makes life worth living, how we experience a richer life, how we reach optimal well-being and how we can become the best version of ourselves. Thus followed three years of research, which resulted in the identification of the 24 character strengths used by mankind.

This series of blogs helps you understand the 24 scientifically proven character strengths, which help mankind’s wellbeing and quality of life across the globe.

Strength #9 Appreciation Of Beauty And Excellence


This is a strength that can be easily taught. Just take a look around you! The world holds countless beautiful and wondrous things. People with this strength have these characteristics:
  • They notice and love beautiful things in nature, art, music, or people
  • They stop, let time stand still and smell, taste and listen to the amazing things around them
  • They are interested in films, pictures, music, drama, nature, etc.
  • They like talking about good experiences and successes

We can appreciate different types of beauty:
  • Physical beauty, as in a rainbow, a painting, a building, a piece of music, a butterfly…
  • An exceptional talent or skill, as in an artist, a scientist, an athlete, a singer…
  • Moral goodness, as in a person who is kind, loving, does good for others – like Mother Theresa, or Nelson Mandela…
All of these inspire positive feelings and emotions such as appreciation, awe, gratitude, and inspiration. This helps us connect to the world around us and feel happier. It helps us focus on what is around us, instead of focusing on what is inside us – worries, troubles, insecurities… Therefore it really helps give a sense of well-being and is great for resilience.

Here are a few things that you can do to help your child develop this strength:
Get Outside In Nature
Most of us spend too much time in front of screens — computers, mobile phones, tablets, or TVs. Get outside, leave the screens and to-do lists behind, and go on a family hike to a park, or somewhere else where you can see natural beauty. Even if it’s just in your garden! Set aside an hour, a morning, an afternoon, or a whole day or more and discover something new out there. Look at everything, the insects, the flowers, bark on the trees, the shape of clouds and how they move, the smell of freshly cut grass, fruit growing on a hedgerow.

Show Appreciation Yourself
If your children see you appreciating beauty and excellence, they will learn to do it too. Dance to that music, sing that song, appreciate the taste of a fresh strawberry, relish the smell of the sea, enjoy that amazing painting, read that beautiful poem. Tell them how much you love them, share how much you care for your friends and what you like about them, treasure your relatives, look after your pets… Use vocabulary to help get your children talking about beauty themselves, “It’s gorgeous”, “Incredible”, “Fantastic”, or “How perfect”.

Practice Gratitude
We touched on this earlier - gratitude gives us a sense that what we have is very special. Through gratitude we are better able to appreciate things around us, people around us, it helps us see things as being of value. Gratitude contributes to a positive mindset – focusing on what we have, instead of what we don’t have and appreciating the moment.

Use Your Senses
Children gain an appreciation of beauty and a feeling of wonder, by DOING things. Learning is all in the process. Young children really benefit from sensory activities. When planning such an activity for children, to help promote their aesthetic appreciation, ask yourself the following questions: Can they experience it with more than one sense? Can they interact with it – touch it, feel it? Is it interesting/fun/adventurous/exciting/intriguing? Beauty isn’t all about what we see. It is also what we hear (birds singing), smell (the perfume of a rose), taste (a wonderful meal), touch (the smoothness of a shell). Wonder is a contagious thing – spread it around liberally!

Get Out And About
Not everyone can afford a holiday to another country, visiting mountains, oceans, places of wonder – but most museums are free, natural history, science, art, design, history… If we give our children a breadth of knowledge, experience, and understanding, it broadens their minds – and makes them more open and available to appreciate what they see.

Books And Surfing
Beauty and excellence can also be admired and appreciated in people, their creations and achievements. There are many books and websites available to help us connect deeply with nature, art and other aspects of beauty and excellence. Libraries have a great selection of books with images to look at. It’s a great way of introducing the wonders of the world. Books like ‘Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls’ introduce incredible people, who have done amazing things The internet can also be an incredible source of looking at the world’s examples of fantastic things. National Geographic has a children’s magazine – and it also has a section called ‘Inspire Your Kids’ on its website.

These ideas are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ (see what I did there? – back to nature!). There are so many ways you can inspire your children to develop this strength. It’s a wonderful thing to have and, very sadly, is going to be even more important for the next generations who have to care for the world in which they live.

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