Developing Mental Toughness #2: Use Strengths

On October 10, World Mental Health day, I will launch a new digital book: Building Mental Toughness: Practical help to be yourself at your best. The book describes 15 Mentally Tough habits and characteristics and gives suggestions on how to develop or improve these. Based on my book, this post is the 2nd part in my series on Building Mental Toughness.

Use Strengths

We all have character and skill strengths. According to Martin Seligman, leading authority in positive psychology, the path to happiness is best achieved when we learn how to maximize our strengths. We often spend a disproportional amount of attention to our weaknesses, yet science shows clearly that correcting our weaknesses takes us only so far on the journey to reach our potential. Doing more of what we do best opens up the most effective pathways to both success and happiness.

There are 24 character strengths we all possess in varying degrees, which make up our unique profile. They fall under six broad virtue categories:

  • wisdom: strengths that that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge.
  • courage: emotional strengths that involve the will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition.
  • humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others.
  • justice: civic strengths that underlie healthy community life.
  • temperance: strengths that protect against excess
  • transcendence: strengths that forge connection to the larger universe and provide meaning.

These virtues have been developed over thousands of years of religious and philosophical traditions. They are malleable and valued in their own right by almost every culture.

Seligman developed the scientific VIA survey of character strength, which has been taken by over 3 million people in 190 countries to make positive change for themselves. People who use their top 5 strengths each day are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their work and 3 times more likely to report high life satisfaction. Using your strength makes it easier to get through tough moments in life and helps in whatever direction your journey is taking you.

About the author:

Niels is an accredited Mental Toughness coach and founder of He is passionate about making individuals and businesses being themselves at their best.

Singly copies of my book Building Mental Toughness: Practical help to become yourself at your best, can be bought online from October 10th onward. 50% of my book’s proceedings will go to organizations supporting Mental Health. For corporate copies, you can email me at