We are all unique and we all have strengths which allow us to contribute to the world. In the early 2000’s, Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Christopher Peterson developed the VIA Character Strengths. Their research determined that there are 24 common character strengths that each of us possess to one degree or another, giving us a common language to use, but still recognizing that each of us is unique.
Each of these Character Strengths fall under one of six broad categories called Virtues. These Virtues and Character Strengths have proven to be universal across cultures and nations. Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of the 24 strengths that we all share, yet make you uniquely you!
Next we will look at the Virtue of Temperance, which brings together those strengths that center on moderation. The strengths associated with this virtue protect us from excess and impulsivity.
The Character Strength of Prudence is one of restraint. It is about being careful with decisions, not taking unnecessary risks or not doing something that you may later regret. Prudence is a powerful strength which allows you to consider both short and long term consequences. Those with this signature strength are masters at practical reasoning and are able to objectively examine the potential consequences of decisions and actions. They can see both the forest and the trees.
The absence of Prudence is often careless or impulsive decision making devoid of any consideration of the consequences. It's opposite is recklessness or making choices without caring about the impact of them down the road. In excess it manifests by intentionally avoiding any situations that may have unpleasantness or difficulties. Understanding these opposites, absences and excesses can help us identify Prudence in ourselves and in others.
Prudence can be a powerful strength when properly balanced. Even if this isn't a strong area for you, you can still build this strength over time. To begin, consider decisions that you have made and the ultimate consequences of them, both positive and negative. Did you recognize or consider any of these possibilities when you were making the decision? If not, what could you have done differently in your decision making process? Several activities like thinking twice before you speak, making decisions at times when you're free from distractions and practicing visualizing the consequences of your decisions at later points in your life can all help to make you more aware. Awareness of how you make decisions and react to life's situations can help you build this strength and lead you to better outcomes.
If you would like to learn more about Prudence and your individual strengths, you can visit the website below and complete the free VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire.