Turn Towards Transcendence

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, we took time for Temperance, the core virtue that protects us from excess. Temperance is the practiced ability to observe and moderate one’s emotions, motivation, and behavior internally. The VIA identifies Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, and Self-Regulation as the pathways to Temperance (1). I hope you found the explanation of each strength, along with its motto and action opportunities beneficial. 

Did you embrace my invitation and set aside time to develop your pathway to Temperance through a personal strength? I know I did. Moreover, I noticed that by engaging my personal pathway to Temperance I was able to preserve and more efficiently direct my energy. A major bonus as energy is a limited resource! What about you? Did you notice any differences in your world as you engaged your strength of Temperance?

This week, let’s turn towards Transcendence.

It’s easy to get swept away in the ordinary business of our daily lives. The strengths of Transcendence help us take a step back. Transcendence forges connection to something higher or larger than ourselves and provides a sense of meaning and purpose in our worlds. Some say Transcendence offers perspective. It can help folks take a broader view and link our worlds to the universe. Transcendence can also be a source of comfort, peace, awe, inspiration, and/or motivation. The VIA includes the character strengths of Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Spirituality in the virtue category of Transcendence. 

Let’s jump in and discover:

How Transcendence impacts your life?

Do you notice and appreciate things that are beautiful, exceptional or distinct in quality? If so, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence may be a personal strength. It means that you value moments of beauty and excellence in the world around you. Your sense of appreciation is pervasive, and you feel gratitude across the domains of your life – from nature to art to science to the sometimes quiet allure of the every day (1). Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence manifests in several ways. You may experience awe and wonder in the presence of physical beauty be it visual, auditory, tactile, or abstract. Admiration of high levels of skill or excellence may energize you to pursue personal goals. Or perhaps you feel elevation when you witness moral goodness or virtue in others. This strength may even encourage you to be better or more loving yourself (2). If this sounds like you, you may enjoy developing your strength of Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence by logging the things you find beautiful and writing a few sentences a day in a “beauty log” for the week. Alternatively, I invite you actively seek out and enjoy green spaces in your environment. This can be particularly helpful if you live in an urban setting (3). Take a daily photo of something you appreciate and find beautiful over the next week or create your own opportunity to engage your Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. 

Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence’s Motto: Find beauty in nature, art, ideas, and people.

Gratitude means you acknowledge goodness in your world and recognize when it is coming from somewhere outside of yourself. If Gratitude is your pathway to Transcendence, you know when good things happen to you and do not take them for granted. You consistently take the time to express your thanks to friends and family members (1). Gratitude can emerge when you received a desired benefit from a someone, or it can be a generalized state that results from the knowledge and appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to you. If Gratitude is a top strength for you, I invite you to the Three Good Things exercise. Write down three things that you are grateful for and why each evening this week. If you'd rather, you could set aside ten minutes a day to savor a pleasant experience or express your gratitude to someone in your world that you have not yet taken the opportunity to thank (3).

Gratitude’s Motto: Tell people “thank you,” often.

Hope is yet another powerful pathway to Transcendence. Folks who are high in Hope believe that they can control their futures, expect the best moving forward, and work to achieve it. Hope is closely linked to an Optimistic Explanatory Style, which means that you explain events that happen as external, specific, and non-pervasive (1). If Hope feels authentic to you, perhaps you would enjoy engaging your Hope by writing a story where you successfully overcome obstacles to reach a goal or the details of a recent good event. Be sure to note why this moment will last and spread because of your actions. Alternatively, the next time you encounter a moment of adversity focus on a time when you overcame a similar adversity in the past to promote Hope (3).

Hope’s Motto: Be positive, especially when others are not.

It may surprise some of you to see Humor as a pathway to Transcendence. Folks who are high in Humor see the light side of life, enjoy bringing smiles to other folks, and laughing. Yet, Humor is not just the ability to connect and make someone else smile or laugh, it also is means you have a cheerful attitude in moments of challenge and can sustain a good mood (1). If Humor is your go to path to Transcendence, why not think about a time when you used humor for the benefit of yourself and others? You could keep a daily journal of life’s funny situations, comments, and events, or simply watch a sitcom or read something that tickles your funny bone (3)! Notice the connection born from a good sense of humor and turn towards Transcendence. 

Humor’s Motto: Laugh a lot, with others.

Those who are strong in Spirituality know where they fit into the larger scheme of things and have coherent beliefs about meaning and purpose of the universe. Spirituality is a belief in a sacred force and describes the intimate relationship between human beings and the divine (1). In fact, these beliefs shape their actions and offer them a sense of comfort. Spirituality is universal even though an individual’s beliefs may vary from others. If Spirituality offers you access to Transcendence, I invite you to dedicate time to cultivate a sacred moment in your day through prayer or meditation in a dedicated environment or with a special/scared object. Alternatively, you could use spiritual tools in your daily approach to life and align a belief with an action – like showing compassion to others, volunteering or donating to a charity of your choosing. You could even use your Spirituality to look for deeper meaning and purpose in a difficult experience (3).

Spirituality’s Motto: Look for what is sacred in this moment.

Which of these pathways to Transcendence resonates with you? Once again, I invite you to take action this week. Turn towards Transcendence and engage your Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, or Spirituality in a personally authentic way. Use an action opportunity listed above or create your own plan to develop your core virtue of Transcendence.

I hope you enjoy turning towards Transcendence, and I look forward to seeing you next week as we discover and build our personal pathways to Courage! 

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.


1. Peterson C, Seligman M. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol 1). Oxford University Press; 2004.

2. Polly S, Britton K, Maymin S. (Eds.). Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Positive Psychology News, LLC; 2015.

3. Rashid T, Anjum A. 340 ways to use VIA character strengths. Unpublished manuscript; 2005.

4. Wedding D, Niemiec R. Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe; 2008.

* Special thanks to viacharacter.org for the Character Strength Mottos