6 Best TED Talks on VIA Character Strengths and Virtues

Selection TEDtalks Character Strengths

Identifying strengths is a foundation of positive psychology. One way to learn your strengths is through the VIA Survey, a personality test and strengths inventory, which identifies six virtues present in people’s personalities.

The virtues are:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge;
  2. Courage;
  3. Humanity;
  4. Justice;
  5. Temperance;
  6. Transcendence.

Each one of these virtues consists of its own array of corresponding strengths. Awareness and application of character strengths have been found to have a positive influence on work and life satisfaction, and they can increase the experience of positive emotions.

Do you know your character strengths? If not, take the VIA Survey now to find them out. Once you know your strengths, the question becomes: Are you effective at applying them?

We encourage you to check out some TED Talks that teach us something about each virtue. Each talk is categorized by the virtue it corresponds with, along with the strengths associated with that virtue. Enjoy!


1) Wisdom and Knowledge: Creativity, Curiosity, Judgment, Love of Learning, and Perspective

Winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and dubbed “the man with 5 brains,” Murray Gell-Mann has dreamed of being a musician since he was young. Gell-Mann  urges us to “forget about books” since “learning has no boundary.”

Beauty, Truth and … Physics? by Murray Gell-Mann

This creative passion led him to form El Sistema, a publically-funded musical education program in Venezuela that serves 300,000 low-income children. In this talk, Gell-Mann argues that music leads children to see a new perspective of their lives, both emotionally and intellectually.


2) Courage: Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, and Zest

What would it take for you to risk your life for something? Money? Fame? Dignity? In his talk, Mark Bezos, the assistant captain of a volunteer firefighting organization, explains why there isn’t much preventing him from going inside a burning building.

A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter, by Mark Bezos

Bezos will go into burning buildings often, even if it’s just to rescue a pair of shoes. He shares these moments of risk and how he even thinks they’re fun. Though his work receives neither attention nor awards, Bezos believes that it is essential for us not to wait to make a difference in somebody’s life, even if it means taking a risk.


3) Humanity: Love, Kindness and Social Intelligence

With over 39 million views (and counting), how could we overlook this talk on the topic of humanity?  A researcher-storyteller, Brené Brown delves into the topic of how to find meaning in our lives in this talk.

The Power of Vulnerability, by Brené Brown

Brown shows us that when we want to control and perfect things, we are acting against our true nature and are preventing ourselves from feeling the positive side of life. Her decades of research confirm the power when we believe we are enough as we are, and all the vulnerability we embody.


4) Justice: Teamwork, Fairness, and Leadership

“Having laws but not having them enforced means nothing,” Gary Haugen argues in this speech.

The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now, by Gary Haugen

The lives of the impoverished are perhaps not always about money or the lack of utilities. Through his fight against poverty as a civil rights lawyer, Haugen will show you the unheard story of poverty, how the ways that we deal with this social construct are wrong, and how to fix it going forward.


5) Temperance: Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, and Self-Regulation

From her humble roots as a child refugee to her role as a successful entrepreneur, a mother of an autistic child, and a philanthropist, Shirley’s story is worth hearing. We can all learn temperance from this role model.

Why Do Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads? by Dame Stephanie Shirley

Being one of the first female tech entrepreneurs in the 1960s was extremely challenging. It went against the expectation for most women to stay home, cook, and keep the house clean. Dame Stephanie Shirley overcame that challenge, and she became one of the richest women in England.

6) Transcendence: Appreciation of Beauty, Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Spirituality

See the upside-down world of champion freediver Guillaume Néry. In this talk, he shows what goes on behind his records and competitions.

The Exhilarating Peace of Freediving, by Guillaume Néry

Travel with Néry to the bottom of the ocean to realize his moment of connection, one that still sustains him. What can we learn from the watery world 123 meters below the sea?


Hungry For More Strengths?

Have you taken the VIA Survey? How have you gained a better understanding of your strengths and virtues and how to apply them?

Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Chompoo Chimes, B.A., Honours, is a coach in communication and Psychology for well-being. She occasionally works as a motivational speaker for educational institutions in her country. She has taken part in numerous motivational speaking conferences, laughter therapy workshops, and Changing Life with Positive Thinking project which became the best-selling book ‘Nang Yang Lang Jai’.


  1. Tim Goerz

    Fabulous. Dame Stepanie Shirley is absolutely brilliant. I would so love to have a G/T with her. What a LADY!!

  2. Feng Liu

    Great! Every video gives us positive energy.

  3. jyothi Menon



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