What does it mean to have character

What Does It Mean To Have Character?




Character Development Pathway from the Just Be Nice Project

Character. It’s a complicated concept, one that we believe doesn’t get enough attention. It can be defined in several contexts, however character, in the definition we seek to bring to the forefront of business, political and social improvement is;

                  Moral excellence and firmness, earned through one’s actions.

​Character, is a standard of excellence. An adherence to one’s values and principles, based on what you do each day. Every person has the opportunity to decide their values, but values leave a lot of room for interpretation. To live a life of character, your values must be attached to principles and those principles must be adhered to, in order to develop character.

Values – Your ideas about how things should be, and what matters to you.
Principles – The rules you follow to make sure you are living your values.
Character – The strength with which you adhere to your principles.

Unfortunately for people looking for a quick fix, due to the ‘doing’ nature of character development, one cannot develop it overnight. In fact, it is increasingly difficult to develop character if your values and principles are never tested. You can tell people your values, but you cannot tell people you have character, because you must live it to earn it.

Character is developed through being tested, especially in the face of adversity and difficulty. Simply going through a tough time, or being tested does not mean you develop character automatically, adherence to your principles when they tested is what defines character.

For example, being nice when everything is going well is easy. It is not so character building to be nice to strangers when you are in the middle of a wonderful day/week/year. If you are being nice when things aren’t going well, when it takes effort, you don’t feel like it and it’s harder to manage, that is when you develop character. Tough times develop character because they prove to you and to others that you can live your principles when it matters, when it is hard.

Focus on values, is focus on ideas. Ideas are malleable, they can change easily and quickly, you can tell people what they are. Ideas can be interpreted differently. Value-alignment, in practice, is largely useless for this very reason. It is easy to proclaim that you value something, without ever actually living any part of those values. We all know people that value health, but don’t look after theirs, businesses that say they value employees or customers, until it costs their time or money, people that value equality, but stay quiet as their bosses or colleagues practice bigotry.

Values are simply not as useful as principles and character. In the United States right now, we have a country that is virtually unanimous on the value that ‘Children should not get shot in school’, they Value the lives of children.

Beyond the agreement that children shouldn’t die in school (a value-alignment) the principles differ greatly. From arming teachers, to disarming a country, to metal detectors, security guards, bullet proof doors etc. The difference in principles is what causes the dissonance, not a difference in values. Principle-alignment, alignment of the rules you make to live your values, are more important than values alignment, which is simply agreeing on ideas.

If you claim that you value helping people, and that the follow-on principle for you is that you ‘will help someone when you see that they need a hand’, then you don’t have any character built around that principle until you actually encounter that scenario. If you see someone needing help, and you help, then you are building character. If you had to really go out of your way, and it was difficult for you to help that person, you are building stronger character, because it took even more commitment to live your principles. If you ignore the person who needs help and pretend you didn’t see it… that is a lack of character.

We see values without principles, principles without action and a scarcity of character everywhere we turn. We need to encourage and support character in our children, our schools, our workplaces and public institutions and hold them accountable to their actions, not simply the words they tout as values.

If you would like to become a character-led organisation, get in touch. We love to work with organisations and individuals that are looking for long term character development, building processes, principles and opportunities for character development that help the real-world application of values. Share, subscribe and let us know your ideas on character development, we'd love to hear them.

Keep assessing your principles, Keep building character and as always, Just Be Nice.


How do students define 'character'? – Schools of Thought

By CNN Schools of Thought Editors

(CNN) - As we focus on our heroes this Memorial Day, we thought it would be interesting to find out what students think about the concept of “character.”

So, CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz went to our audience of middle and high school students and asked how they define “character.”

Here’s a sampling of what the students had to say on the CNN Student News blog:

Maggie: Character is whatever defines you – how you act, your personality, everything that you do has a lasting effect on your character. However, you have to be careful and make sure you have a good and positive character so you build a good reputation among others as you grow older.

Sara: When I hear the word character, I think of people and the way they act, behave, do etc. Character is a word that basically portrays who we are, not only on the outside, but on the inside, too.

Bryce: I define character as being a role model to others who want to be successful in life.  I think anyone who does not want to be successful in life still needs a character to show them how to live life better.

Santiago: Character can be defined in different ways, there is no right or wrong. Having character means to have courage and be willing to do the right thing at the right time. Character is not only "moral excellence and firmness" because excellence is an illusion. People with character always do their best and never give up. They have no limits and will not stop supporting what they think is right without a fight.

Liam: "Character is what you do when no one is around." – Unknown

Iva: I think of someone having character like a hardware tool box. Everyone has different qualities and strengths that can be used for many purposes. When life gives you a tough situation, use the resources in that tool box.

Nykolas: To me, character is who you are on the inside. It’s not who you pretend to be, or who you become so others will like you. Character is what makes us who we are. It is who we really are and always will be.

Joy: To me, character is how you act when you have to make a difficult decision.

Madison and Drew: Character is something that a person works for and builds. Character is something everyone strives for, but only someone who makes sacrifices will succeed in building their character. Character is what makes a person who they are. Character is what makes humans to be unique and have diversity.

Mr. Sebela's Class: We think of character as showing who someone is through their actions and how they present themselves. Also, character is also based on personal experience in life. Character can also be based on what direction you choose each day and the decisions that you make.

Joshua: Character is what defines you as a person. Our football team has a motto "Ability may get you to the top ,but character is what keeps you there."

Herbert: I think of character as a moral supremacy. It is the epitome of integrity and the want and will to do what is good and right at all times.

Juanito: I love the United States Armed Forces. . . Character is something demonstrated throughout the entire forces. Happy Memorial Day!

Tell us in the comments: How will you spend Memorial Day? How do the kids in your life or classroom define character?

The character we choose - Psychologos

February 01, 2015, 07:19

The film "Girl with character"

The film "Jeri's game" ) - natural for a person features of his behavior, making him situationally easy or difficult for others.

If you are warned: "This is a man of character!", you should be prepared for the fact that you may not be easy with him. Character is the "sharp corners" of a person. nine0003

Strong character - the ability of a person to show his strength: to insist on his position, to defend his point of view, his interests.

"Resisted... Character!" "He's got character!" - means "I have a strong, tough character." "Mild character" is a synonym for "no character". See Strong temperament and Normal temperament

In a broader sense, the word "character" is used as a synonym for the term "psychotype". In this case, the character is called the totality of sustainable ways of behavior and the natural response of a person in a certain situation. nine0021

Accordingly, as character traits, they say that there are people by nature (by their psychotype) calm and nervous, reasonable and impulsive, decisive and doubting, sprinters and stayers - there are countless options.

Character can also be defined as a set of behavioral traits and characteristics that make it possible to predict a person's behavior. All character traits can be divided into three groups - good character traits, problematic character traits and traits that cannot be confidently attributed to either good or problematic ones. It is more accurate to call them - character traits. nine0003

Character traits say something about a person as an organism, not about a person as a person. Character traits reflect how a person acts in a given situation (natural ways of behavior for him), and personality traits reflect what he acts for ( motives and direction of behavior) ↑.

A person can have several characters for different situations. Sometimes this is reflected in the concept of mood: in one mood we have one character, in another mood - another. Any perfect person in different situations behaves either more openly and cheerfully, or more harshly, or more confidently. Another thing is that this often happens instinctively (read the pattern) and is not very conscious. nine0003

The basis of character (character traits) are dynamics, will and habits. Dynamics is a pattern of actions drawn by involuntary situational motivation. How will a person react in an attack situation: will he be confused and cry? Drapanet what is urine? Go towards the offender? Depending on the dynamics that have worked in a person, people will define his character in different ways: "fighter", "coward", "woman" ... Will - the ability to gather strength in order to achieve one's goals. A strong-willed person is a person with character. A weak-willed person and a spineless person are practically synonyms. Habits are patterns of behavior that have developed over time, ossified turns of a living character. "Sow a habit, reap a character." nine0003

Expression of character is a special characteristic. According to the level of manifestation of character traits, characters are divided into average (“normal”, with one or another accentuation of character) and beyond the norm (the character of a Psychopath). Typologies of characters were made by K. Jung, E. Kretschmer, P. B. Gannushkin, K. Leonhard, A. E. Lichko, A. P. Egides and others. See →

What is your character and can it be corrected? Here, at Psychologos, you can take a unique test "What is your character?" in 12 minutes. and get a detailed description of 120 traits of your character. It is curious: the more developed a person is, the more similar he is in his strengths to other developed people. In his character, such features as positive, constructive, responsibility, will and energy are necessarily expressed - and further down the list are all the standard strengths of character. Just like other developed people, he lacks problematic features, and in this sense all developed people are similar to each other. Developed people differ only in features - traits that can not be classified as either strong or problematic. Is competitiveness really a good thing or a bad thing? It depends... nine0003

Where does character come from?

Character is formed (or forged, consciously built) in the process of a person's life from four sources: genetics, upbringing, influence of the environment - and a person's own choice. With regard to genetics and everything that is called innate, the character can indeed have a genetic basis and be inherited. However, it is important to remember that genes determine only a person's propensity for something, and not the predestination of his behavior. Character is not only innate, but also acquired. The most important thing in the formation of character is education, and a person begins to acquire character traits already as a child - but at first unconsciously. Children form their own character, choosing from infancy the means of influencing their parents. Parents shape the character of their children by reinforcing certain behaviors. As a rule - unconsciously reinforcing. At an older age, the acquisition and renewal of character traits can occur both consciously and not. It is useful to consider that character is, first of all, our habits, and then an adult person himself can and should be responsible for his character. nine0021

There is a good phrase: "After thirty years, each person is responsible for his face. " It is true that every adult is responsible even more for his own character. It is a myth that character cannot be changed. Character is not a rigid system, it determines only the inclination to act one way or another. You can correct your character, you can change your character, you can control your character. and sometimes - and just choose your character according to the requirements of a particular situation. nine0021

Let us emphasize that for a strong and developed person, for a person-personality, his character is his choice.

An academic view of character is presented here

Character in practical psychology

How to respond to the request to "correct a difficult character"? Can a counselor help a client correct someone's difficult temper? See →

  • Character
  • Personality
  • Author N.I. Kozlov
  • Personality, society

Comments (7):

janara, March 09, 2015 5:52 pm

Guest, July 19, 2019 10:42

Character test not working.



Sokolova L.V., secretary N.I. Kozlova, July 19, 2019, 12:18

Thank you for the information, the link has been corrected, everything works now!

Guest, May 21, 2020, 13:33

Nikolay Ivanovich, thanks for the article. I liked the idea that we have power over our character. Indeed, it happens that proud, cruel people change for the better, but this requires personal desire and willpower. The book Shapers of Personality wrote, "It seems that any normally developed person needs only to offer some recommendations, and he himself will be able to influence his behavior." This is called self-government. Changing character is like swimming against the current, that is, constant efforts are required. nine0003



Guest, November 30, 2021, 00:55

Can they change?

Guest, November 12, 2021, 08:08 AM

It's a real pity that the test doesn't work. However, it is still worth exploring. The test is interesting in that it is variable and gives rise to creativity at the moment: firstly, you see how many reactions can be to the same situation, and secondly, you find hint reactions that you basically could not have imagined - and this is strong expands the boundaries of vision of options for solving the situation - and therefore, it can, among other things, influence the formation of character in the future, thirdly, you can answer in your own words, and while you are looking for them, you discover new facets of your own personality. A very interesting process. In general, the test is worth taking for the sake of passing and simply expanding the experience. Although, of course, it is a pity that there is no decryption following the results of the passage, the program gives an error. Perhaps if you do not write answers, then there will be no error. Who managed to pass the test and get the results - unsubscribe, please. Are you satisfied with the result, and how did you pass the test to get answers? nine0003

Adele November 03, 2022 10:19 AM

Cool article. You pacified many of my guesses and let me know that everything is in our hands

Materials on the topic:


Is it possible to change one's character, and how

Is it possible to change one's character? You can, but it's not easy for everyone. Since few people seriously set such a task, and no one was taught how to competently work on oneself, then usually there are no results of this activity. As a result, most experts state that the character does not change. In fact this is not true. And sometimes not at all. nine0003

28Read more

Oct 01 2022

Genetic basis of character

Genetic basis of character - do they exist? Yes, there are.

2Read more

Oct 01 2022

Character: lecture by Yu.B. Gippenreiter

As is customary, we must begin with a definition of character. However, this cannot be done without some preliminary remarks. The fact is that “character” is interpreted in psychology far from unambiguously. The difficulties of distinguishing between character and temperament have already been discussed above. Even more controversial issues arise when trying to separate the concepts of "character" and "personality". nine0003

0Read more

Oct 01 2022

Differences between male and female psychology

The difference in male and female psychology is obvious, the mechanisms of these differences and their boundaries are not obvious.

20Read more

What does it mean to have a strong character? And how to develop it?


  • Weaknesses and strengths of character
  • Weak character traits
  • How to develop a strong character

A person's character is formed from birth. It is influenced by various factors, but mainly it is the environment of the child. The way he communicates with peers, parents. He learns by looking at the relationships of other people, draws for himself the significant moments that are deposited in the mind. And in the end it is formed into characteristic features. The formation of a person as a person occurs up to about 18 years. After that, it is unlikely that the character will change if you do not put enough effort into it. nine0003

Weaknesses and strengths of character

It happens that we think about our character. Some traits interfere in life, do not allow to develop, to be realized in life. In such a situation, it is useful to sit down with a notebook and write down the strengths and weaknesses of your character in a column. This technique helps to sort out life's problems and understand the ways to solve them.

Which traits are considered strong and which are weak? Let's figure it out!

Strengths help you move forward with your head held high, despite the circumstances. These include:

Purposefulness. We constantly set goals for ourselves: someone wants to succeed at work (raising the career ladder), another sets financial goals, others dream of losing weight and set the goal of getting the desired number on the scales. But not everyone reaches the end point, they do not have enough moral, and maybe even physical strength to implement their plans. But if there is such a trait in your character, then do not even doubt the success of completing tasks.
Perseverance. To fulfill a desire, dream or goal, sometimes only determination is not enough, it happens that a small amount of perseverance is missing, which helps a person to reach the end, complete the tasks and proudly say that it is time to conquer new heights. nine0003

Willpower. This quality usually manifests itself in situations where there is overcoming oneself. A person quits smoking, loses weight by many kilograms, gets rid of addictions and addictions. Willpower allows you to cope with desires that do not lead to a positive result.
Organization. Sometimes it's hard to organize your own day. Either children distract, then problems at work and at home. Everything interferes in resolving complex issues, disputes. Organization is easy to develop in yourself by making planning for a day or a week at once. Write down in the organizer by the hour what when, what time, how much time it will take to complete each action, and follow the plan strictly. Over time, you will feel that you no longer need to take notes, and you can manage on your own, getting used to the regular daily routine. nine0021 Responsibility. This is one of the important and main features in a person's character. Without a sense of responsibility, it will not be possible to create a harmonious family, get settled and work for a long time in a prestigious and highly paid job. Responsibility should be laid with mother's milk, and the well-known saying “we are responsible for those we have tamed” perfectly explains the need for this quality.
Sociability, sociability. These qualities enable a person to develop, find useful contacts, negotiate, and resolve conflict situations. nine0003

The combination of all these qualities indicates that a person has a strong character. Each of them needs to be developed and improved every day. Self-improvement never hurt anyone. Therefore, if you want to achieve everything that you have in mind, you want to have a reliable rear (family, friends, children), then think about improving yourself.

Weak character traits

Pessimism. Being in a pessimistic mood, a person perceives everything in gray. This prevents him from carrying out plans, hoping for the best, solving problems, and in general, life becomes boring, dull, uninteresting and insipid. It seems that there is no way out of situations, but one has only to change the glasses to pink ones. As soon as the solution is found. Look at the world with a bright look, and then it will seem much more attractive. nine0021 Emotionality. Excessive emotionality interferes with communication between people. This applies not only to family relationships, but also business ones. How often do we scream in the boss's office, forgetting about ethics. In no case should such behavior be allowed, otherwise the leader will hold a grudge against you. Ultimately, you will get a reprimand for any small violation of the work schedule, and there will always be a reason to fire you. Therefore, it is undesirable to show this quality anywhere, even with relatives.

Envy. Envy is a destructive, destructive feeling that negatively affects the psyche and emotional state. We have noticed more than once how we speak negatively about people who have achieved something in life. The woman bought an expensive car, we believe that she got it as a gift. But few people know that she earned it herself, spending years on making her dream come true. A rich man married a simple woman - she is with him only because of money, there is no talk of any love. A happy family - they hide the real behind insincere smiles. And there are many such situations. Envy destroys consciousness, it is like a worm that eats an apple from the inside. nine0021 Extravagance, inability to accumulate. Such people are life-breakers, they don’t know what it means not to have money in their pockets, they spend it on entertainment, drinking, going to clubs, women, etc. This quality is unlikely to help one day build their capital, their own fortress, reliable family. Ultimately, everything can end badly.

Weaknesses make a person vulnerable, unable to withstand negative circumstances, so it is important to develop one's thoughts, skills, and qualities. nine0003

How to develop a strong character

Character is a set of qualities that we acquire in the process of life from a very early age. It does not originate genetically, it is not transmitted from father to son and from mother to daughter. Qualities develop, improve or deteriorate before a person becomes an adult. Of course, this age is relative, for some developed personalities, character manifests itself already at the age of 15-16. Much depends on upbringing, mental development, education.

It takes a lot of work to develop strong character traits. This is the same as getting rid of a bad habit that has eaten deep into the brain. I want to continue doing what I used to do, but I need to do it differently. So is there a clear instruction on how to develop a strong character? nine0021

First, understand what specific qualities you would like to change in yourself in order to become stronger, so that your mind and body work more productively. Write down the pros and cons of your character, what hinders and what helps, analyze some situations in life in which, in your opinion, you did not behave as you would like. This will help to gather information together and draw conclusions.
Why having a strong character is important to you and those around you. First of all, this allows you to achieve all your goals. But if, nevertheless, this did not happen, there was a failure, then you should not despair, you need to continue moving in the right direction. nine0021 Empathize. Having a strong character does not mean that you go over the heads, transgress through anyone who gets in your way. Everything is the opposite. You empathize with the weak, help them achieve their goals, love the people around them. But help disinterestedly, do not expect a response from those whom you have helped.
Naked facts. A strong character means a sober head. Do not start from emotions, experiences, hints and other relative feelings and qualities. Follow the pure facts, analyze, turn concrete actions in your head, not vague assumptions. nine0021 Lead. Do not become either an optimist or a pessimist, be the one who will adapt to the conditions and lead, that is, be a leader.

Appreciate what you have. Do you know the saying "it's good where we are not"? She is unfaithful. Everything you imagine about other people, situations, places is subjective. Appreciate what is present in your life. If something does not suit you, then do not look away, do not envy other people (neighbors, friends, celebrities), but improve, correct situations within yourself, at home, at work, etc.
No cowardice! Take risks, don't be a coward. But the risk must be carefully considered, do not rush into the pool with your head. Without battle, there will be no victories, no gifts that victory should bring.
Do not follow other people's advice. Most likely, in some important issue, you have already subconsciously drawn conclusions for yourself, decided what to do, but still ask for advice from loved ones. Do not be fooled by other people's opinions that are opposed to your own, follow the first answer that popped into your head. nine0003

You don't have to argue, stay with your opinion and silently back off, that's what strong people do.
Do good. There is enough evil, violence, pain in our world. Make it a little better, notice only the best moments that happen around, do, do good yourself, help the weak: the elderly, children, animals. Only a strong-minded person is capable of such deeds.
Control the mind, thoughts, emotions. You don't have to be an advanced yogi to do this, look at each situation from the outside and reconsider your behavior. Excessive emotionality will never be a supporter of a strong person, these are manifestations of the weakest.

Learn more