Who do you want to be?

This can be a loaded question, but certainly worthy of reflection. On Character Day, an annual and global initiative, to be held Wednesday, September 13, you will have the opportunity to ponder this question. Illinois State’s Student Wellness Ambassador Team (SWAT) will be kicking off the day with a talk by Philosophy Professor Daniel Breyer, Ph.D., followed by some face-to-face conversation time at the Ball Pit on Schroeder Hall Plaza with a special guest. By the end of the day, you just might figure out who you want to be, or at least, start the conversation with yourself and others.

What is Character Day?

Character Day was originally created in 2014 by Tiffany Shlain, a co-founder of Let it Ripple, to launch a global premiere of the short film The Science of Character, exploring character development through the lenses of social science and neuroscience. As a result, Character Day was produced inviting schools and organizations around the world to premiere the film and start the conversations around character development. There were 1,500 events in 31 countries that took place. The Science of Character was also selected to be part of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs American Film Program. Ultimately, Character Day provides an opportunity to explore your own character, who you might like to be, and how you can develop those character strengths.

What types of character strengths are we talking about?

Let it Ripple portrays the following character strength categories and the character strengths each category may represent:

  • Wisdom: creativity, curiosity, love of learning, perspective
  • Courage: bravery, perseverance, honesty, enthusiasm
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  • Justice: social responsibility, teamwork, fairness, leadership
  • Temperance: forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-control
  • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty, gratitude, optimism, humor, spirituality

Why are we focusing on character?

Character is a piece of personal well-being, as well as extending out to the well-being of others in our society. Your life is impacted in a significantly positive way when you can identify your character traits that serve as strengths for you. Your strengths can impact how you think, feel, perform, and behave and are foundational pillars in supporting your best self. Benefits include character strengths serving as

  • A buffer to manage and overcome problems
  • Academic achievement and professional success
  • Enhance overall health and well-being
  • Improve relationships
  • Community and societal benefits

Taking time to explore and strengthen your character can be transforming.  Yes, that does means escaping from our world of distractions to invest in yourself. Think about this: When you are investing in your own character, you can also begin to appreciate and confirm the strengths of other people around you, which has the capacity to carry on further, ultimately to society at large. Each of us makes a difference. Imagine a world that has a little more perspective, forgiveness, honesty, humor, gratitude, optimism, social intelligence, because you made a choice to invest in your character. Now that’s a legacy you can be proud of!

How can you get involved on Character Day?

Show up, take part, and have fun! It’s that simple. Below are some dates, times, and resources to get you on your way.

  • Get to Professor Daniel Breyer’s talk on “What Humor Tells Us About Character,” 10–11 a.m., 3E Lounge, Bone Student Center
  • Visit Schroeder Hall Plaza from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Jump in the Ball Pit and have a character conversation, 11 a.m.–1 p.m., Schroeder Hall Plaza. We have a special guest who will be carrying on some of these conversations.
  • Take a photo with your favorite character in our photo booth.
  • Join the Character Challenge and share with others.
  • Visit our Facebook page to keep updated.
  • Visit Let It Ripple.
  • Visit Values In Action Institute on Character and take a free character survey.
  • Check out The Science of Character  short film.
  • Check out a live Ball Pit in action.

While this event is one day, it can also serve as a catalyst in starting many conversations, resulting in becoming a Character Conversation Campus. Join the event and join the conversation! SWAT looks forward to seeing you there!