Ethics & Virtues

Our beliefs about love and how we live out love through values, views of right and wrong, and priorities.   

Healthy spirituality involves putting beliefs into practice.

We often think of spirituality as connecting to God or our source of transcendence through our thoughts and emotions, but spirituality is truly lived out in our day to day. Essential to spiritual health and thriving is a life of integrity. Although no one is perfect, the more aligned our actions are to our values, ethics, and beliefs, the more well-being and satisfaction we experience as we contribute to others. Ethics are defined as beliefs that inform and guide how we treat others and act as a kind of moral compass. Virtues are related, and involve patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that become habits and these habits enable us to respond morally in different situations to pursue purpose beyond ourselves. We think of virtues such as courage and patience as being rooted in our beliefs, but we often don't think of love as a virtue, yet offering it is perhaps the most virtuous thing we can do. When we cultivate virtues that enable us to do what is right, loving, and good across the changing complexities of life, we can joyfully contribute to our world.

A curated content list

Discover more about ethics and virtues

The Power of Patience: How to Wait Well, Persevere Through Suffering, and Navigate a Fast-Paced World with Dr. Sarah Schnitker

What are you willing to wait for? What are you willing to suffer for? Research psychologist Sarah Schnitker (Baylor University) has done groundbreaking work in the science of patience. By exploring the ways to become more patient with others and ourselves—and discovering the role of this timeless virtue in a flourishing life—she offers us a freeing and stabilizing approach to thinking about goals, perseverance, and navigating our fast-paced world.

Conversing About Patience

The Thrive Center for Human Development and FULLER Studio present Patience, a five-video series that will change the way you think about patience. Psychologists, Benjamin Houltberg and Sarah Schnitker lead a table discussion with Rabbi Sherre Hirsh, Tasneem Noor, and Harlan Redmond to share their thoughts on the meaning of patience within different cultural contexts, faith traditions, and individuals.     Working with Faith Traditions How do different faith traditions think about the practice of patience? Our moderators join Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, Tasneem Noor, and Harlan Redmond to reflect on the role of patience within their own faith, the patience of God, and wisdom from the Quran.     Each Other Can patience positively transform our relationships with others? Our thought leaders examine how patience can lead to better relationships through listening and understanding each other’s stories.     Self-Care Our panel of experts continue their discussion on…

The Practice of the Rule of Life

If there are ways we would like to more fully live into certain virtues, one way to do so is by using the Rule of Life to help us establish new automatic life rhythms.

Overcoming the Sunday Scaries

Learning how what you value shapes your week.

Adolescents and Spirituality: Do Mountaintop Spiritual Experiences Really Make a Difference?

A Thrive Scholars Fellow shares transcendent experiences along with caring adults can stimulate spirituality and virtue development in youth.

The Balm of Being Loved and Held

How does love contributing to thriving? The practice of the 5 B's of love is explained here.

Deep Fulfillment Through the Practice of Joy

Joy is more than an emotion. Rebecca Baer reflects on true joy as being rooted in love, sharing a mindfulness practice.

Cultivating Our Capacity for Joy

How can we cultivate our joy “muscles?” Pamela Ebstyne King, executive director at the Thrive Center, speaks on what is required for our joy training and the benefits of joy at the 2018 Future of Joy Conference, hosted by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Author’s Note This talk was given at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.

Gratitude and Thriving

Summary In response to professor of psychology at University of California, Davis, Robert Emmons on gratitude to God, Pamela Ebstyne King explains how gratitude can both guide us and propel us toward thriving and the good life.   Author’s Note This talk was given at the 2022 Integration Symposium and was originally published on FULLER Studio.

People holding hands

Moral Elevation (Part 2): Practices for Elevating Ourselves and Our World

Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr. Susan Mangan provides research-based activities to help us experience the positive emotion of elevation.

Person jumping over the hill

Moral Elevation (Part 1): The Snowball Effect of Small Inspirations

Dr. Susan Mangan explains the role and benefits of moral elevation in inspiring us to help our communities.

The Wows and Woes of Graduation: Traversing Transition with Hope

Dr. Pamela King reflects on her hopes for her son as he graduates high school and her new role as a partner in this next phase of their lives.

Empowering Youth to Thrive With, Through, and By Faith

Dr. Meredith Hope discusses the role of religion in youth thriving and ways caring adults can help enable spirituality in adolescence.

Mother and daughter painting a cactus

The Real Reason Your Teen is Impatient (and How You Can Help)

Leanne Bishara shares 4 research-backed ways parents and teens can face difficulties with patience.

Aspire to Inspire: Learning the Mamba Mentality for Every Day Greatness

Dr. Stephanie Trudeau breaks down the Mamba Mentality framework and offers tips for how to integrate it into our own lives.


The Anchoring Power of Joy for Teens

How can caring adults equip youth for a journey of long-lasting joy? Pamela King highlights the 3 essentials needed.

Anchored in Hope

Summary Pamela Ebstyne King responds to Cameron Lee, Professor of Marriage and Family Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, on hope and humility as clinical virtues, reflecting on telos, hope as an orientation, and the importance of having an eschatological anchor in a fragmented society.   Author’s Note This talk was given at the 2018 Integration Symposium and was originally published on FULLER Studio.  …

Joy vs Happiness

Summary Executive director of the Thrive Center, Pamela Ebstyne King explains the key differences between happiness and joy, pointing to purpose as the key to discovering true joy in this interview. Author’s Note This interview was originally published on Yale Youth Ministry Institute.   About the Author Pamela Ebstyne King Pamela Ebstyne King is the executive director of the Thrive Center and serves as the Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her primary academic interests are applied research at the intersection of human thriving and spiritual development. Dr. King’s work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable all people to thrive.  …

21 Content Resources

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Discover more about Thrive's research

The Joyride Project

This project seeks to integrate the theological and psychological perspectives of joy and flourishing.

Religion as Fertile Ground

Abstract An extensive body of research points toward spirituality and religiousness as resources for promoting human thriving. People with strong connections to the transcendent and religious meaning in life often view morals and values as central to their self-concepts. Although moral identity theory and contemporary views of virtue development emphasize the importance of narrative identity for habituated moral action, the two are often discussed in isolation of each other. In this chapter, the authors highlight how their commonality is particularly evident when examining the potential of religion to provide a transcendent self-narrative that leads to virtue formation and moral action within social contexts. This chapter describes how young people integrate religion and morality in their own lives, and it provides a broad overview of research linking religion to moral and virtue development through an ideological, social, and transcendent context.

Shades of Gratitude

Our team seeks to test and develop a theoretical framework to help guide future research on gratitude.

Shades of Gratitude: Exploring Varieties of Transcendent Beliefs and Experience

Author: Pamela Ebstyne King, Rebecca Ann Baer, Sean A.Noe, Stephanie Trudeau, Susan A.Mangan, Shannon Rose Constable Abstract: The study of gratitude has expanded beyond interpersonal gratitude and considers how people respond to gifts that are not caused by human agency. Given the discord between the prominent understanding of gratitude requiring the appropriate recognition of a gift to a giver and the increasing divergence of transcendent belief systems that do not acknowledge a transcendent or cosmic giver, we explored how people with different worldviews viewed and experienced gratitude. Transcendence does not hinge on metaphysical beliefs, but it can be experienced phenomenologically and subjectively. We conducted a case-study narrative analysis (N = 6) that represents participants from three different categories of belief systems: theistic, non-theistic but spiritual, and other. Our findings demonstrate how people link their transcendent narrative identity to their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors pertaining to gratitude. Although the theistic participants…

The Good Physician Project

Longitudinal study by Sarah Schnitker to explore spirituality and virtue formation in physicians. An Exploration of the Role of Religion and Spirituality on Virtue Formation in Physicians.

Love Thy Neighbor Project

Sarah Schnitker examines the connection between intercessory prayer and generosity with student researchers. Examining the Effects of Moral Intuitions and Intercessory Prayer on Generous Behavior.

Virtue Interventions in Adolescent Athletes

Sarah Schnitker and Ben Houltberg examine the contexts in which teen athletes develop character strengths.

The Science of Intellectual Humility

Thrive scholars measure 3 dimensions of intellectual humility for human thriving.

Goal Sanctification & Prayer on Virtues

Sarah Schnitker and student researchers study the impact of goal sanctification on gratitude, generosity, and thrift.

Spiritual Strivings, Goal Satisfaction, Virtue, and Well-Being

Does goal satisfaction increase goal achievement? Sarah Schnitker examines personality dynamics.

10 Content Resources

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The Practice of the Rule of Life

If there are ways we would like to more fully live into certain virtues, one way to do so is by using the Rule of Life to help us establish new automatic life rhythms.

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Vocation & Purpose

Identity & Narrative

Relationships & Community

Habits & Rhythms

Transcendence & Spirituality

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