Quick quiz! What are your partner’s top character strengths? Ummmmm………. You might spot them by asking yourself what activities come easily to them. What do they love doing? What do you NEVER have to nag them to do? Could you answer the same questions about yourself, or about your best friend?
Our character strengths are traits central to who we are which we draw upon to help ourselves and others, and probably have done so since we were kids. Our strengths give us an energetic buzz when we use them and they tend to be characteristics in ourselves that we are naturally drawn to and prioritise for use. I have a friend who definitely has creativity as a strength – she often surprises me with the solutions to problems she comes up with and she loves new experiences. I also really appreciate the woman in my 6am gym class who I think has humour as a strength. Many a time her ability to make us all laugh gets me through another ten push-ups!
It’s easy to notice and dwell upon the stuff that annoys or disappoints us in ourselves and those close to us but getting into the habit of looking for strengths can both give us an injection of positive emotions and help us to feel more engaged in our day. This is because strengths are important to our sense of personal integrity. When we use our strengths, it feels natural, we’re not plagued by self-doubt, and instead feel authentic. We can pass this inner authenticity on to others as well; when we compliment someone on a use of a key strength, that compliment is likely to mean a lot to the person, and be easy for them to accept with pleasure!
Last week Flourishing Mothers thoroughly enjoyed being part of the first Mother Conference held in Chatswood. A bonus of being there was that before and after our own presentation we were able to watch the other speakers and enjoyed seeing how their character strengths were jumping out at us. For example we suspect that Cathie Knox of the Gidget Foundation would have humility and also love, as key character strengths, while Jessica Rowe struck us as embodying both bravery and appreciation of beauty. Zest and vitality seemed strong in the exercise consultants who presented and I’d be willing to bet that Claire, who organised the event, has both hope and perseverance as strengths.
Positive Psychology studies and encourages us to use our strengths as a valuable way to achieve goals and enhance our wellbeing. If this sounds interesting we encourage you to take the free strengths survey developed by the VIA Institute. http://www.viacharacter.org/www/The-Survey If you’d like to know more about understanding your own strengths or strength spotting please let us know.
Bye for now,
Inspired by the work of Alex Linley, Sue Langley and the VIA Institute on Character