Playing to your strengths

In the words of the positive psychology guru Martin Seligman, the ‘good life is ‘using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification’.  So what does that mean?

Traditionally the world of psychology focused on therapy and fixing psychological disorders, that is until Seligman pioneered the positive psychology movement when he became president of the American Psychological Association.  His thinking was rather than wait until something was ‘wrong’, what would happen if we focused on our individual signature strengths we naturally have?  By focusing on what’s ‘right’ with us (i.e., our strengths), can we improve happiness, become more resilient, reduce stress and increase performance?

Research has proven the answer to these questions is a resounding yes.  Great news I’m sure lots of you are thinking, probably followed by wondering how you find out what your strengths are.  Well, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you identify your strengths, which I’ve included at the end of this post.

A few questions which can help to get you started in identifying your personal strengths are:

-What are you naturally good at?

-What activities do you take part in that make time pass so quickly you hardly notice?

-What activities create joy, enthusiasm and excitement for you?

These questions will help you to start thinking about your strengths, and I recommend taking one of the strengths questionnaires included in the resource section below.  Once you have identified your strengths, the next step is to plan how to include more of them in your daily activities, whether that be at work or in your personal life.

The beauty of highlighting your strengths is these are activities we are naturally good at (talents some would say), so they often take less energy and are more satisfying than alternative activities.  Concentrating on these activities also helps reduce stress, increase resilience and increase overall happiness.

In the words of Tom Rath, ‘every human has talents that are just waiting to be uncovered’.  I hope you enjoy discovering yours.

Resources:

 VIA Character Strength Survey

 Gallup Strengths Finder

 Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment, Martin E. P. Selihman, Ph.D 

 Strengthsfinder 2.0, Tom Rath

Productivity tips - reclaim your dayGratitude and happiness