Even without the help of a global pandemic, human nature pushes us to dwell on the negative. We’re more affected by negative events than by positive ones. Feelings such as anger, fear, shame and resentment stick to us like glue. It’s just the way we’re wired. That fact is that we need negative experiences to warn us and to help us to progress. But the balance can get way out of whack, leaving us riddled with feelings of powerlessness and anxiety.
So, yes, it’s natural for us to ruminate on what’s wrong with us. But we can use our innate resources to counter that tendency. The field of positive psychology teaches that, in order for us to flourish, it’s far more effective to leverage our strengths rather than to focus on trying to correct our weaknesses. In fact, research shows that if we have an active awareness of our character strengths, we are nine times more likely to be flourishing (nine times!!!).
Years of research by the VIA Institute on Character has discovered that we all have 24 central character strengths. These positive parts of our personality are qualities like kindness, curiosity and perseverance. We each have our own distinct combination of these strengths and you can find out yours by taking the VIA survey.
In this week’s episode of Wellness Unwrapped, you’ll hear me chat through why it’s so key that each of us discover and actively apply our unique strengths. We can draw on these strengths at any time and they can help us to cope better with life’s challenges and start to thrive.
It’s really comforting to know that we can draw on these inner resources whenever we need them. Character strengths have been linked with higher emotional resilience, improved coping in the workplace and better managing of stress – and couldn’t we all do with that right now? There’s ample research to show the benefits of character strengths across many industries, particularly in the fields of business and education. People who focus on their strengths also experience better physical health and achieve their goals more successfully. And the benefits go on and on.
During the coronavirus crisis, it’s interesting to note which strengths are coming to the fore. As a society, we’re certainly using the character strengths of prudence and self-regulation by observing social distancing to protect our health and the health of others. And, my goodness, what an outpouring of creativity (another of the 24 strengths) we’ve seen. I’ve been blown away by how people have not only adapted to their new situation but used it as spur to innovate.
You’ll hear me share in this podcast episode how I use my own top strengths…or rather, what they were when I first took the test four years ago. I retook it yesterday and my results have changed a bit over the past few years. I now have gratitude, love, spirituality and zest all tying in first place. Just after those, I have social intelligence and hope on the same score.
The VIA character survey is free and only takes about 10 minutes to complete – so have a go!
Over to you. What are your signature strengths…and how are you using them?