Everyone has personal strengths

Personal strengths are very different from innate talents.  For example, if you are not born with the innate talent of a photographic memory no amount of practice and effort will give you better than a close approximation.  As wonderful as having innate talents are, however, they do not totally define you.  You can be a spectacular singer of good character who is grateful for your gifts or a spectacular singer who is bitter that you have not achieved greater fame and fortune.  In contrast to innate talents, strengths are moral aspects of our personality that we can choose to continually build upon in order to experience a range of positive emotions as well as increased meaningfulness in our lives.   Strengths are valued in their own right.  For example, someone who possesses a love of learning may indirectly receives good outcomes as a result of this strength, but the love of learning itself is valued regardless of what it will be used for.  Building upon our strengths in various capacities can deepen our social and romantic relationships and help us find greater enjoyment in our work and leisure activities.

Examples of personal strengths include open-mindedness, flexibility, fairness, valor, originality and more.  Although these aspects of ourselves can be somewhat inherent to an extent, they can be greatly expanded and strengthened through our experiences.  We may be open-minded towards other’s ideas but we can make a conscious decision to support others’ suggestions even if they differ from our own.  Discovering which personal strengths you possess and using them often will enhance your happiness.

Exercise #1:  Go to Dr. Martin Seligman’s website:www.authentichappiness.org and take the VIA Strengths Survey.  The VIA Strengths Survey is the only scientifically validated tool to assess character strengths.  You can either take the brief (5 minutes)  or comprehensive survey (25 minutes) which will provide you with detailed feedback about your biggest strengths and how you compare to thousands of others who have completed the survey

Exercise #2:  Reflect upon your top strengths.  Do any of them surprise you?  Think about a positive occasion where you used one of your identified strengths?   What were your behaviors, thoughts and feelings?