Have you unearthed your character strengths?
If so, do you remember what they are? Do you recall they are your cornerstone foundations to live “The Good Life”? The values that energize you to live your authentic best self life. Your well-being life vest, too, when the negativity waves come crashing down upon you. Imagine your life vest has all your strengths embroidered with neon colors. Fun!
If you are like many folks who love positive psychology, most likely you have taken the complimentary Values in Action Survey at viacharacter.org. If so, you know your 24 research-based strengths. Great! Maybe you have even memorized your top 5 that fire up your values every day. I keep my strengths list on my desk to remind me. They are my meal ticket reminder to savor life. I also turn to them when times get tough. I pull out one or two strengths, like bravery or humor, to help me re-frame. They rescue me from my muddy trenches.
I feel lucky my top five strengths are: Appreciation of beauty and excellence, capacity to love and be loved, curiosity, gratitude, and forgiveness. I notice them many times a day. Why? Because they add whipped cream and a cherry (no calories!) to my horizons and engender smiles upon my face. Anyone who knows me and enjoys my garden photos sees, and I hope, shares my joy. When those darling blossoms bow in my direction, I smile, savor them and smile in gratitude.
What I love about strengths is they add radiant color and mindful wisdom to my life. They remind me what is important. They add vigorous happiness and overall well-being to each day. They bring out the best in me (on a good day!). When times are tough and I screw up, and my inner critic is like a pesky rabbit eating my lovely flowers, I mindfully turn to strengths for inspiration. They are a reminder I have the ability to re-frame the story I am telling myself about my negativity. That’s not always easy. But those strengths are the pillars of my life. Negativity is normal, but it is not how I want to show up. It takes effort to accept my crap then to let it go. Strengths are like a cooling fan when life gets too hot to handle.
How about you?
Maybe you are a bit fuzzy on your strengths even if you know them. Or maybe some of them are lost in a fog and you would appreciate more blue sky clarity. Strengths may be hidden. They are like fireflies. They may shine brightly, but if you are not looking for them, you may miss the light they shine upon you.
Treat yourself to more ease and wholeness via mindful attention to your strengths. Why? “When people are aware of their own character strengths, they use them more intentionally for their own benefit and for the benefit of the people around them.” Polly and Britton, Character Strengths Matter.
Even if you value and use your 24 strengths, perhaps there are others you use, but like hidden treasure, you have not discovered them.
Below are 15 powerful questions to help you unearth more of your strengths. After you read each one, pause a moment and answer the five helpful query questions below. See if you can get more than one answer. If you write down your answers, research reveals you will more easily remember your learning. A great book relevant to journaling is, Write It Down and Make It Happen, Henriette Klauser.
If nothing emerges for you, harness your grit!
While answering the 15 questions, ask yourself these query questions:
- What am I overlooking?
- How might I accomplish this?
- What talents do I need to develop to do this?
- What skills do I need to learn to do this?
- What else do I need to do or be to enjoy this?
15 Powerful Questions to Uncover Your Strengths
Please list three answers for each question. Take your time. Let your creative juices flow. You might need or want more than one day while your brain peculates. Enjoy your eye-opening journey.
1. When you were in school, what were your favorite subjects?
2. If you had three wishes, what would you yearn to DO?
3. If you had three wishes, what would you like to BE?
4. What are you most proud of? Why?
5. What jobs, activities, or challenges bring vitality to you?
6. What do you enjoy doing the most?
7. What are your top talents, those that seem natural to you?
8. What are your best learned skills?
9. What do you appreciate about yourself?
10. When someone praises you, what do you get complimented on the most? (Don’t be shy!)
11. When you are challenged, what do you call upon within yourself to help you succeed?
12. What have been your favorite life experiences? Why were these occasions important? What did you learn?
13. What ignites your passion and gets you into flow, that state whereby you are so engaged time stands still while you work/play?
14. When you travel, even on a short trip, what do you notice yourself enjoying?
15. How are you unique compared to other people you know? Feel free to ask several friends and family to see what they notice about you.
This is great fun and often a fascinating eyebrow-raiser.
After you answer these enlightening inquiry questions, your cool strengths discovery process emerges.
You notice you:
- Find the “uniquely you” pieces of your life puzzle.
- Give them a good bird’s eye view. Then get up close and personal!
- Begin your interesting mind, body, soul interpretations.
- Curiously notice value themes, designs, and patterns. (Hint: Values might be freedom, health, integrity, approval, achievement, security, belonging, competence, contribution, peace, adventure, etc, in addition to your 24 strengths.). Play with these ideas.
- Ask yourself, “What really piqued and revved up my interest? What treated me to an aha! moment?”
These steps bless you with a map to discover your priceless treasure chest of strengths. They are gems you may not have known you possessed. Your well-being, wholeness and living a fully charged life may depend upon these gifts you discover for yourself. They fulfill your potential for success, happiness, and mindful savoring all aspects of your fascinating, uniquely-you self.