Elevate Your Happiness by Using Your Strengths

Positive Psychology research has shown that one way to increase uplifted emotions is to do what you are good at. Utilizing your character strengths especially in the service of others has been shown to produce lasting good feelings. Aside from having the “warm and fuzzies”, Barbara Frederickson Ph.D., a leader in the field, has developed the broaden and build theory of positive emotions. She proposes that experiencing better moods broadens our physical, intellectual, and social resources while building our reserves for the difficult times. Optimistic people tend to be healthier, more productive, live longer, and have more energy.

 

Having a lighter heart has many benefits, so what is a character strength and what are yours?

At the onset of the Positive Psychology movement esteemed psychologists and psychiatrists wanted to develop a system to oppose the current classifications of symptoms and mental disease. They wanted to focus on what makes people feel good not just illness and what’s wrong. To do this they identified the 24 character strengths which met the following criteria. First, the strength is valued across nearly all cultures. Second, the strength is valued in its own right, not as a means to other ends. Finally, strengths are moldable and flexible.

 

Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., founder of Positive Psychology, created the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, a tool to measure and rank the 24 strengths. If you want to know where your talents lie, take this survey! The questionnaire orders your strengths, provides a description of each and highlights your top five. You’ll want to reflect on your top strengths to determine which ones really connect with you, make you excited to display, and eager to find ways to include in your life. These are your signature strengths.

 

Gaining awareness of your strengths alone can give you a boost, though temporary. To maintain your elevated state you’ll need to use them regularly, daily if possible. You will have many opportunities – at home, work, in social situations, hobbies… Challenge yourself to select one strength and use it consistently. Track your progress in a journal.

 

A few of the strengths correlate with high life satisfaction: curiosity and interest in the world; capacity to love and be loved; gratitude; hope, optimism, and future-mindedness; and zest, enthusiasm, energy. These may already be your signature strengths, but if not remember you can change your strengths. My strengths have fluctuated over the years.

Reference: Authentic Happiness, Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

 

What are your strengths? Leave a comment below.

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Jessica

Jessica uses an integrative approach to help you overcome chronic pain. She believes in treating the whole person utilizing the biopsychosocial approach to healing. Her offerings include posture therapy, online exercise classes, pain science education, and individual or group wellness coaching. She is certified by the Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI), Egoscue University®, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Wellcoaches.