How do you turn a day from ordinary into extraordinary, or transform a perfectly acceptable situation into a memorable occasion? The key to infusing your life with more transformative moments, bringing in greater levels of unadulterated delight, and experiencing pure bliss is as simple as infusing more of yourself into the day.
We all have unique characteristics and talents that make us shine in a particular way. Our character strengths are those core traits that feel so natural, and while effortless, they simultaneously energize us. These strengths give us abilities to operate through life in a way that no one else can. When we use our strengths, we can have more fun, and our actions tend to attract the type of positive response from people we enjoy the most and therefore want to be around.
Just by being ourself, we can enjoy life the way it was intended. Why wouldn’t we want to tap into that?
Perhaps talking about “strengths, talents, characteristics and abilities” makes you automatically fade out. It could be that while you have a sense of your strengths you aren’t quite able to delineate them clearly.
It does help to have a crisp understanding of what your strengths are in order to confidently use them. When we know our strengths, we can tap into them to affirm us back to our brightest version if we’re fading.
There are several ways to figure out your strengths if you need a little help ~
1. Take a formal assessment test
The Gallup StrengthsFinder is very popular and well-known. While it is fee-based, the cost isn’t extreme and the results are comprehensive and applicable to all areas of life. A free assessment test is available through VIA, a professional organizational used widely as an option to StrengthsFinder.
2. Write a list of what you know and figure it out
This method can be just as accurate as an assessment test, if you take the necessary time and are honest.
Ask yourself (make a list) :
- What do you love to do?
- What do you do that no-one else can?
- What do you do that is effortless and automatic for you?
- What do others compliment you for?
Remember, you are addressing your character strengths, not your technical abilities. While the fact that you can whip up a fabulous meal from no visible ingredients is impressive, the character strengths behind the act are creativity, resourcefulness, and perhaps some other trait specific to you.
The answer to these reflections is a good start to knowing your strengths. You will know they are right if just looking at the list makes you feel confident.
But if you still feel unresolved and have a sense that you haven’t quite captured your answer, think about what you would most like to accomplish and what you know you could do. Depending on your thoughts and feelings, this area could reveal untapped strengths just waiting for you to develop!
Now that you know your strengths and are feeling good about them, use them — all the time! Being yourself through using your strengths is the key to happiness! Research confirms that people who use their strengths:
- create more personally meaningful goals and make better progress
- experience a greater overall well-being
- are more satisfied and find more meaning in both life and work
- feel a greater sense of gratitude
- maintain stronger social support
- enjoy ample levels of confidence, self-esteem, and vitality
- are generally happier and exude a more positive outlook
Now, develop those powers — flex your strengths daily
You probably have a long list of your strengths. If you took one of the formal assessments you have at least 24. Narrow the list down to the top 5 core traits you want to focus on right now. Choose ones that energize you, make you happy just thinking about, and other people easily attribute to you.
Now, select one. Ask:
- How am I currently using this strength?
- In what other ways could I use it?
- In what areas of my life do I use it now?
- What other areas of my life could I use it?
Every day, commit to this one strength you’ve chosen and apply a question to it. Repeat daily throughout the week. Next week, choose another strength, and keep repeating this pattern. When you use one of your strengths in a new way, it results in increased happiness, and even has the ability to decrease active depression, so in order to get full benefit from your effort, it is important that you not only be yourself, but stretch a bit further than you currently are.
For example, if humor is one of your strengths, you already know the power in humor is that it has the ability to forge connections between people and situations. How can you use humor in ways that you aren’t currently, and in areas that you aren’t already?
Using your strengths is about focus. By emphasizing your inherent abilities, you are able to tap into deeper levels of capability and performance.
- If you typically turn your humor outward, consider making yourself laugh by watching some funny movies.
- Clip comics. Send them to people you might think will find them funny.
- Find the fun and lighter side of every dark situation.
- If you currently forward chain emails, craft a funny message yourself and send it instead.
- Play — with a child, a pet, or a friend. Do an activity that makes you giggle.
- Insert a comment that brings a smile to someone else during the day.
- ….your turn….
And as you develop your strengths and flex your super powers, you may observe others exhibiting theirs. When we each express our strongest selves we have the ability to more easily support each other because we operate from a position of confidence and competence. And that’s pretty powerful!