Using Your Strengths

How do you see yourself? It may be hard to get a realistic picture of yourself, but you do have a choice in how you see yourself. You can choose to focus on your weakness or you can choose to focus on your strengths. When you choose to emphasize your best self, you open the door to happiness – success at work, deep connections, meaningful activities, healthy habits.

It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong and what you don’t like about yourself. One of the great things about my social work training was the emphasis placed on using a strengths perspective. Instead of focusing on deficits and pathology, the Strengths Perspective recognizes that not only do we all have strengths, but by utilizing our strengths, abilities, and resources we can overcome problems and reach our goals.

You cannot succeed when you’re focused on your short-comings and berating yourself for mistakes.

Positive Psychology has also researched the connection between using our strengths and happiness. Positive Psychology is a newer branch of psychology that studies happiness. Martin Seligman, considered the founder of Positive Psychology, defines it as “the scientific study of the strengths that allow individuals and communities to thrive”. Focusing on your strengths is empowering and motivating.

You will only find happiness and success, when you identify and use your strengths. We all have strengths. No matter your current challenges or what you’ve done in the past, you have some amazing qualities. Your strengths may be an untapped well of potential.

 

Identifying your strengths

  • Creative
  • Perseverance
  • Patient
  • Confident
  • Kind
  • Energetic
  • Focused
  • Gracious
  • Sense of Humor
  • Spiritual
  • Team-Player
  • Independent
  • Playful
  • Hard Working
  • Honest
  • Open Minded
  • Organized
  • Disciplined
  • Loyal
  • Generous
  • Responsible
  • Thoughtful
  • Adaptable
  • Consistent
  • Spontaneous
  • Positive
  • Authentic
  • Life-long Learner
  • Hopeful

Ask yourself:

  • What strengths have contributed to my successes?
  • What activities or roles do I enjoy?
  • What activities or roles do I feel successful at?
  • What positive feedback have you gotten from teachers, supervisors, customers, etc?

If you’re still not sure what strengths you possess, ask some close friends or colleagues. Sometimes others see things that you don’t recognize in yourself.

 

Using your strengths

Identifying your strengths is just the beginning. You have to use them to their fullest. When you use your strengths, you usually feel fulfilled. We tend to like to do things that we’re good at.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I use one of my strengths today?
  • How can I use one of my strengths in a new way?
  • How can I use one of my strengths to help someone else?
  • How can I use my strengths at work? At home? In my personal relationships?
  • How can my strengths point me toward meaningful activities?
  • How can my strengths help me achieve my goals?
  • How can I use one of my strengths to strengthen my relationships?

I’m not suggesting that you ignore your weaknesses. In fact, knowing your weaknesses is essential if you are going to improve upon them. You just need to be very mindful that your weaknesses don’t become your focus and don’t become your identity.

Additional reading and references:

VIA Institute on Character

The Pursuit of Happiness

Authentic Happiness

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