Mary is a thirty-five-year-old, working part-time as a department store clerk and an aspiring writer. Having grown up in a large family, she often felt overlooked by her brothers and parents. She is now married with a two-year-old boy. Mary is interested in getting to know herself better. She likes taking tests online, reading popular books and magazines, and surfing websites and blogs that offer strategies on parenting, health, pottery, and tai chi. She had been experiencing writer’s block for the last year, only able to put out an occasional short blog article but nothing substantive. She did not feel much meaning in her work at the department store, but she enjoyed the steady paycheck. What was particularly bothersome to Mary was the rising tensions she was feeling of parenting a young child. Her son’s colic was followed by frequent ear infections, then a medical scare that turned out to be a minor heart defect. The stress had taken a toll on her relationship with her husband, and if it weren’t for their child, she figured their short periods of separation for two to three days might have turned into a divorce. Mary was seeking more in her professional life, so she submitted a few job applications and starting prepping for interviews. She was having coffee with a friend one day who said to her, “They’ll ask about your strengths, Mary. What are they?” Normally, Mary had a lot to say about a lot of topics, but to this question, she went blank. She looked away, feeling a bit of uneasiness in her stomach. This was a standard question asked at interviews, but Mary didn’t know how to respond. To say, “I’m good at writing” or “I like to create bowls using clay” sounded positive, but like statements that didn’t do justice to the question. Mary knew there was a better way to describe her best qualities, but she felt unsure of herself. It turns out that Mary’s highest character strengths are curiosity, kindness, gratitude, and judgment. Can this be true? she wondered as she reviewed the results of the survey she’d just taken. Well, those do seem pretty accurate. I am always exploring new topics online, and I do go out of my way to help people. I’m a good critical thinker, and I always seem to be grateful for even the little things in life.For Mary, it felt like she was going from black and white to color. A veil had been lifted, and she was seeing herself with greater clarity—more vividly. She began to apply her strengths to the areas of her life that were stressful, curiously exploring how to be kinder to shoppers at the department store and also to her husband and son. She began writing down all the moments she felt thankful for to emphasize them. As a result of embracing her strengths, her stress began to morph into greater positivity and feelings of well-being. Moving in the Direction of Strengths Mary, like all of us, has her own unique profile of character strengths. The VIA Classification of character strengths is a way of making that uniqueness more concrete and apparent. It’s a description, not a prescription. In other words, it describes core parts of a person’s character, or personality, but it does not prescribe precisely what that person needs to do with them in their life. Mary is particularly strong in gratitude and kindness, while other people are especially humble and creative or brave and hopeful. In fact, given the 24 character strengths that make up a person’s individualized profile, there are over 600 sextillion possible combinations (that’s 23 zeroes after the number 6!). No two people are the same. Not only that, but each person has a different way of expressing each strength. Love might be expressed through thoughtful acts, compassionate listening, well-spent time with someone, affirming words, or nurturing touch. Humor might be expressed through jokes, laughter and smiling, clever wit, goofy behavior, or comic storytelling. We all have a different way of experiencing and expressing our character strengths. This chapter will focus on awareness and use of your strengths. To cultivate awareness, you’ll assess and explore several categories of strengths that reside within you, then you’ll assess and explore how you use them—that is, whether you are bringing your strengths into as much action in your life as you could be. All 24 Strengths Matter A decade ago, I was giving an extended workshop on character strengths and speaking with the group about how all 24 of them were important. One of the attendees raised her hand. When I called on her, she stood up and exclaimed with excitement, “These strengths are like Starbucks coffee sizes.” “How so?” I asked with genuine curiosity.“Well, Starbucks only serves large sizes—Tall, Grande, and Venti. And that’s the way our character strengths are. They are all big and important in our lives!” “That’s true,” I said with a laugh. Then, building off her metaphor, “Our signature strengths are the biggest of all—the Ventis. Our middle strengths are the Grandes. And our lesser strengths are the Talls—still big and important.” This woman’s insight was, of course, correct. She had quickly caught on to the reality that, in our daily life, there is no small or unimportant strength among this group of 24. These strengths are all “large” in our lives, our relationships, our health, our goals, and our future potential. While research studies show that perseverance is a particularly important strength for achieving goals, it might be that you tap into your “Venti strengths” of creativity and love of learning to come up with interesting goals and carry them out. And research may point out that gratitude is an important strength for creating life meaning, but you might find the greatest meaning through your Venti strengths of expressing kindness and fairness to others. Therefore, it becomes particularly important for each of us to understand our own unique profile of strengths. What are your Ventis, Grandes, and Talls? Understanding Your Strengths Profile The first step is to figure out your own character strengths profile—your full rank order of character strengths from 1 to 24. You can generate your profile at http://www.viacharacter .org/www, where over seven million people have taken the VIA Survey. The survey is free and you’ll receive immediate rank-order results. In fact, there’s nothing else like it out there. It is the gold-standard test that scientists and practitioners recommend for assessing character strengths. After you review your results, you’ll have the option to purchase a personalized report, but that is not required for this workbook. At this point, simply print out your results and keep them handy as you engage with this chapter (and with the rest of this book). When you look at your profile, you’ll immediately see those strengths that come up highest, lowest, and in the middle of your profile. To understand your character strengths profile, it is useful to understand the various types of character strengths that you have. Here’s a snapshot of the types we’ll be exploring, along with some examples of each, so you can see where we are heading. This chapter will focus on the first four types, as those have the strongest conceptual or research support (Niemiec 2018).Type of Character Strength Definition Example Signature strengths Your highest strengths; these are most central to who you are and best capture your uniqueness. They show up across many situations and are most energizing and easiest for you to use. Carol turned to her highest strength of perseverance to pull an all-nighter and finish her work project before the meeting. Happiness strengths Strengths that have the strongest connection to happiness, according to different research groups around the world. These are zest, hope, love, gratitude, and curiosity. Rick felt stressed and overwhelmed by a challenging day at work but quickly turned to his strength of gratitude to see the positive in his situation and feel grateful that he has a good job and that he can meaningfully contribute to others’ lives. This gave him a happiness boost for the rest of the evening. Lower strengths These are your lowest strengths of the 24, likely those you have not put much effort into deeply understanding or developing. Despite prudence being her lowest strength, Maggie applied it to carefully plan out a schedule for her daughter’s birthday party. She turned a stressful situation into a fun and successful event. Phasic strengths These are situational strengths you bring forth strongly when the situation demands it. As tension mounted during a conversation that turned “political” at a family gathering, Daryl used kindness to compassionately listen to others’ viewpoints and make thoughtful remarks to each person before he changed the subject. Supportive strengths Strengths that aren’t especially high or low for you; they may support or enhance your other strengths. At the team meeting, Rosita’s midlevel strength of zest emerged as she exerted energy and enthusiasm that helped her maintain her signature strength of leadership.
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

    Related Posts

    Post a Comment