Signature Strengths: Your Best Self

    Let’s start with arguably the most important category: the top strengths in your profile. These are the strengths that relate most to who you are as a person. Just as your handwritten signature on a piece of paper is unique to you, so are your signature strengths. Most people have around five signature strengths, although that does not necessarily apply to everyone. Some have more, some have less. A good way to describe signature strengths is that they are very likely to involve the “three E’s” (Niemiec 2018): • Essential: The strengths are core to who you are. For example, Monica describes her spirituality as being “central to me. It’s at the core of who I am and how I operate in the world. I try to be a reflection of my beliefs and faith.” • Energizing: The strengths are uplifting and give you a boost of energy or joy. J. P. points out he gets a small energy burst each time he asks someone a question. “That’s my curiosity coming out. It makes me happy when I use it.” • Effortless: The strengths come easy and natural to you—you can use them without effort. Zara, for instance, explains that being honest is almost never challenging. “Honesty seeps from my pores. I don’t even think about it, I just default on being honest with people, even when it’s difficult sometimes.” Your signature strengths are important, not only as qualities that describe your identity, but also as pathways to various outcomes, such as greater happiness. Studies consistently show that the regular use of signature strengths leads people to lower depression levels and higher happiness levels (Gander et al. 2013; Seligman et al. 2005). We’ll discuss this later when we focus on strengths use. For now, let’s stick to strengths awareness. One way to discover your signature strengths is to formally assess them with the Signature Strengths Survey. Similar to yet different from the VIA Survey mentioned earlier (see the website link above), this simple, two-step scientific test was created and validated by the VIA Institute on Character.
    Signature Strengths Survey Step 1. Read the following descriptions of the 24 character strengths. Everyone uses these strengths at times. Put a check in the box next to those strengths that are absolutely essential to you, that define who you are as a person, that are part of who you are. For example, someone who has devoted his life to helping others might choose kindness as one of his essential strengths; someone who prides herself on being able to figure out other people might consider social intelligence key to who she is; and someone who is constantly seeking out new information might consider love of learning to be essential. Most people check just a few essential strengths. Please describe the person you are, NOT the person you wish you could be. Also, think about your life in general, not how you’ve behaved in only one or two situations. Essential Strength? Character Strengths 1. Creativity: You are viewed as a creative person; you see, do, and/or create things that are of use; you think of unique ways to solve problems and be productive. 2. Curiosity: You are an explorer; you seek novelty; you are interested in new activities, ideas, and people; you are open to new experiences. 3. Judgment/Critical Thinking: You are analytical; you examine things from all sides; you do not jump to conclusions, but instead attempt to weigh all the evidence when making decisions. 4. Love of Learning: You often find ways to deepen your knowledge and experiences; you regularly look for new opportunities to learn; you are passionate about building knowledge. 5. Perspective: You take the “big picture” view of things; others turn to you for wise advice; you help others make sense of the world; you learn from your mistakes. 6. Bravery/Courage: You face your fears and overcome challenges and adversity; you stand up for what is right; you do not shrink in the face of pain or inner tension or turmoil. 7. Perseverance: You keep going and going when you have a goal in mind; you attempt to overcome all obstacles; you finish what you start. 8. Honesty: You are a person of high integrity and authenticity; you tell the truth, even when it hurts; you present yourself to others in a sincere way; you take responsibility for your actions.
    Essential Strength? Character Strengths 9. Zest: You are enthusiastic toward life; you are highly energetic and activated; you use your energy to the fullest degree. 10. Love: You are warm and genuine to others; you not only share but are open to receiving love from others; you value growing close and intimate with others. 11. Kindness: You do good things for people; you help and care for others; you are generous and giving; you are compassionate. 12. Social Intelligence: You pay close attention to social nuances and the emotions of others; you have good insight into what makes people “tick”; you seem to know what to say and do in any social situation. 13. Teamwork: You are a collaborative and participative member of groups and teams; you are loyal to your group; you feel a strong sense of duty to your group; you always do your share. 14. Fairness: You believe strongly in an equal and just opportunity for all; you don’t let personal feelings bias your decisions about others; you treat people the way you want to be treated. 15. Leadership: You positively influence those you lead; you prefer to lead than to follow; you are very good at organizing and taking charge for the collective benefit of the group. 16. Forgiveness: You readily let go of hurt after you are wronged; you give people a second chance; you are not vengeful or resentful; you accept people’s shortcomings. 17. Humility: You let your accomplishments speak for themselves; you see your own goodness but prefer to focus the attention on others; you do not see yourself as more special than others; you admit your imperfections. 18. Prudence: You are wisely cautious; you are planful and conscientious; you are careful to not take undue risks or do things you might later regret. 19. Self-Regulation: You are a very disciplined person; you manage your vices and bad habits; you stay calm and cool under pressure; you manage your impulses and emotions.Essential Strength? Character Strengths 20. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence: You notice the beauty and excellence around you; you are often awestruck by beauty, greatness, and the moral goodness you witness; you are often filled with wonder. 21. Gratitude: You regularly experience and express thankfulness; you don’t take the good things that happen in your life for granted; you tend to feel blessed in many circumstances. 22. Hope: You are optimistic, expecting the best to happen; you believe in and work toward a positive future; you can think of many pathways to reach your goals. 23. Humor: You are playful; you love to make people smile and laugh; your sense of humor helps you connect closely to others; you brighten gloomy situations with fun and jokes. 24. Spirituality: Your life is infused with a sense of meaning and purpose; you feel a connection with something larger than yourself; your faith informs who you are and your place in the universe; you maintain a regular spiritual/religious practice. None of these characteristics is more essential to who I am than any of the others. Remember, you should choose this option if the strengths are all equally essential to you, NOT because you think they should be equally essential. Step 2. Review the strengths you checked. Do any of these strengths stand out as more important to who you are than the others? If so, put a second check in the box next to those strengths. This Signature Strengths Survey and the online VIA Survey, while centered on the same 24 strengths, use different methods for arriving at the results. This means that you might not generate identical results from each assessment. Therefore, taking the approach outlined in the next section is important as you reflect on and explore your unique signature. Confirming Your Signature Now that you’ve identified your signature strengths, it’s time to examine how these strengths fit you. The questions below are intended to help you understand the importance of each strength in your life and see the potency of each one in the person you’ve become today.To start, compare your top five strengths from the Signature Strengths Survey with the top five strengths identified by the VIA Survey. Are they the same? If so, complete the questions for each below, making sure to include those for which you made two checkmarks. If not, to cover all your top strengths in each survey, feel free to go beyond the space allotted for your top five to explore those as well. Character strength #1: In what ways is this strength a true description of you? Of how you operate in the world? How has this strength shown up most in your life? How has it helped you most? Be sure to consider your family, work, relationships, school, health, leisure pursuits, social life, spiritual life, and community. Character strength #2: In what ways is this strength a true description of you? Of how you operate in the world?
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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