By answering these questions, you’ll begin discovering your own unique strengths to help you move forward in life.
Research in positive psychology has shown that people are healthier, happier, and more successful when they focus on what they love to do. But most people do just the opposite. A Gallup survey has revealed that most people in the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, and Canada spend a lot more time concentrating on their weaknesses than on their strengths.
Why? There are lots of reasons — childhood conditioning (“you’re not good enough”), external pressure, stress, anxiety, and sheer force of habit. Too many people wander through life, lost in the shadows of doubt and self-criticism, when they could live with greater joy and meaning by focusing on their strengths.
I ask all my coaching clients to fill out the VIA Strengths Survey, which identifies their top five character strengths or “signature strengths.” The survey is based on years of international research, which identified the 24 character strengths common to humankind. Research has shown that using our signature strengths on a regular basis enables us to flourish--to live with greater physical and emotional health, joy, and well-being.
You can find out your signature strengths by taking the free VIA Strengths Survey at www.authentichappiness.org. First you’ll need to sign in and answer some demographic questions. The survey should take between 30 and 40 minutes. Then you can print out your top five strengths.
For research on the positive effects of using our signature strengths, see:
Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.
For research on the Gallup survey, see:
Hodges, T. D. & Clifton. D. O. (2004). Strengths-based development in practice. In P. A. Linley & S. Joseph. (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 256-268).Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Discovering your strengths is the first step in finding your life’s calling in my book:
Dreher, D. E. (2008). Your Personal Renaissance. New York, NY: DaCapo Press.
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