Learning about Strengths
Every once in a while there’s a discussion around whether living according to your strengths and showing your authentic self is good or damaging. Often in these discussions people hide behind labels such as authenticity or strengths: I screwed up because it’s not my strength. I didn’t do it properly because I didn’t feel like doing it in that moment. The moment you start using your strengths and your authenticity as excuses you will probably walk into trouble.
Because of my innate interest and strengths I prefer soccer to say ballet. However if I am serious about improving my soccer skills, I might have to do things which temporarily drain my energy such as practicing to juggle the ball with my feet. Your strengths exempt you from doing ballet but they should never be the excuse to shirk the stuff you need to do to gain mastery at something that is important to you.
There is this fear that if we pay more attention to our strengths we will get lazy, rest on our laurels and stop growing.
Apart from the fact that strengths make us feel so good that we want to expand without prodding from the outside even if that is not the case try doing something you do well without expanding. Boredom will set in soon enough and with it the motivation to grow. We don’t have to beat ourselves up to grow or constantly run.
When we actually rest on our laurels too long it becomes boring and that is a blessing. If we never rest on them it’s very hard to ever feel satisfied with what we have achieved. So let boredom help you guide the way.
As I was playing the piano I had this impulse to skip over a part I had always struggled with. I invoked a loophole that went along these lines: I am not good at it, it’s not my strength, so I should play the parts that I am good at better.
However we have to be careful when we use strengths as excuses or confuse them with something that has nothing to do with our character strengths: the muscle memory needed to play piano has nothing to do with my strengths of strategy, intellection or connectedness to name a few. One way that this becomes evident is that when playing an instrument after lots of drill practice (just practicing the same section over and over) it can suddenly become one of the easiest and most enjoyable parts of the whole song. This is an indication that it has nothing to do with weaknesses: real weaknesses are not simply turned around after a few drills and become enjoyable and pleasurable. If they do they were not weaknesses to begin with but just things you had little experience with.
Gratitude practice can feel stale if we don’t bring in some variety. How about being grateful for something you have never been grateful for? Like your country’s constitution or the fact that you have the headspace to read this right now.
We all have a long history in discounting our own courage.
As a counter measure try to write a personal courage history.
Hard work is glorified so much that we often forget the value of ease. Your strengths make things easy for you that are hard or impossible for others. What comes easy to you? And what happens when you do more of that and sharpen your skills?
Only 50% of the challenge of being disabled comes from actually being disabled. We disable each other by
While looking for outward inspiration is a good first step we can never find balance in anything if we don’t look at our own life. The strengths lens can help us with that. Usually strengths are used to discover what we enjoy and what gives us energy and meaning. But by asking some simple and strengths lens inspired questions we can get helpful clues:
Something that I observe when doing strengths coaching is that people feel liberated by taking a strengths test. By seeing their strengths but also the activities which take energy away from them on paper people often take the results as permission to do what they always wanted to and reduce the activities that take energy away from them. What they tell me is that the confirmation of their strengths has this effect. So tell the people around you what they think they do best without expecting anything from them. Every once in a while you might be surprised to see that you either planted a seed or provided that last drop to make them finally prioritize something important to them.
We understand changes only through comparison. Therefore we are naturally paying attention to big changes because you don’t need to be perceptive to detect those. However nature’s changes are mostly imperceptible when they happen: the leaves don’t change from one day to the next but start with small spots that change colour. The change might seem sudden if we haven’t looked at
So you are ready to give it a go. You want to express strengths more in your life but like starting other habits, this seems daunting. One way of solving the problem is building
So you took the VIA survey, the Realise2, Strengthscope or the Clifton Strengthsfinder and the results suck.There might be three reasons for that: read more …
Words can be surprisingly misleading. Are you up for an experiment? Ask three people what they think happiness means. Not what personally makes them happy but just what happiness is according to a dictionary.
Humans compare things all the time. If the comparison turns out in our favour we feel good, if it doesn’t we need to do something to explain it away. One of the most popular ways of explaining other people’s success away is by
When you make an extra-effort to save time, know exactly how to use those extra fifteen minutes you have ‘gained’. If the effort to save time results in added stress you might actually lose time: time you could have been a happier version of yourself. It’s not always a trade-off between saving time and being happy. But it’s good to know when it is.
There are more good ideas in this world than you will ever come around to do anything with. It’s a valuable thing to learn to distinguish whether an idea is good or not. However we often get stuck in that read more …
It’s surprisingly hard to express gratitude every chance we get or to see the light side of things more often, even if we put our mind to it. In fact trying to increase or decrease any behaviour is often challenging because we a) simply forget or b) read more …
This is the website and app for which Acacia is the scientific advisor:
Here you can find out more about Acacia and Hiram College:
She recommended that newbies to positive psychology start with this book:
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During the World Cup in Brazil the thing that surprised me the most had nothing to do with football. It had to do with carrots and cheese. read more …