August's social, vibrant and fiery energy is an invitation to bring our talents and passions to center stage. But what if you don't know what those talents are? What if you're unsure about what you should be doing with your life or where your strengths lie?
Positive Psychology is a branch of Psychology which studies how people can increase happiness, quality of life, well-being and contentment. One of the ways in which to do this is to identify our natural character strengths so that we can more easily cultivate passion & flow and even help minimize our weaknesses.
Positive Psychology identifies 24 character strengths or virtues under six categories ~ transcendence, courage, wisdom, justice, temperance & humanity.
To illustrate, my Top 5 character strengths are:
Knowing my top 5 character strengths helps me interact with others, with myself and the world around me in a more educated way.
For instance, my husband would not agree that curiosity is a strength haha!! I tend to drive him nuts with my questions and incessant need to know even the smallest minutiae about everything. He still doesn't love my Columbo-esque questioning of most things but at least now he understands that this is how I gather and process information and it has helped us communicate with each other more effectively.
As a little kid and throughout my life, I was always studying, reading, taking a class or attending a camp. It is something that truly brings me joy and contentment and always has. Knowing now that Love of Learning is one of my Top 5 strengths, I make taking courses and attending workshops & trainings a priority for my adult self-care.
I was surprised that Spirituality would be considered a strength but now that I know, I prioritize my devotional, prayer and meditation time even more - it's pretty much the first thing I do every morning and the last thing I do every night.
Career & Community
A main component of Positive Psychology is exploring how to use our strengths to help our families, our community and the world around us. Coaching, teaching, exploring the esoteric, sharing knowledge & ideas and interacting with people is everything I love. Identifying these strengths helped me create the life I'm living now and helped focus my contribution to the world - from volunteering with charities and coaching my kids' basketball teams to teaching workshops and yoga to researching, creating and sharing content. My quality of life has significantly improved since I started living in alignment with these innate characteristics.
Using Strengths to Minimize Weaknesses
From the table below, identify a weakness you may have. Mine is obsessiveness. I tend to get very excited about a new idea or inspiration and then research it to complete and utter death. Through Positive Psychology, I use my strengths - Love of Learning and Perspective, to set limits and boundaries for myself so that I don't burn out my days researching every little whim that blows into my mind. I allow myself to gather information but set realistic parameters so that I don't go overboard working into all hours of the night.
The University of Pennsylvania (where I studied Positive Psychology) has a free 298-questionnaire listed on their website - the VIA survey of character strengths. This test will generate your top character strengths so that you can gain insight into your natural abilities and finding your flow.
Do you know your top strengths? How do you use these to increase happiness and well-being in your daily life?
Do you have the capacity to receive AND hold on to what you think you want?
Let’s try it – how does it feel in your body to imagine inviting a loving, healthy relationship into your life?
Where do you feel this in your body? What sensations do you feel when you imagine this? How does it feel – expansive or constricting? Do you feel a sense of lightness at the prospect of sharing your life with a supportive partner, or does the thought of this agitate you because your nervous system is used to chaotic relationships? Did you have to self-soothe as a child so now the thought of living with someone else makes you anxious because you are truly most comfortable alone?
Tomorrow marks the Fall Equinox and signifies one of two days out of the year (the other being the Spring or 'Vernal' Equinox) when day and night are almost exactly equal lengths and the entire planet is most in balance.
Taking our queue from Nature's rhythms, this week is the optimal time to examine balance in our lives.