Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Ever felt like this?
This morning I sat in the train. The sun was shining through the window. I was writing my ‘morning papers’, my journal. I bought myself a new set of colourful pens a couple of days ago and I was now using them to write my early morning papers in my red leather-bound book. Not only was I putting my spare half hour to good use by putting some of my early morning thoughts down on paper, it was starting to look really pretty too!
I felt a real sense of satisfaction, peace and joy.
And there and then it struck me … I was actually exercising one of my signature strengths: Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence!
It has been proven that you can take active steps to be happier by exercising your signature strengths every day.
So, what are your signature strengths?
Your signature strengths are the strengths that are most essential to who you are. Your strengths are the things you always do. Things you do without effort. Daily actions from which you derive real satisfaction and joy. Traits that you might not even be aware of and come so naturally to you that someone else has to point them out to you.
I once attended a team-building workshop in which we were asked to identify our values and strengths. The workshop facilitator was a colleague who I previously had worked with on a project. He said to me ‘Why did you not write down that you always want to make something look pretty?’. I looked at him and said ‘But surely that goes without saying!’.
Up until then I genuinely believed that everyone did the same. Turns out that not everyone wants to make everything look pretty! Turns out that this is actually one of my signature strengths, from which I derive immense satisfaction on an everyday basis.
If you have read some of my other blogs you will know that reading is an absolute passion of mine. And sure enough, when I took the VIA character strengths survey it became clear that ‘Love of Learning’ was also one my top signature strengths!
So, what does all of this mean for you?
It means that you can use your signature strengths to be happier, at work and at home. And you can start right now!
Is your signature strength Love of Learning? Make sure that you find opportunities to learn something new every day. Read a book. Listen to a podcast or a TED talk. Find out something new at work. Be curious.
Is your strength ‘Perseverance’, and do you get real satisfaction out of finishing what you start? See if you can set up your day so that you can finish something every day. Make sure that you celebrate crossing something off your to-do list.
And yes, if your signature strength is Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence there is absolutely nothing wrong with using coloured pens to cheer up your morning papers or with making an effort (which of course is not an effort!) to make your documents look pretty.
Is none of your signature strengths being satisfied at work? Actively go looking for opportunities to incorporate activities in your job that play to your signature strengths.
Do you not know what your signature strengths are? I can strongly recommend the VIA character strengths survey. The outcomes might surprise you!
So, what are your strengths? And what can you do to use them every day?