How often do you struggle to talk to others around you about the things you are good at? We pause and reflect and quite happily talk share our deficits, the things that are wrong with us, which we need to work on. When we focus on the negative side of each situation it can have a toxic impact on others around us, particularly children, much the same way that second hand smoke is harmful to those in the same room. As parents if we are focusing in the negative, know that it has an impact on our children. How can we change our perspective?
Every one of us has signature strengths. The question is how are you using yours and how are we nurturing these in our children and ourselves.
At our very core, we each have our own set of strengths. These play a significant role in our daily lives. When we use our strengths, we feel energized and satisfied. In fact, research shows that our greatest successes are the result our using our signature strengths. Character strengths are universal and scientific. In other words, research has been conducted all over the world and shows that humans share the same strengths. The difference is how we use them in our own unique way. The Values in Action strengths are universally valued, they exist within each of us and they can be nurtured. And, they provide a language for us to talk about ‘what is right’ with us…our strengths.
The Values In Action (VIA) Character Strengths survey identifies our strongest and weakest character qualities. Developed by Martin Seligman and Christ Peterson, the Character Strengths are shared by humans the world over. The survey is free and can be completed in 10 minutes on the VIA website (www.viacharacter.org).
Research shows that when we are using our strengths, we can expect to experience:
– increased happiness at home and at work
– a sense of purpose, ownership and authenticity while using the strength
– a rapid learning curve when using the strength
Nurturing our strengths is shown to be both energising and satisfying and is linked to increased happiness – why would we not use them?
Here are some ideas to nurture your strengths with the commonly held signature strengths.
– Respect our earth by picking up litter from along one of our beaches
– Collect and take empty cans to a recycling centre and drop the money you receive back into a donation jar or give it to a charity
– Perform random acts of kindness
– Encourage everyone’s participation in a discussion or activity including those who may feel left out
– Read biographies of famous people who exemplify fairness such as Ganhdi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King
– Speak up for your group
– Consider whether the actions you take over the next week match the words you use
– Refrain from telling small white lies to friends, family and colleagues including insincere compliments. If you do, take the step to admit it and apologise right away – even to your children
– Express gratitude without using the words ‘Thank You’
– Write down three blessings (good things) before going to bed each night
– Every day, select one small yet important thing that you take for granted. Work on being mindful of this in the future
– Notice how many times you say ‘Thanks’ and whether you mean it each time
– Express thanks to those who have contributed to your success, no matter how small their contribution might have been
– Before eating, think of all people who have contributed to what you are eating. Do this at least once a week
– Over dinner, talk with your loved ones about two good things that happened to them during the day
The VIA Strengths give us a language and clues of who we are at our core. These are the personality characteristics that allow us to feel engaged, authentic and unique in our life. Next time you are asked to speak about your strengths – use the language of the VIA and be proud to share what you are good at. When we focus on our strengths and the positive, what is going right – that is what will grow.