engagement is being absorbed in doing what we love.
- Individuals who tried using their strengths in new ways each day for a week were happier and less depressed six months later (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)
- People who reported using their strengths also reported more positive emotion, and greater vitality and self-esteem, compared with people who did not feel they used their strengths (Wood, Linley, Maltby, Kashdan, & Hurling, 2011).
- Use of character strengths contributes positively to both physical and mental wellbeing (Proctor, Maltby, & Linley, 2011).
APPLYING YOUR STRENGTHS TO DIFFERENT SITUATIONS
Did you know that research showed using your "signature strengths" in a new way each day increases happiness and reduces depressive symptoms?
What are signature or character strengths? - they are the qualities that we have which lead to flourishing, fulfilment, satisfaction, happiness and lift us up.
You can find out your signature strengths for free by taking the VIA questionnaire (free but requires creation of login) at https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/
So let's say your number one strength is Humor and perhaps you find some task at work difficult, can you apply humor in some way to that difficult or mundane task and notice what happens?
VIA CLASSIFICATION OF CHARACTER STRENGTHS
Appreciation of beauty & Excellence
[awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
[Valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it.
[social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share.
[originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.
[interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in all of ongoing experience; finding all subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.
Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
FORGIVENESS & MerCY
Forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.
Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
[optimisim, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.
[playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.
[authenticity, honesty]: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions.
[Open-mindedness, critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one's mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.
[nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, "niceness": Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.
Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintaining good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen
Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people.
LOVE OF LEARNING
Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally, obviously related tot he strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.
MODEsty and humility
Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding oneself as more special than one is
[Perserverence, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; "getting it out the door"; taking pleasure in completing tasks.
Being able to provide wide counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that makes sense to oneself and to other people.
Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
[self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one's appetites and emotions.
[emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.
[religiousness, faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.
[vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated.
YOUTUBE VIDEOS ON VALUES AND FINDING MEANING
THE BENEFITS OF FINDING MEANING
- People who have purpose in their lives may have improved immune system function (Kashdan & McKnight, 2009).
- Positive emotions are associated with experiencing meaning in life (King, Hicks, Krull & Del Gaiso, 2006).
- Meaning making is associate with higher psychological wellbeing after significant life-changing events (Tavernier & Willoughby, 2012)
What does this mean practically?
If you know what you value, then at any time you have the power to think, speak or do things in according with your values. This is useful to acknowledge as often we have goals that serve our values but unfortunately even the best-laid plans can be quashed but values can survive this. Most people find if they are living according to their values, their stress levels naturally decrease and they feel happier. The good news, is they can also help motivate us if we are more aware of them and most people can withstand some discomfort if it serves a purpose that they think is important -- so you can still have anxious or depressed thoughts but you may still be willing to do something that is important to you even whilst those unpleasant emotions are present.
For instance, if your goal is get married and have children- this goal is subject to factors outside your control and you may become unhappy if your partner does not want the same goal.
However, if your value is to be loving, caring, show affection, find connection, sharing joy, being present with others through difficulty - regardless of whether you are married, single, separated or widowed - you can do things at any time in accordance with those values. It is natural to feel anxious or fear of rejection or disappointment if we do not have what we want, but acknowledging our values, we can continue to be loving, caring - the person we wish to be - and it doesn't hurt that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we focus on the actions that are consistent with our values.
If your goal is to work and earn a living, it may be worthwhile examining if there is something else that you value about work. For instance a person who has lost their job may value providing a safe, secure and stable environment for their family in addition to financial security, or they may enjoy contribution, team-work, creativity, curiosity, learning. However even without active employment, we can at any time do other things to provide a safe and secure home environment - and acknowledging that this may mean simply being present to our family can be important. Or even if we have lost our job, we can continue to contribute in other ways to our family, society and there may be other ways of exercising our curiosity, love of learning, intellectual stimulation and creativity. This might mean finding new ways of applying for a job, or looking for new avenues of work, or we mind outlets for our values in other aspects of our life like in a hobby or social life.
So values are helpful to acknowledge because they are durable even if our priorities may change over time. Even if our circumstances may change we always have a choice to live according to our values.
Be careful misidentifying goals that are not values. These are things a "dead person" can do better.
So a dead person can feel no pain or suffering quite easily so this is not the same as a value.
A dead person also does not get sick or complain that its body does not work the way it wants to.
It can be useful to think of what it is you stand for, what you'd like friends and family to say about you in 10, 20, 30 years time when giving a speech about you.
A List of Values to consider (RuSS Harris, 2010)
to be open an accepting of myself and others, life etc.
to be adventurous; to actively seek, create, or explore novel or stimulation
to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to myself
to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc
to be caring towards myself, others, the environment etc
to keep challenging myself to grow, learn, improve
to act with kindness towards those who are suffering
to engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others
to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others
to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligations
to be cooperative and collaborative with others
to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
to be creative or innovative
to be curious, open-minded and interested; to explore and discover
to encourage and reward behaviour that I value in myself or others
to treat others as equal to myself, and vice-versa
to seek, create and engage in activities that are exciting, stimulating or thrilling
to be fair to myself or others
to maintain or improve my fitness; to look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing
to adjust and adapt readily to changing circumstances
to live freely; to choose how I live and behave, or help others do likewise
to be friendly, companionable, or agreeable towards others
to be forgiving towards myself or others
to be fun-loving; to seek, create, and engage in fun-filled activities
to be generous, sharing and giving, to myself or others
to be grateful for and appreciative of the positive aspects of myself, others and life
to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others
to see and appreciate the humorous side of life
to be humble or modest; to let my achievements speak for themselves
to be industrious, hard-working, dedicated
to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things
to open up, reveal, and share myself -- emotionally or physically – in my close personal relationships
to uphold justice and fairness
to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards myself or others
to act lovingly or affectionately towards myself or others
to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience
to be orderly and organized
to think things through, see things from other’s points of view, and weigh evidence fairly.
to wait calmly for what I want
to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties.
to create and give pleasure to myself or others
to build relationships in which there is a fair balance of giving and taking
to be respectful towards myself or others; to be polite, considerate and show positive regard
to be responsible and accountable for my actions
to be romantic; to display and express love or strong affection
to secure, protect, or ensure safety of myself or others
to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings and actions
to look after my health and wellbeing, and get my needs met
to keep growing, advancing or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience.
to act in accordance with my own ideals
to create, explore and enjoy experiences that stimulate the five senses
to explore or express my sexuality
to connect with things bigger than myself
to continually practice and improve my skills, and apply myself fully when using them
to be supportive, helpful, encouraging, and available to myself or others
to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.