How often do we toot our own horn? By that I mean boast a bit. I may not do it very often, but I sure love to hear from others about my strengths and accomplishments. Research shows that people who develop strong points are more happy and productive.
Dr. Christopher Peterson, who directed the clinical psychology program at the University of Michigan, was a scholar of optimism and hope. He led a study and came up with a way to classify and measure human strengths.
So what might a list of strengths look like? To make your own list, ask yourself some important questions. Find out who you are and what you feel passionate about.
Questions to consider:
1. Do you have a curiosity about the world? Maybe you experiment with cooking foods from other countries, or take time to travel to different places. Perhaps you enjoy reading about exotic lands or being an armchair travel on the internet. If this is you, you might be interested in joining some groups and meeting new people who can share their interests and ideas with you. Engage them in conversation.
2. Can you say no to someone, if saying no is in your best interest? Often people say yes because they are afraid of being disliked or rejected. It is now known that the ability to say no makes saying yes so much more meaningful. Practice being assertive. Consider your own needs. If you must say no, doing so brings a credibility to the yes that you might be able to say at a future time.
3. Do you have dreams that you have left dormant? Allow a dream to turn into a goal. Let a sense of vitality and hope enter your consciousness. This strategy brings a different perspective to everyday tasks. Think back to something that gave you hours of joy, but that you no longer allow yourself to do. Even if your dream is grandiose and doesn’t seem attainable, find a part of it that is. Don’t defer it. Can you dream it? If so, then there is some part of it that you can do. Share your dream with those people closest to you.
4. Are you funny? Can you make people laugh? Do you laugh at yourself from time to time? Bringing smiles to other people is a gift. Use it more often.
5. Do you practice kindness? Even a sincere please and thank you to others is a good start. Do you have a pleasant disposition and show concern for others? Do a favor for someone just because—without expecting anything in return.
6. Can you forgive people who have done wrong to you? Give them a second chance. Let go of any vengeful thoughts. Accept the shortcomings of others and yourself. Making mistakes is human.
7. Are you grateful? Express appreciation for the good things in your life, taking the time to say thanks.
These seven strengths are just a few you might have. Tune in and explore your own character.
You might discover strengths such as persistence, leadership, hope, and integrity. Keep a journal of your daily activities, and you may find a reservoir of assets that you never knew you had. This could be one of the most liberating experiences you could have, because once you know your key strengths, you will be more empowered and find more ways to have a fulfilling and authentic life.
“Life only demands from you the strength that you possess. Only one feat is possible: not to run away.” —Dag Hammarskjold (1905–1961), secretary-general of the United Nations