Strengths Savvy

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, I invited you to hunt for the good stuff in someone else and go strength-spotting (1)! Strengths-spotting (our ability to accurately identify and show appreciation for strengths in others) can enhance relationships (2) and is supported by research (3). It’s also a great way to help others feel seen and valued.

Simply having value for someone else does not ensure that they feel valued. Others have to perceive our support through action. When we demonstrate understanding, validation, and care to others, we build the trust and intimacy that is key to positive outcomes and successful relationships (4). 

Did you choose someone to show appreciation for and go strengths-spotting last week? I hope you took the time to attend to the good stuff, identify their strength(s), find evidence, and express your appreciation. 

I hope you enjoyed catching other people at their best as much as I did!

How did it feel to share your appreciation? It can be awkward or uncomfortable. So if this was the case for you, remember, you’re not alone! Transparency of emotion makes us vulnerable, and tends to be easier in trusting relationships after practice. So start small and/or use your own language as a way to get started. I hope you found a way to strength-spot that was authentic to you and allowed you to share genuine appreciation for someone else!

This week, I want to wrap up our time talking about strengths and send you off with a few ideas that will help you become strengths savvy, so you can continue to benefit from the power of strengths moving forward.

Over the last 13 weeks, I have invited you to discover and use your strengths in action. My intention has been to draw your attention to your strengths on a regular basis, so that you become facile with your strengths tool-belt. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend repeating these same actions over and over as a long-term solution. 

My goal is to engage your strengths. 

You may have noticed that each week I’ve encouraged you to get creative, try new ways of engaging your strengths, and utilize your strengths tool-belt in various circumstances. Well, there’s a reason. Most of the research on strengths looks at using your strengths in new or novel ways when accessing potential benefits. As of yet, I haven’t seen research on using strengths in the same way over time, and I anticipate that long-term repetition would cause us to adapt to the beneficial impact of strengths use. 

So, I invite you to continue to engage your strengths. Revisit the questions from previous weeks and be creative when you utilize your strengths tool-belt. One great way to do that is by harnessing the Aware, Explore, Apply (AEA) method (1)!

The AEA method is exactly what it sounds like, and you may be more familiar with it than you realize as I have been modeling this method through my questions  and invitations. First, we spent time drawing your awareness to each virtue category and discovering your strengths associated with it. Then, I encouraged you to explore your strengths in a variety of contexts and domains as I invited you too intentionally apply them through action (1). 

Get strengths savvy and harness the AEA method! 

  1. Be Aware. Get curious and attend to the good stuff in yourself and others. Work to highlight strengths and decrease strengths blindness.  
  2. Explore. Dig deep. Notice how your strengths play a role in your successes and failures, when they become hot-buttons, and what it looks like when you overuse or underuse them as you search for Aristotle’s “golden mean” (5). 
  3. Apply your strengths in new ways! Get creative. Show appreciation for other’s strengths and harness your strengths to develop well-being and align your actions with your values. 

Capitalizing on your strengths tool-belt is particularly effective when the goal is to cultivate well-being and performance simultaneously. Engage your character strengths to experience increased pleasure, engagement, and meaning – three important pathways to happiness and well-being.

Strengths benefit your overall well-being, and help you:

Increase Positive Emotions

Persist in Difficult Tasks and Increase Engagement

Show Appreciation and Build Positive Relationships

Express Values and Cultivate Meaning

Feel Competent and Accomplished

Are there limitations? Sure. As we search for our “golden mean”, it’s important to remember that using our strengths well is a dynamic process influenced by personal beliefs, goals and values (6). 

I hope you’ve enjoyed becoming strengths savvy and exploring what is best within YOU! I look forward to seeing you again next Monday as we continue to explore well-being!

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Niemiec R. VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York: Springer; 2013.

2. Niemiec, R. Character Strengths: Using the VIA in applied settings. MAPP 600 in class lecture. Lecture conducted from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; January 12, 2014.

3. Buschor C, Proyer R, Ruch W. Self-and peer-rated character strengths: How do they relate to satisfaction with life and orientations to happiness?. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2013; 8(2), 116-127.

4. Reis H, Shaver P. Intimacy as an interpersonal process. Handbook of personal relationships, 24(3), 367-389. New York: Wiley; 1988.

5. Crisp R. (Ed.). Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics. Cambridge University Press; 2014.

6. Biswas-Diener R, Kashdan T, Minhas G. A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2011; 6(2), 106-118.

  • Special thanks to the VIA Pro Practitioner Guide, 2011.