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Take a moment to think about the best qualities in you? Are you strong? bold? creative? logical? compassionate? grateful?  determined?

Even science has shown that people who use their strengths are happier, less depressed, achieve more, and feel more purpose and meaning in their lives compared to those who don’t.

Even though we all have some sort of idea of our strengths and weaknesses, listing them can be hard; for example is being artistic a strength? is logical thinking a strength? 

Also, how to use your strengths? I like to think I am a creative person – I love singing, dancing and painting. I think creativeness makes me more flexible, adaptable and relaxed. Yet, sometimes it also makes me a bit all over the place – I always want to be creative in the places where it might slow down to reaching my goals.

We have some much potential to overcome many difficulties and tasks easier and faster with the help of our strengths. The problem is that we lack two kinds of knowledge; what counts as a strength and how to use strength in different situations? Thus, we need a tool to measure the strengths and a way to work out how they can be applied to our normal everyday life. Luckily, there is one!

VIA Character Strengths

The VIA (Virtues in Action) is a science-based classification system that measures 24 traits (characters strengths) that are divided into 6 categories (virtues). All people express some traits more than others. For example, one person could have more zest and energy whereas the other is more prudent and calm.

This system is created within the past three decades by the scientists in the field of positive psychologist. The 24 strengths that the test measures are universal, found in various religions and philosophies and each can stand on their own as a trait. The virtues and strengths were identified by scientists Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, and another 55 psychologists after intensively studying world religions, philosophies and scientists like Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Maslow, Erik H. Erikson, and so on. They noticed that these 24 strengths can be found in every philosophy and they are always used to describe the best characters in people. After multiple years of research and development. The Character Strengths and Virtues book by Seligman and Peterson is now regarded as the “backbone of positive psychology” (Character Strengths and Virtues, Oxford University Press and APA, 2004).

Why test your strengths?

Knowing your character strengths not only gives your insight and self-knowledge of what is your personality like and what are the best sides of you; you can also use them in life to buffer against problems, improve your performance and enhance overall wellbeing. Because you are using the qualities that come most naturally to you, you can gain more ease of being in some tasks that you have previously found hard or stressful. There are now multiple studies showing that using strengths has been associated with or leads to

  • higher sustained levels of happiness
  • lower depression
  • more positive experiences, emotions, and engagement
  • increased flow
  • increased purpose and meaning
  • increased job satisfaction and productivity
  • better achievement (academic and professional)
  • better wellbeing at work
  • engage more in health behaviours

There are strong links between the systematic use of strengths and psychological wellbeing, less deperssion, more happiness and more life satisfaction – especially zest, hope, gratitude, love, and curiosity.

How to use strengths – a 7-day exercise

When you have identified your strengths (click here to take the test), there are multiple ways you can start using them for your benefits. You can learn about those in the VIA webpage.

One of the best exercises I have tried is the following one:

  1. Read over your list of signature strengths (For example my characters strengths include gratitude, perspective, and creativity)
  2. After learning what are your strengths, think about ways in which you already use them in your life
  3. Then take a pen and paper and brainstorm ways in which you can use them in new ways. Write down a list of 7 specific actions. Then for the next week, execute each action

My experience:

For, example my characters strengths include gratitude, perspective, and creativity. I choose the following actions:

1. Gratitude: List 3 things to be grateful for

2. Gratitude: Express your gratitude personally to someone you have not told before

3. Gratitude: Think about something you take for granted and me mindfully grateful about it for today

4. Perspective: Read inspirational quotes and think situations where you can use them as an encouragement to yourself and other people

5. Perspective: Today do something that builds a positive moral future for the society

6. Creativity: Draw 1 new mandala (my secret hobby since I was a teen)

7. Creativity: Imagine 3 new mobile Apps that you would love to use and would make your life easier

(If you can’t figure out any way of using your strengths, you can find lists to use character strengths from google, just type: ways to use character strengths).

I love this exercise. It takes almost no time but it really makes you appreciate the good in you and become better in recognizing situations where you can use your strengths even better. In addition, I notice I can now more easily find my strengths in problematic situations. So there is definitely a transfer effect in this exercise to other situations as well.

Would you do it? Let me know!

My strengths – 6 months in between tests

I think VIA character survey works as a great gateway to self-knowledge and can really widen your perspective on how to apply your natural skills in everyday situations. I find extremely useful. VIA character strengths measure is an easy, simple and effective personality test to identify the best in you. Having learned about my strengths, I find that it easier to start applying them into situations that have normally felt distressing to me – I feel more natural and relaxed even with difficult tasks when I use my strengths in them. 

I have done strengths survey 3-4 times now. The tendency is to get similar top strengths that change order. Nevertheless, we change and grow and so can our strengths, so it is definitely useful to re-do the test every now and then.

I would love to hear about your results so please share in the comments if you take the test.

The character strength survey can be done here (click here), and takes about 15 minutes.

Have you done any personality test? What do you think about them? Have they been useful to you?

Lots of Love,
Inka