Finding Your Strengths

Many tools exist to help you identify your strengths. You may have heard of the Gallup Strengths Finder or taken a quiz or survey to find the strengths you bring to your team or organization. Is any tool better than another? More than likely, that’s not the case. So why look at strengths when there are so many other topics to uncover?

As a social worker, I have spent a lot of time delving into people’s problems. Working with the chronically mentally ill, I spent time looking at pathology, relapse, and a sometimes overwhelming history of abuse or neglect. When someone walks in your office suffering, you might lead with “what brings you in today” or some other platitude that leads to a history of negatives rather than strengths. Now, I have plenty of positive things to say about therapy and there are many strengths-based models that social workers and therapists utilize. However, with the choice of working with a new client’s strengths versus weakness, I will always choose the former.

As my interests in Positive Psychology have peaked, so has my interest in utilizing tools that help the clients I work with assess and better understand their strengths. One such tool is The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA). This tool is a psychological assessment measure designed to identify an individual’s profile of character strengths. It was created by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, well-known researchers in the field of positive psychology.  VIA allows people to identify their own positive strengths and learn how to capitalize on them. It is said that when someone can identify and work within their strengths, they can truly flourish.

According to research, the top 5 strengths indicated for greater happiness include: zest, curiosity, hope and optimism, gratitude and capacity to love and be loved. Luckily for us, we can identify our strengths and work to move up those that score lower. This means with a bit of knowledge and intention, we can strengthen our zest or curiosity and begin to see improvement in our perceived happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happier or flourish?

So take a few moments to register for free at www.authentichappiness.com and take the VIA. You will be given a list of your top 5 strengths but explore further. Where do the top 5 happiness indicators fall for you?  If one of more of them is outside of your top 10, identify some tasks that can help you strengthen that characteristic. After all, we can all use a bit more positivity in our lives.

Chantyl Parris, LMSW

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