I wonder what you thought when you read the title of this blog? Did you think about the muscle men at the gym, the Arnold Schwarzenegger or Eddie Hall type people? Those who lift phenomenally heavy weights that defy what could be thought of as humanly possible?
There is something very positive to be said for physical exercise that involves weight lifting, or strengths based training. The feeling of having a physically strong body can be so empowering and has, in my experience, a positive impact on self-confidence. But, this article isn’t about body strength; it’s about discovering and training your personal character strengths.
What are Character Strengths?
Character strengths can be defined as positive traits reflected in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Martin Seligman, an eminent psychologist in the world of positive psychology, and some of his colleagues spent considerable time researching and specifying important positive traits which resulted in the Values In Action (VIA) Classification of Strengths. They developed this system which details 24 character strengths that sit within six virtues and characteristics that are deemed valuable almost universally.
What Are Your Strengths?
The chances are that if I asked you what your strengths are you’d most likely be able to tell me two or three positive character strengths you can spot in yourself. But if I asked you to tell me five strengths you might struggle. This can be because we often forget to notice the things we do best and have a tendency to notice our inadequacies. Have you ever thought that investing time and energy into an area of strength might be more productive and successful than using our personal resources to overcome weaknesses?
With that in mind why don’t you find out what your strengths are? Take the VIA survey strengths assessment tool. When you have your list of strengths look at the top five, do they resonate with you? Ask yourself the following questions
- Do I feel naturally drawn to this strength?
- Is this the real me?
- Do I feel excited or energised by it?
- Would others see it in me?
When you are happy with your top 5 strengths ask yourself the following question
- How often have you intentionally used this strength currently – at work, at home, in your hobbies or interests?
Write the answer to this question down, how do you demonstrate this strength – how does it make you feel when you recognise this? I’m wondering if you feel a sense of pride, or perhaps even a little pleased with yourself.
There is evidence to show that recognising our strengths can give us a boost to our subjective wellbeing. Which is great right? But shall we take this one step further?
How to Develop Your Character Strengths
Pick one of your top 5 strengths and think about how you can develop this. For example, if one of your stop character strengths is curiosity here’s some ideas of how you could apply this in your daily life to develop that particular strength:
- Attend a talk on a subject you don’t know anything about
- Try a food you’ve never had before
- Be curious about someone – connect with them
- Visit a gallery or museum you’ve never been to before
- Try a new exercise class or dance class
- Pick a new hobby to try out – could you learn a new language? Learn to throw a pot? Learn how to play golf?
- Ask the people you know what makes them most happy or if they could invite 5 people to dinner from history of present day who they would invite and why (I love this question!)
- Pick a place to visit that you’ve never been to before
Developing your character strengths has been shown in scientific evidence to enhance your subjective wellbeing and help you to flourish in life. If you can find ways to do this every day it will make an impact upon your life. The beauty of doing this activity is that it doesn’t have to be large grand gestures; you can apply small simple changes that could form new habits for you each day.
We started out this blog with an assumption that strength training meant building muscles. I’m pretty sure that character strengths and mindset will also play a part in being able to lift the weights like Arnold and Eddie – I wonder if perseverance was in their top 5?
You might be wondering what all this has to do with weight loss? Well, in my experience staying strong whilst making changes is really helpful. I have found this to not only be true for myself but also for people that I work with.
I hope you enjoy applying your strengths!
(P.S. one of my top 5 strengths is a love of learning, and I would certainly love to know how you get along – so please feel free to drop me a comment below!)