MY Signature Strengths (Science of Well-being Week 1 Rewirements)

Signature Strengths are one’s top (i.e. strongest) Character Strengths from the free assessment on the VIA site. I will opt for Top 7 to have a more varied suite of Signature Strengths compared to some other popular small grouping like Top 4 or Top 3. This will give me more Signature Strengths to work on, and to have more options from which to draw any time I need to refer to my Signature Strengths, as will be required in future rewirements. Having a Top 7 list is also more practical than just Top 3 or Top 4, from what I had seen of other content on how to use Signature Strengths. Finally, My Top 7 Character Strengths are all very strong so they could be true Signature Strengths, rather than just some Character Strengths picked out to fill slots for Signature Strengths.

 

MY Signature Strengths

From my post self-assessing the results of my Character Strengths assessment from the VIA site, my Signature Strengths are, in decreasing order from my strongest Character Strength at top:

 CATEGORY   SIGNATURE STRENGTH
 Wisdom  Creativity
 Wisdom  Curiosity
 Courage  Honesty
 Transcendence   Hope
 Transcendence  Humour
 Courage  Zest
 Wisdom  Judgment

The list only has 3 of the 6 categories, which has its benefits and drawbacks. For benefits, by category, it is fairly clear what is meaningful to me. For drawbacks, I don’t have half the categories covered by any Character Strengths to the extent of Signature Strengths. I disputed some of the rankings in my post self-assessing my Character Strengths, but I am happy to use this list because some of the other Character Strengths I self-assessed to be stronger than in my results are pretty close to a Character Strength that is one of my Signature Strength, that I could be looking at an even less diverse set of results!.

Signature Strengths, when employed, make things more meaningful, from research in Positive Psychology on which all of this is based. I’ll post about that in the future from a Week 5 lesson in the course for which Professor Santos had pointed to for optional viewing in Week 1. Having 3 of my Top 7 Character Strengths categorized in Wisdom, which only has 5 Character Strengths in total, shows how meaningful Wisdom is to me. Seems I might not have been joking subconsciously when I told my colleagues recently that I’d dress up as Confucius for Hallowe’en later this year! And it’s no wonder that whiteboard I set up on the outside of my work cubicle wall encouraging people to share inspirational quotes, on which I always leave one of my own, makes me so happy everyday! 🙂

Courage and Transcendence categories are pretty much a tie otherwise. Courage is defined as strengths that deal with overcoming fear, manifesting themselves inwardly or outwardly as they are composed of cognitions, emotions, motivations and decisions. I am a very calculated risk taker, but I do take risks, and when I commit, I am all in regardless what fears I may have. Transcendence, meanwhile,  describes strengths that provide a broad sense of connection to something higher in meaning and purpose than ourselves. For me, it would be better described as something “greater” than ourselves, as in the world, society or public good, rather than “higher” that alludes to something divine. My lack of a divine component from disassociation of myself to such questions in the VIA assessment would explain why my Spirituality Character Strength ranks 22nd of 24. This despite being very spiritual about life meaning, purpose, my place in the world, etc. and 2 Transcendence Character Strengths as Signature Strengths.

 

More information on my Signature Strength

This section gathers information for each of my Signature Strengths into one place so it will be easier for me to reference when determining how to use my Signature Strengths for rewirements in the Science of Well-being course. For example, the final Week 1 rewirement is to use my Signature Strengths in new ways each day for a week. I will blog about that after I do it all, like a homework assignment rather than a plan first and report later. I doubt I will be able to think and plan it all out at once, and I need to get started on it today, happening on the exercise half way into Week 1 so it will have to be finished part way in Week 2. Then, I will likely keep it up to some extent for the rest of the course and after. This course and these rewirements are about changing habits, which could not count if you changed something for only one week (e.g. changing your drug habit for a week would be of little value). 🙂

 

Creativity

Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it. There are two essential components to Creativity- originality and adaptiveness. A creative individual generates ideas or behaviors that are novel or unusual and these make a positive contribution to the individual’s life or the lives of others.

Exercises for boosting Creativity include: *

  • When facing a problem, define the issue clearly and then practice divergent thinking (e.g. developing multiple solutions/outcomes rather than just one solution).
  • Set time aside each day for creative thinking or creative activities (such as: writing poems or using an everyday household object in a new way)

* I’ll probably do something different to be creative.  🙂

 

Curiosity

Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering. There are two key components to curious individuals: They are interested in exploring new ideas, activities and experiences, and they also have a strong desire to increase their own personal knowledge.

Exercises for boosting Curiosity include:

  • Consider an activity you dislike. Pay attention to 3 novel features of this activity while you do it.
  • Practice active curiosity and explore your current environment, paying attention to anything you may often ignore or take for granted.

 

Honesty

Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions. This strength involves accurately representing your internal states, intentions, and commitments, both publicly and privately. The strength of honesty is often linked to self-concordance- the extent to which your goals accurately represent your implicit interests and values. Honesty allows people to take responsibility for their feelings and behaviors, owning them, and reaping benefits by doing so.

Exercises for boosting Honesty include:

  • The next time you are asked for advice, give constructive, direct and authentic feedback.
  • Honor your commitments in all of your relationships. If you agree to do something or schedule a time to meet with someone, be reliable and follow through.

 

Hope

Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about. Optimism is closely linked with having a particular explanatory style (how we explain the causes of bad events). People using an optimistic explanatory style interpret events as external, unstable and specific. Those using a pessimistic explanatory style interpret events as internal, stable and global.

Exercises for boosting Hope include:

  • Write an internal movie that features one of your goals. Picture yourself overcoming the obstacles, developing pathways around and through problems, to reach your goal.

 

Humour

Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes. Humour involves the ability to make other people smile or laugh. It also means having a composed and cheerful view on adversity that allows an individual to see its light side and thereby sustain a good mood.

Exercises for boosting Humour include:

  • Think about a past event in which you used humor for your benefit and the benefit of others.
  • Write down the humor of your everyday life. Each day make a conscious effort to be aware of your sense of humor, others’ sense of humor, funny situations, and clever comments and record them in a daily journal.
  • Watch a funny sitcom/ movie or read a comic/funny blog daily.

 

Zest

Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated. Zest is a dynamic strengths that is directly related to physical and psychological wellness. This strength has the strongest ties to overall life satisfaction and a life of engagement.

Exercises to boost Zest include:

  • Improve your sleep hygiene by establishing regular sleep time, eating 3-4 hours before sleeping, avoiding doing any work in the bed, not taking caffeine late in the evening, etc. Notice changes in your energy level.
  • Do a physically rigorous activity (bike riding, running, sports singing, playing) that you always wanted to do but have not done yet.
  • Call old friend and reminisce good old times.

 

Judgment

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly. The strength of judgment is a corrective strength in that it counteracts faulty thinking, such as favoring your current views or favoring ideas that are considered the dominant view, and therefore giving less attention to the less-dominant view. It is the willingness to search actively for evidence against your favored beliefs, plans or goals and to weigh all of the evidence fairly when it is available.

Exercises to boost Judgment include:

  • Play devil’s advocate on an issue that you have strong opinions about.
  • Examine a past event that you are not happy with (not following through with a goal) and brainstorm ideas for other ways that you could have approached that event/activity.

 

My Signature Weaknesses?

The course hasn’t yet talked about the weakest Character “Strengths”, and I doubt it will because working on happiness in this course seems to be about utilizing the Character Strengths that mean the most to us (i.e. the Signature Strengths), from what I’ve seen and previewed so far. As someone who is generally concerned about dealing with my weaknesses to reduce my most vulnerable spots, I can’t still just ignore them. Aside from a listing below for quick reference, I will save them for another time so as not to “double” the current length of this post, and focus less on them as an outcome of this course that I will also blog more about later in what will amount to a paradigm shift in how I go about life! 🙂

 CATEGORY   “SIGNATURE  WEAKNESS”
 Wisdom  Love of Learning
 Temperance  Forgiveness
 Temperance  Humility
 Courage  Bravery
 Transcendence  Spirituality
 Justice  Teamwork
 Humanity  Love

 

To see more posts related to the Science of Well-being course, please click here.

And click here if you want to register for the Science of Well-being course, by Professor Laurie Santos, free on Coursera!

 

A little something demonstrating Zest, one of my Signature Strengths…

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