Using My Signature Strengths (Science of Well-being Course Week 1 Optional Rewirements)

The Science of Well-being course had an optional rewirement assignment of using one’s Signature Strengths each day for the week. From my identification and analysis of MY Signature Strengths, along with notes on how to boost these strengths, and a little time to think about how I’d go about it, here’s my report on what I did.

 

Judgment

The suggestion to boost this Signature Strength was to examine a past event that you are not happy with and brainstorm ideas for other ways that you could have approached that event/activity. In the extremely rare occasion in Nova Scotia where a Caucasian woman showed interest in me as a potential partner, almost a decade ago now, I passed up without even giving it a chance, even though she was a fairly attractive prospect. She just had too many things “settled” that I was pretty certain I was going to be the one making all the big changes between us if a relationship were going to work out.

  • She ran her own business, which meant tons of work hours that I wouldn’t end up leaving all to her should we have been life partners, but that was going to leave me with little time, never mind not as much time for both of us in a relationship that I’d like to have in one.
  • She had a business partner who was going to be influencing a lot of business decisions that would impact our lives if we ended up, decisions I might well not have a say in.
  • She might have been a bit loss for a regular job without the business so giving that up was not going to be an option, nor should it be considering the business was doing well, generally, for some years now.
  • She had just bought a pretty decent sized house for herself way on the outskirts of the city, technically another city aside from city council of the greater area of these little cities. I lived downtown with a short walk to work in an apartment and it was going to be complicated to figure out common living arrangements should things get that far.

What you notice in all of what I said, though, was that I was looking ahead way too far at all the potential problems and theorizing how they might affect the potential in a relationship should it have even turned out. Even if I would have been right, and I feel I would have been seeing her situation with her partner now that suits his life far better than it would have suited mine, what I should have done was at least just given it the chance in case it might have been workable. I have a lot of people skills to handle difficult situations like breaking up with minimal negative impact if I needed to use it, but I also worry about seeming like a jerk if I could have foreseen things that ended up happening. I also don’t believe in that it’s better to have loved and lost, rather than never having been loved at all. True love may be priceless, but less than true love that result in break-ups can often have a bigger price than what it was worth. But life lesson learned for next time, should there be one as the dating pool would get smaller for me with age, to remember my #1 philosophy in life – the best thing you can give someone, including yourself, is a chance. I doubled failed in that instance, neither giving her nor myself the chance. 😦

Even bigger than this exercise, later in the week, I had an idea to make a fundamental attitude shift in my life to live on exploiting my Signature Strengths rather than covering for my “Signature Weaknesses”. I analyzed it and thought about it, then committed to it!

 

Hope

From the second example for using my Judgment Signature Strength, in the blog post linked, I basically visualized how I was going to make that fundamental shift, albeit without all the details, but enough of a strategy to be able to go ahead with confidence. That visualization, then documentation in the blog post, was similar to the suggested exercise to boost my Hope Signature Strength – write an internal movie that features one of your goals, picturing yourself overcoming the obstacles, developing pathways around and through problems, to reach your goal.

 

Zest

The suggested way to boost this was easy enough. 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. I created an “alarm” to start prepping for bed and I will keep this habit! I don’t usually have problems with energy level in terms of having enough. I might have to dig a little deeper some days than others if I don’t get enough sleep, being a night owl who gets his best work done then, and working at 8 AM. However, as someone who has ran 31 marathons, digging a little deeper for work, usually after lunch that might be due to a big lunch, to get through a work afternoon is hardly a challenge.

I am not following through on that bed-time “alarm” tonight in blogging this past 1 AM on the Saturday morning after the Good Friday holiday that saw me sleep in. 🙂

 

Humour

For this, instead of the exercises to think about when I used humour for the benefit of others, or noting the humour in my life, I had the chance to hear some colleagues tell stories they thought were humorous about me… of the kind that was humour gone wrong, rather than complimentary or ego boosting of how funny they thought I were. I had said my sense of humour sometimes got me into trouble, though some of the stories weren’t about my sense of humour, sadly, just “bad” things I didn’t realize I was doing in the moment. They were good for learning to continually fine-tune my sense of humour that will always need refinement as it continually developed in ways I sometimes can’t check. Regardless, the stories weren’t long, but to have the context so they’d be funny was, so I’ll opt out of writing it all out here. Just going to note I did my homework for this Signature Strength, and that I did it in this manner.

 

Curiosity

It was suggested that I could consider an activity I disliked, and pay attention to 3 novel features of this activity while I did it. Picking an activity was actually hard because I don’t do many things I dislike in life! Anything I might have disliked that I’ve routinely done, I’ve learned to no longer dislike them in some way. For example, I listen to new music while washing dishes, and listen to Freakonomics podcast while ironing. After thinking about it, I realized there was something work related, but not that pertinent to my job, that I actually disliked considering how much I love my current job. That was to watch political sittings in action, with all the politicking back and forth rather than a more rational debate that politics everywhere desperately need. The provincial legislature was sitting and I had the chance to go after hours to observe it in person, not just see it on YouTube Live online!

So what did I observe sitting through about 3 hours of Budget Estimates debate?

  1. Outside of those few politicians most engaged in the debate, about half of the rest were either working on something else (which is fine), and the other half was just outright disrespectful! Some didn’t turn their phones off, allowed it to go on pinging, then pretended it was either someone else or was surprised it was theirs when they had to be formally asked to turn off their phones! Some might not have actually realized it was theirs, to be fair, given the way they were just bantering among each other despite a formal debate going on, sometimes also needing to be addressed! These bantering groups regularly broke and reformed with different members in different locations of the floor, when there was the option to leave the floor to other chambers. Apparently, there was a lot more going on than the camera generally zoomed into the active speakers showed! The verbal politics were just a share of the total politicking, apparently.
    .
  2. There are many ways to use up time while “on the record”, knowing there are set time limits for everything, to minimize the number of questions asked and/or avoid answering the question. I can give a pretty good workshop on the matter now. Some sessions and/or politicians seem to be more opportunistic for this than others.
    .
  3. Security did their job to keep people from taking pictures from the gallery overlooking for the floor where debate was happening, meaning people were also ignorant of the rules that aren’t made clear where it needs to be (e.g. tell people, as they go through checks or at the door, more visible signs, signs on the rails or backs of rows that would be directly in the face of the people taking the pictures). However, security also didn’t know technology to enforce what they needed to enforce. They came to ask people to delete the pictures, and watched then trash it on their phones, but then walk away not realizing people could recover those photos with a few taps! As for why no pictures despite the broadcast of the debate on the floor? Refer to point 1 about what goes on outside of camera view featuring the active speaker for the most part. There would have been some very unflattering and public relations nightmare sort of pictures those nights I attended from what I have in my memory, I can tell you that!

 

Honesty

I was honest in writing out the stories for my Judgment and Curiosity homework. The former was pretty personal with the potential relationship passed up. The latter might not be liked by some who thinks all work related matter should be kept out of social media. I’ll be honest with them on that, too, that they should avoid generalizations on views like that cause it looks worse on them than anybody they’re accusing. 😉

 

Creativity

I boosted my creativity in several ways this past week:

  • I set time aside each day for creative thinking, and now, I have even more art, sewing, data visualization, and writing projects for things to do which I don’t have time for! 🙂
  • I changed how I cooked in several ways that will be lasting, with benefits to my cooking and meals made. Some were simple like draining water from pasta with a strainer instead of the pot lid I have that allowed that. I bought the pot with the lid and just never questioned to drain the content with a strainer that is much faster and easier to clean, not to mention minimize food stuck on it compared to the lid! Others took a little more investment, like a new medium sized wok I didn’t have to put away, and take out, each time I made stir-fry, which was a barrier to me making more stir-fry meals (of the healthy kind). The big wok I had also did not fitting entirely in the sink to clean easily, spreading the grease or cooking oil to other things in the sink and making it all that much more tedious to clean.
  • The bed time “alarm” was also a product of those creative thinking times.

 

So those were my homework activities with the rewirements that were my Signature Strengths. I won’t be able to do this every night for the weeks going forward. However, I will focus more on working them into some activities I have, or plan activities to use them more frequently than I normally do, upon analysis of how often I generally used those Signature Strengths.

 

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!

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