Each of us has signature strengths – things we like doing and are good at. Discovering our signature strengths and using them in new ways can make us happier and healthier. Channeling our strengths can also help us achieve our goals and boost our feelings of competence.
The VIA Classification of Character Strengths is comprised of 24 universal character strengths that fall under six broad virtue categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Signature strengths refer to those character strengths that are most essential to who we are.
This month, Acknowledge Alliance helped teachers tap into their signature strengths. During a Professional Development session at Columbia Middle School, teachers were first asked to individually identify their top strength. They assembled a glass pebble art piece using their chosen strength icon. It was empowering for teachers to make their strength visible – when finished, they literally held their strength in the palm of their hand. Afterwards, they were asked to find others in the room with the same strength. As groups got together and shared their experiences, the whole room acknowledged each other’s strength in understanding, support and appreciation.
One of the takeaways from our teacher activity serves as a reminder that:
Connecting with your own strengths may help strengthen your connection with others too.
This Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to start practicing ways to use character strengths! Here are some ideas to cultivate the five strengths that are most connected with happiness:
Try a new cuisine and eat food of a different culture.
Do at least one outdoor activity weekly such as hiking, biking, brisk walking, or jogging.
Think of a time when you or someone close to you overcame a challenging obstacle and succeeded.
Count three things you're grateful for before going to bed every day.
Let someone know a strength you saw them use and how much you value it. Words of affirmation is a powerful love language.
What are your signature strengths? Get to know yourself better by taking the VIA Survey.