By Mary Jaksch
Do you find life exhausting and frustrating? Or is it easy and exhilarating? The difference between the two experiences may hinge on something simple: whether or not your life is aligned to your signature strengths.
Signature strengths are the things we like doing and are good at. For example, I love learning; it excites me!
We find more happiness and satisfaction in our life if it is aligned with our signature strengths.
Imagine for a moment that your top signature strength was curiosity. You would be interested in how things work and would happily spend hours tinkering in a shed, taking things apart and putting them together again. What kind of job would make you happy? Maybe being an inventor, or a repair-person. You would happily pour over the bit that doesn’t function, forget about lunch, and wonder, “Why doesn’t the bl..dy thing work?”
But put you in a highly constrained job as a store manager or as a factory worker at a conveyor belt and you would be unhappy and unfulfilled.
In the following, you’ll find Martin Seligman’s 24 signature strengths. When you consider the various signature strengths, take note of the ones where you immediately think, ‘Yep, that’s me!’.
I’ll tell you at the end of this post which are my signature strengths (as well as my signature weaknesses…)
Which description in the following list fits the real You?
1. Love of Learning
You love learning new things, whether you are in a class or on your own. You find opportunities to learn wherever you go and what ever you do.
You don’t shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if you encounter opposition and act on convictions even if they are unpopular.
3. Vitality (zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy)
You approach life with zest, enthusiasm, and energy – For you, life is an adventure.
You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included.
5. Appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation)
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and skilled performance in all domains of life.
6. Humor (playfulness)
You like to laugh and tease. You try to see the light side of all situations.
7. Creativity (originality, ingenuity)
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
8. Curiosity (interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience)
You take an interest in all of ongoing experience for its own sake. You find subjects and topics fascinating, and love exploring and discovering.
9. Open-mindedness (judgment, critical thinking)
You tend to think things through and examine them from all sides. You don’t jump to conclusions and are able to change your mind in light of evidence.
10. Perspective (wisdom)
You are able to provide wise counsel to others. You have ways of looking at the world that make sense to yourself and to other people.
11. Persistence (perseverance, industriousness)
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter what the project is, you get it done in time.
12. Integrity [authenticity, honesty]
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way.
You value close relations with others. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.
14. Kindness (generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”)
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favour.
15. Social Intelligence (emotional intelligence, personal intelligence)
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.
Treating all people fairly is one of your most important principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people.
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. You always take the time to express your thanks.
18. Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.
19. Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe.
20. Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.
You regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person.
22. Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate.
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special.
You are a careful person. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.
These are all the 24 signature strengths according to Martin Seligman. You can take the signature strengths test here. (It’s a free online test but takes some time to do)
My top strengths are ‘Curiosity and interest in the world’,‘Love of learning’, and ‘Zest, enthusiasm, and energy’. I rate low on ‘Caution, prudence, and discretion’, ‘Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty’, and ‘Modesty and humility’.
I think my life is well oriented towards my signature strengths. For sure that’s one reason I’m happy and content. Just imagine how unhappy I would be if I built my life around my signature weaknesses and was a politician or an accountant!
How about you?
What are your signature strengths and weaknesses?
Is your life aligned with your strengths?
If not, what would you need to change?
You might like to check out the following links:
- Secrets of Wellbeing Series — Part 1: Authentic Happiness
- Secrets of Wellbeing Series – Part 3: Future Happiness? Why We get it so Wrong.
- Authentic Happiness Coaching Newsletters (each issue focuses on one signature strength)
- Online Signature Strengths Test
- Beyond Authentic Happiness – 10 Reasons to Doubt Seligman