What are your signature strengths?

signature strenghtsKnowing and following your strengths:

  • encourages insight and perspective in your life
  • makes one less sensitive to stress
  • generates optimism and resilience
  • provides a sense of direction
  • helps to develop confidence and self-esteem
  • generates a sense of vitality and energy
  • engenders a sense of happiness and fulfillment
  • helps achieve one’s goals
  • enables one to be more engaged at work and perform better.

Moreover, the development of certain strengths helps build resilience and buffers against some types of dysfunction and mental disorders. For example, optimism buffers against depression; sportive skills against substance abuse; work ethics and social skills against schizophrenia.


This process resulted in the identification of twenty-four character strengths, or mechanisms, that allow us to achieve virtues. So, strengths are organized into six such virtues that include the following:

Wisdom – this virtue incorporates strengths related to the acquisition and use of knowledge.

Courage – these strengths involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, whether external or internal.

Love, humanity – interpersonal strengths.

Justice – civic strengths.

Temperance – these strengths buffer us against excesses.

Transcendence – these strengths connect us to the larger universe.

VirtuesSignature powers
WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGECuriosity and interest in the world (being interested in a variety of subjects and experiences)
Love of learning (increasing knowledge for its own sake)
Perspective, wisdom (seeing the big picture, being considered wise)
Creativity, ingenuity, originality(finding new ways to do things,
having common sense)
Open-mindedness, critical thinking (being a rationa lthinker, being able to make good judgments)
COURAGEValour, bravery (making a stand, overcoming fear)• Persistence, perseverance,industry (finishing what wasstarted, not getting side tracked)

Integrity, authenticity, honesty(keeping promises, being genuine and open)

Zest, enthusiasm, vitality(living life to the full, having energy)

LOVE AND HUMANITYCapacity to love and be loved(valuing and having intimate loving relationships)• Kindness, generosity(helping others, showing empathy, caring)

Social intelligence, personal intelligence, emotional intelligence (sensing what other people feel, awareness of one’s own feelings, being a tease with others)

JUSTICECitizenship, teamwork, loyalty(working well in a group)• Leadership (organizing and motivating other people)

Fairness, equity (treating people equally, not discriminating on the basis ofyour own biases)

TEMPERANCESelf-control, self-regulation(controlling emotions,discipline)

Prudence, caution (avoiding danger, making careful choices)

Humility, modesty (awareness of one’s place in a larger universe)

Forgiveness, mercy (forgive and forget attitudes)

TRANSCENDENCEAppreciation of beauty and excellence (creating it and/orbeing inspired, elevated by it)• Spirituality, sense of purpose,faith, religiousness (having a

calling in life, developing coherent beliefs about the higher meaning)

Hope, optimism, future mindedness(seeing a glass ashalf-full, planning for the future)

Gratitude (thanking people,counting blessings)

Humour, playfulness (bringing smiles and laughter, working playfully)

One of the major goals of positive psychology is seen to be helping people to identify their signature strengths. Signature strengths are those that represent ‘the real you’, bringing a feeling of excitement when you discover and use them. A person excels in their signature strengths quickly, has a sense of yearning to put them into practice and feels invigorated and intrinsically motivated when using them. Once the signature strengths are discovered, they can be applied to areas such as work, relationships, play and parenting.

Tips for discovering and applying your strengths

Looking at the table above, which do you think your signature strengths are? You can find out just by giving yourself a score from 1 to 10 for each of the twenty four strengths. You are not rating how you would like to be, but how you think you are. Pick the strengths with the highest scores(either the top 5 or 6 strengths, or the ones above 8) and ask three more questions for each of them: ‘Is this the real me? Do I enjoy using it? Do I find it energizing and exciting?’ Once you have claimed ownership of your signature strengths, consider how you can apply them in all the important areas of your life.

References:

Ilona Boniwell, ”Positive Psychology in a Nutshell. The Science of Happiness”

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