Counselling Chronicle (13)
Focusing on Strengths
As a discipline, psychology is increasingly moving towards a greater focus on the strengths and virtues that allow a person to thrive. Combating a previous focus of psychology on deficits, weaknesses and illness, Positive Psychology asks what a person needs to lead a meaningful and fulfilled life. This issue of the Counselling is part of a three-part series focusing on Positive Psychology, and the ways in which we can implement Positive Psychology principles and findings in our everyday lives in order to flourish.
Positive Psychology encourages people to identify and work to their character strengths. As individuals, we all have a different constellation of things we are good at, and different personality and emotional characteristics. Our strengths tend to be in-born, and are the skills and traits that we are naturally drawn to and we feel energised when we use them. Being good at something does not necessarily mean it is a strength, it also needs to invigorate you and feel authentic.
Research shows us that by using, living and working in line with our strengths, people experience a range of positive outcomes:
· increased resilience and ability to problem-solve and overcome challenges
· improved relationships
· enhanced well-being
· increased experience of “meaning” in life
· higher levels of achievement and accomplishment
· increased levels of motivation, self-confidence and productivity
It is important to use your strengths in ways that are appropriate to, and fit well with, your life and your goals. An all-or-nothing approach is unlikely to be helpful across all life domains. For example, a person for whom intellect is a strength may miss out on important emotional and social life experiences if they exclusively focus on pursuits that fit with their intellectual strength. Instead, focus on the value and contextual importance of your strengths – use different strengths in different ways across all the areas of your life.
If you are curious about your own strengths and how you may want to implement them in your life, you could take a free survey at http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey
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