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Increase Your Happiness: Use Your Strengths

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This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll look at in this series.

Let’s look at the other big component of happiness:  life satisfaction and meaning.

Image result for meaning of life

“The meaning of life is _______.”

Positive psychology believes that we’ll find our life’s purpose and be happier if we use our core strengths as much as possible.  And this is even more important than trying to improve ourselves and fix our weaknesses. The core strengths are in these areas:

  • wisdom and knowledge  (curiosity, learning, open mindedness)
  • courage (bravery, integrity)
  • love and humanity (kindness, love, equality)
  • justice (teamwork, leadership)
  • temperance (self control, humility)
  • spirituality (gratitude, faith, hope)

We can identify our core strengths by learning what gives us the most sense of purpose, what matches best with our values, what comes naturally to us, what others say are our true strengths.  Then our life’s meaning can come from using these strengths and values every day in our work, relationships and leisure.  Let’s look at some examples:

For some professions, it’s easy to see what kind of strengths could be used.  A doctor could use knowledge and humanity.  A teacher could use learning and kindness.  A yoga teacher could use temperance and spirituality.  However, if someone went into medicine but wasn’t much of a people person, trying to do clinical care might not match very well.  This person might make a better researcher.  A second point is that you don’t have to have a profession to be able to match your values to your work. There’s a front desk worker at my gym who is the friendliest, most personable person I know.  So that kind of job could be a wonderful way to express values such as open mindedness, kindness,  and hope.

So to be happiest and get the most satisfaction out of life, be sure your work, relationships and leisure match your strengths and values.  And, always be on the lookout for additional ways to use your strengths and values in these areas.

Your assignments:

  1. Take the Brief Strengths Test or the more comprehensive Survey of Character Strengths
  2. Take some time to identify what strengths you’re already using, as well as which ones you want to include more often and how specifically you could do this

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