Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

The Strength of Strengths January 19, 2010

Positive Psychology seems to have found its voice in popular culture. The branch of psychology founded by Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania which focuses on positive psychological emotions, personal strengths and personal health is getting a lot of airplay these days. And why not? For too long, the field of psychology has been fixated on dysfunction, mental illness and pathology and Seligman’s drive to look at the “up-side” is a refreshing and much-needed break that takes in a fuller, more complete picture of psychological experience.
In my opinion, one of the best things to come out of this branch of psychology is the classification of 24 specific character strengths. See: Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin E.P. Seligman. In this handbook and classification manual these two researchers set-out to define and classify strengths under a broader range of virtues which transcend various cultures and historical time periods. They are: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Under each of these virtues fall a number of personal strengths that are widely valued as positive traits.
I have found in my work as a coach, that having my clients take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths questionnaire is a useful tool in helping them to move forward with their goals. The survey under the Engagement Questionnaires header can be taken for free online at http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
Knowing what your personal strengths are and actively engaging them in your life is a powerful intervention. So go ahead, take a look it may take a few minutes, but it’s worth it. Maybe you will be surprised, maybe not, but aren’t you just a little bit curious to see what it says?

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One Response to “The Strength of Strengths”

  1. Ed Beckwith Says:

    Thanks, Lisa. I wasn’t aware of this particular field. I am so enjoying getting your posts in my morning email. I’m going to take the questionnaire– should be enlightening!


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