A while back I wrote a couple of blogs about the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and one of those strengths in particular, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. (See blog posts 1/19/10, “The Strength of Strengths” and 1/20/10, “Beauty and Excellence – Ignition”) I have been thinking a lot recently about another of my top five Signature Strengths (See: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx) which is “Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality”. For purposes of this entry, this strength is defined by the folks at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center as-“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.”
It is true; I do value originality and creativity (both in myself and in others) and constantly strive to envision new possibilities and perspectives. I think part of it is that I am inspired by the challenge of new ideas. I like it when something challenges me to think in a new way and I appreciate people’s ability to put things together in new and innovative ways. Convention has its usefulness, I am at times comforted by familiarity and the quiet ease it affords but for the most part I prefer the disquiet that a new idea affords. In actuality I guess I prefer a balanced mix – tradition is non-threatening, safe, easy and familiar while ingenuity is energizing and inspiring for me.
There most certainly is a value and a merit to each side of the coin and how one determines how much of each they need in their lives really depends on their own personal style, preference and needs. The main idea here being that the choice is individual and the most important piece here is about doing what is “true” for you. I have come to appreciate how valuable it is to work from our strengths whatever they may be. For me, this strength, “Creativity, Originality and Ingenuity – informs many things about my character and lifestyle, from the choices I make for recreation, to the people I seek out as friends, to how I dress, how I think and what inspires me. It is mine, I own it and I live it. But for you the these pieces may not factor significantly into your days. Your strengths may lie in your compassion for others, your zest for life or your courage. Each one of us has a different compliment and they are not truly fixed in time, but rather fluid with some rising to the top at some times in your life more than others.
When I work with clients, I always ask them to take the “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” located on the website listed above. It doesn’t take very long maybe 30 minutes, to answer all the questions and the results may (or may not) surprise you. All the same, knowing your strengths can be a valuable tool in creating the life you want – because the more aware you are of what they are, the more easily you can draw upon them in enhancing your life. So, if I may, I’d like to suggest that you go to the website and give it a whirl, if nothing else, it may be an affirming experience.