Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Giving Thanks November 23, 2014

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I am lucky, and yes, grateful that one of my signature strengths is: gratitude. For those of you who may not know what signature strengths are the term comes from the work of psychologists, Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson who identified and then quantified twenty-four Character Strengths that we all possess, that are consistent over time and across cultures and which we all value. The “VIA” or Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths, is the test that you can easily take if you are interested as it is available online at no cost. The survey will rank order the 24 Character Strengths that Peterson and Seligman identified, and highlight your “Top Five” Signature Strengths. The test, which I use regularly in my coaching practice, is a powerful tool for self-discovery, focusing on the positive and providing a vehicle for numerous applications which we can use to increase our sense of life satisfaction.

For more information or to take the test, go to:

So, gratitude is one of my top five. And while I would have to say that I am aware of the daily appearance of all of my strengths as I navigate my day to day life, gratitude is more like the lens through which I see everything. I notice the things I am grateful for all of the time; the deliciousness of a warm cup of coffee, the opportunity to work with all of my wonderful clients, having a comfortable home for myself and my boys, the color of the sky, the coziness of my bed, and on and on and on. It makes me humbled, it makes me feel blessed, it fosters respect, encourages me to keep working and when life’s challenges challenge me… it helps me to keep perspective and be more optimistic. I am in fact, grateful to be grateful, and it’s as simple as that.

So this year, as those of us here in “the States”, gather around dining room tables on Thursday to share a meal with friends and family we will all most likely take a moment to “give thanks”. We will reflect on our blessings and good fortune, and take some time to think about those who have been challenged by all manner of sacrifice and struggle. And collectively, our hearts will open a bit, the “good will meter” will register a little higher and a little more humanity will fill the space between us. And for that we should all be grateful.

My challenge to you this holiday season is to hold on to that perspective a bit: to look with kindness on one another, to treat each other with respect, to listen, to give and to allow yourself to receive and to be grateful for all of the big and small things that happen in our lives every day. There is so much to be grateful for, at the very least, we are still here, we are still breathing and that means we still have the chance to do great things, even of the smallest kind.


Happy Thanksgiving with Deep Gratitude –



Gratitude, Pure and Simple February 23, 2010

If you had asked me what role Gratitude would play in my life years ago I would likely have been stumped by the question. I don’t think I would have been able to imagine the powerful impact that it has on me. And though I likely would have been able to tell you what things in my life I was grateful for, I don’t know if I would have recognized its importance in the real and daily way that I have now grown accustomed to. As it turns out gratitude is one of my Top Five – VIA Signature Strengths, though I don’t know if it would have always ranked there. It is more than a feeling – it is a state of mind, an orientation toward the world and it is essential to helping me keep my life on the track I want to be on.

Life is not perfect, not even close but all the same when I take stock of my life, I have a lot to be grateful for. I think there is a tendency when things are hard for folks to focus on all of the various challenges, obstacles and disappointments that make up their lives. Sometimes the upsides can recede into the background, and unintentionally end up going unnoticed. But if we train ourselves to look for the positive after a while it becomes a self-perpetuating process.

A simple way to do this is to keep a “Gratitude Journal”. Just find a little pad or notebook in which each day you jot down “three things you are grateful for”. They don’t have to be momentous, they can be small observances. You can do it in the morning before you start your day, at night before you retire or throughout the day as you notice things. It may not sound like a big move – but you’d be surprised what a powerful impact it can have.

Putting your mind and heart in a place of gratitude is an incredibly healing experience. It quiets the mind, refreshes the soul and inspires the spirit. Go ahead, give it a try, there’s no downside here…

Most gratefully yours…


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
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?