Key Point: Challenge yourself to find flow through your natural signature strengths. The intersection between what you’re good at, like to do, and what brings value to others is the sweet spot of contentment and some might even say, the formula to happiness. When you’re in that place, you may find what psychologists and other scientists often describe as “flow.” Flow is hard to describe, but we know it when we experience it. It’s those occasions when we are so connected to what we are doing that time flies. Despite the focus and concentration, we feel alive and energized. Whatever it is that allows us to feel this way, it is important to find the route to make it happen more often. This takes presence and self-awareness. It also requires some self-reflection to replicate and sustain it.
Do you know what a signature strength is? This is a term developed by the “father” of positive psychology, University of Pennsylvania professor, Dr. Martin Seligman. He and a team of researchers catalogued the 24 cross-cultural character strengths that most contribute to human flourishing, and developed a survey to identify what he refers to as an individual’s signature strengths. Seligman found that it is most fulfilling when we are using signature character strengths; traits that are deeply embedded in who we are. Each time we use signature strength, it is normally translated into a skill we’re good at, and we experience a burst of positivity… Ultimately, flow.
I was doing a little research on signature strengths and I found this blog… The following is an excerpt:
“I just took the official test, and three of my top strengths were:
1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence.
2. Forgiveness and mercy
3. Love of learning.
Back when I was a corporate lawyer (and often got out of bed experiencing an unpleasant cocktail of emotions), I wasn’t using any of my core strengths, except perhaps love of learning — but even that was directed toward learning things I didn’t much care about. I loved many of the incidentals of the job — my colleagues, the sweeping view from my office window, the steady salary — but these very important things still were not enough. I found myself living for vacations. Now, in contrast, I use my strengths most every day, and as a result I love to work. What are your core strengths, and are you using them consistently? It seems to me that this is as good a definition as any of living ‘the good life.'”
That blog was by now well known author Susan Cain, prior to publishing her New York Times best seller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. The evidence is clear: We are most likely to value a job, relationship, or volunteer activity that allows us to use our strengths regularly. And, one of the best ways of finding flow, and boosting happiness is to find new ways and new situations to use our signature strengths. So how do we do that?
- Make sure you know what you’re signature strengths are. They make you unique. While Seligman and team focus on 24 strengths, yours are in a combination and application that is distinctly personal. Take this free survey. You can invest more to find out additional information. (Please note I have no commercial connection to this site in any way).
- Do not believe that gain has to be associated with total pain. If what you’re doing is continuously painful, and up hill… Well, frankly, something is wrong. You are not in flow and you’re likely not spending most of your time using your signature strengths. Of course, most things worthwhile take work and energy but that’s different than distress. Find a way to spend most of your time leveraging your signature strengths. That doesn’t always mean changing jobs or careers, but it does involve applying your core strengths to what you’re doing.
- Remember to add in the element of “adds value to others” to the recipe. Applying your signature strengths will likely mean doing both what you’re naturally good at and hence like to do. This contributes to a sense of well-being. The intersection of adding value to others makes you more abundant and fortunately usually leads to putting “food on the table” in a very rewarding way.
FSV in The Triangle,