#HappyFacts: Know Thy Strengths

Each week, Live Happy Radio presents #HappyFacts designed to enlighten, educate and entertain you. This week, in honor of Character Day on Sept. 13, we’re talking about character strengths.

Know thy strengths

As you may know, character strengths are qualities like bravery, creativity, kindness, humility and perseverance that affect the way you think, feel and behave. Learning your character strengths can help you understand yourself better, but it also can help you identify areas in your life that you’d like to improve.

Today, character strengths are being used in the classroom, workplace and in the home to help improve relationships. They can help us in many different areas of our lives, so this week, the Live Happy team looks at some of the ways character strengths are valuable to us.

Kid-tested, parent-approved

If you’re a parent, you would most likely welcome a secret way to improve the effectiveness of your actions. Learning your child’s character strengths (in addition to knowing your own) is a powerful tool for knowing what will motivate and encourage them to take proper action or make the right decision.

According to Lea Waters, Ph.D., author of The Strength Switch, a strength-based approach to parenting allows you to focus on what’s right with your child instead of seeing what isn’t working very well. By noting what is working, you can help bolster your child’s optimism, resilience and sense of achievement while at the same time enhancing self-esteem and confidence—making for a happier child.

And, as we know, happier kids = happier parents. Especially if they’re teenagers.

Thank more, stress less

If you have to pick one character strength to get you through stressful times, try gratitude.

Gratitude—the ability to recognize and respond positively to the things that happen in our lives—has been studied from many different aspects. Current research shows that practicing the character strength of gratitude can help change the way we react to stressful situations and make them easier to navigate and endure.

What’s even better is that you get benefits from gratitude in good times, too, with increased positive emotions, better relationships and more satisfaction with your job and your life. And, when you’re thankful, you’re also more motivated to help others—which leads to a “helper’s high” and psychological flourishing. That creates what’s known as an “upward spiral”—which has such side effects as increased happiness and well-being.

Strengths, noted

What good are character strengths in the workplace? Well, they gave us the Post-it Note.

3M is known for its innovative “15 percent time” program, which encourages its engineers and scientists to spend up to 15 percent of their time working on their own ideas. By allowing employees to apply their strengths to projects that they are excited about, the company fosters the strength of creativity and nurtures their passion.

And, in 1974, the company received confirmation of the value of their program when engineer Art Fry used his 15 percent time to develop the Post-it Note, which remains one of the company’s best-selling products of all time.

What character strength do you most value in your life, and why? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 

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