We at CWW are blessed with a very specific signature strength-Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. One might assume that everyone is endowed with this quality. And yes most people do have visual preferences-evident in the colors they choose to paint their rooms, the way they arrange their living space, the particular flair they have in their style of clothing, the people they choose as their mates, etc. They might also be appreciative of “excellence”-the outstanding contributions others make to the world.
If these qualities are things that you feel are essential to who you are and how you see things, of you at your core, then you might also have ‘appreciation of beauty and excellence’ as one of your signature strengths. As artists, Gioia and I strongly identify with this attribute.
The pleasure that we get from aesthetic experiences certainly explains why we do the work we do-being art therapists. Not surprisingly, we also share the strength of humanity-a desire to connect with and help others. For example, Gioia and I will often have the experience when we are doing art work with others of falling in love with those artists and their artwork (whether it’s in a workshop or just sitting at the kitchen table with family, such as when my sister, Jenny, made this lovely little mandala after dinner one night).
Silly as it sounds, that’s what it feels like! Like being smitten–bitten by the beauty bug! Our eyes sparkle with delight as we are overtaken by the idiosyncratic and charming imagery that we behold–playful creatures, bright suns, whimsical landscapes, odd and interesting designs, etc… And then our hearts are filled with almost overwhelming feelings of appreciation and endearment.
Sappy, yes, so very sappy. But so very true. Fortunately, our appreciation for beauty and excellence also manifests itself as an enjoyment of others and their strengths. When we run workshops on strengths, we have such fun watching people blossom-there’s a way that when people recognize what they excel in, it also makes them appreciate the ways that other people do as well (as one of our favorite positive psychologists identified-you become a Strengths Spotter). Somehow it shifts what might become an indulgent self-absorbed interlude to an inclusive celebration of self-worth and the worth of others.
You might also enjoy a jaunt into the world of strengths. If you go to the Authentic Happiness website and take the Values in Action Survey (VIA) in the questionnaires section you’ll get a look at qualities that are likely your signature strengths. You have to sign up with the website , but it’s free and they don’t forward your info to anyone else. When you take the VIA, see if you can spot some of qualities that strongly reflect other people in your life.
If you’re really curious, get some of the people in your life to take the VIA and compare their results with yours. It can be really interesting and often explains how you approach things differently.
With appreciation and love, Rebecca and Gioia
Think about your signature strengths-qualities that are core to who you are as a person. Go here to the Authentic Happiness website if you want to take the VIA Strengths Inventory. Make artwork of symbols (shapes, colors, marks or images) that represent each of those strengths together. Have someone close to you do the same thing and compare your lists and your images. Share them with us on our facebook page.