Rebecca–Thankful for Home
In the face of all the end-of-the-year lists (Best of 2013, Worst of 2013, etc.), we’ve got a challenge for you! If you’ve gotten our newsletters before or you’ve attended one of our workshops, you know we are always touting the research from positive psychology on the benefits of gratitude.
We thought we’d playfully up the ante with the “Annabel Challenge.” One day Gioia’s 10 year-old daughter Annabel, instead of stopping at the standard “3 Blessings,” decided that she would list one hundred things for which she was grateful–which ran the gamut from the people in her life, to the snacks she was eating, to the birds flying by outside, to her hair clips.
As you review 2013, you might playfully jot down all of the things that went well for you and see if you can come up with 100 like Annabel! And if your well runs dry–100 things is a lot after all–jot down the things that went well for others in your life, that went well for people at your work and in your community, and even extrapolate to others in the world.
And how about hopes for 2014? Our plan for 2014 comes from the work of our mentor and coach, Robert Biswas-Diener and his colleagues, and that is to identify and develop the strengths that most energize and engage us.
If you’re not entirely sure what your core strengths are below is a list of questionnaires that can help identify them (some free and others not, but all very instructive and useful, such as the VIA which is free and identifies your signature strengths, and the Strengths Finder which costs a small fee but further differentiates between those strengths that deplete you and those that most engage you).
If you are hoping to make any changes in the new year, especially to address something that has been a challenge in the past (the old exercising more, eating better, etc…), coupling those changes with your strengths will make them much more likely to happen. For example, I plan to use my strengths of social intelligence to undertake the laborious task of organizing my office (in other words, I will charm someone into helping me!). Gioia is using her capacity to love and be loved to finish up her dissertation, using her passion for art therapy and art therapists to motivate her down the home stretch of her Ph.D. program.
We recommend adding a visual component-even just a sketch or a doodle to represent the things that come to your mind. Visualizing engages and promotes “prospection”, a very powerful ability which we humans have whereby the more we envision and articulate possibilities, the more we are able to create them in our lives.
Annabel showed off her strength of perseverance by writing her 100 blessings. Share your strengths below on our facebook page, particularly the strengths that energize you to take on new challenges in in 2014! Share with us here or on our Facebook page the strengths that energize you and that you plan on using more in 2014!
Click here for a great article by Robert Biswas-Diener, Todd Kashdan, and Gurpal Minhas that critically explores the research on strengths and offers guidelines for identifying and developing your strengths.
The Values in Action Survey
Available at the Authentic Happiness website Identifies your signature strengths. Free.
Available at the Strengths Profiler website identifies your energizing strengths, depleting strengths, learned behaviors and weaknesses. Costs about $30-40 dollars (converted from British pounds).
The Clifton Strengths Finder
The Clifton Strengths Finder
Great for identifying your strengths and those of others, especially in the workplace. Costs between $25-45.
For more on Prospection, read Martin Seligman’s groundbreaking article Navigating Into the Future or Driven by the Past.