Question: Strengths

A powerful idea from Martin Seligman’s excellent book, Authentic happiness: “Authentic happiness comes from identifying and cultivating your most fundamental strengths and using them every day in work, love, play, and parenting.”

Many of us fret endlessly about our mistakes, faults, and shortcomings. Yet the key to our happiness is using our god-given strengths regularly.

What are your strengths?

How can you create more opportunities to use your strengths this week?

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  • Reply Ron July 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Opportunities to use my strengths are more abundant when I look to serve others. I am happier, feel healthier and a much more pleasant husband, father and person. Just like muscles, as my strengths are challenged they become more defined and are even more useful to myself and others. My strengths will be used more this week as I serve others.

  • Reply Charmaine July 7, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I had a similar conversation with my daughter this week who does not see her strengths. Most of us are too much into self deprication. We focus too often on the strengths in others and want theirs. The scriptures say God will show us our weaknesses and help us make them strong. Will He also show us our strengths so we can make them stronger and more useful? I think this is a wonderful concept but as I think about my strengths I feel a bit uncomfortable about throwing them out there in fear that maybe they are not really that great or that useful to others or that maybe I am just a bit selfish and it keeps me from using my talents to help others. This idea is a wonderful challenge.

    • Reply admin October 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      The perfect formula is in section 46. When we recognize the Source of our gifts and use them to bless His children, they grow. And we rejoice in them. Only when God is a part of every step are gifts properly used.


  • Reply Jim July 8, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Understanding my strengths and finding their relevance has been something that I have struggled with all of my life.

    Without positive feedback from others, I think it is often very difficult to identify one’s strengths and gifts. I believe we can be of great service to others by noticing their strengths and letting them know what we perceive their strengths to be. Perhaps we will be accountable or at least have some remorse when we realize the opportunities we missed to help people in this way.

    • Reply Barbara July 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

      Jim, I have worked with Wally in developing some application exercises for a program he developed. Part of that program relates to identifying your strengths. Here are some possible ideas for you to consider.

      1. What are 20 things you love to do? Do those things give you any insight into your strengths?

      2. Wally mentioned Martin Seligman in his post. Dr. Seligman has developed an assessment tool called the VIA Signature Strength Questionnaire. It helps identify your top or “signature” strengths. You can take this survey at no cost at http://www.authentichappiness.org (It is in the blue section under Engagement Questionnaires)

      3. You mentioned that others haven’t been very proactive in giving you feedback on your strengths. Consider interviewing people who know you well and appreciate you. Ask them what they perceive your strengths to be.

      4. Think of times when you have been immersed in a challenging task that you enjoyed so much that you lost track of time. That is the state of “flow”. When have you been in the state of flow? Does that provide any insight into your strengths?

      Also, what would you consider your spiritual gifts to be? How do they contribute to your strengths? I think that sometimes people tend to be narrow in terms of thinking of spiritual gifts. Think broadly. Maybe you are an excellent listener and people trust you with their thoughts. Maybe you are a naturally optimistic person and you tend to lift others up. Maybe you tend to see everything through a lens of faith and can help others who do not have this gift to interpret their life experiences with the eye of faith. Maybe you know what it is like to experience trials and exhibit compassion towards those who are struggling. Etc.

      And then returning to the original question in the post, how can you create more opportunities to use your strengths this week? How can you spend more time in a state of flow? How can you use your strengths to help or serve others?

      • Reply Jim July 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm


        Thank you your questions and resources. I will have to give this more thought and will try the assessment that you reference.

        I wonder if I am more an exception as one that struggles to identify my strengths or if this is fairly common.

        I can only generalize, but I think we often just coast through life without giving a lot of thought to these things, and as a result, we probably miss many opportunities and much of life’s richness.

        While I can easily describe myself- the things that I like, my preferences, and even what I believe I do well- I’m not sure that this is necessarily the same as my strengths or gifts.

        It is also interesting to me that strengths/weaknesses often seem to be dependent on the context and on a person’s perception. For example, someone’s ability to analyze situations and to solve problems might be perceived by someone else as being slow or indecisive. In some cases, an analytical ability would be a great strength, and perhaps in others it could be more of a liability. The same could be said of other qualities.

      • Reply admin October 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm

        Beautifully said, Barbara!


  • Reply Claudia July 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I have a lovely friend who points out my strengths to me, even when I am being a bit self-deprecating, and I can’t tell you what a blessing this has been to me in my life. Hearing my strengths definitely helps me want to be more the person I can be.

    Acknowledging my strengths has also given me the courage to improve in areas that I am weak. No one is all strength or all weakness. Knowing this helps me to be more patient with myself and with others as we all learn. It’s quite a paradox, isn’t it? Who would have guessed that knowing our strengths can help us overcome our weaknesses? I know the natural man in me thinks I will progress much faster if I dwell on my (and others’) weaknesses, but the Lord knows better.

    I have tried to practice pointing out other people’s strengths to them whenever I can because I know what a blessing it has been to me in my life. Pointing out strengths helps us avoid discouragement even while we work with the Lord to become stronger disciples.

  • Reply Candleman July 11, 2009 at 9:40 am

    My strength lies in my weakness. Like Paul, I have a thorn in the flesh intended to keep me humble. When I am humble God makes me strong in whatever he assigns me to do.

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