Signature Strengths Exercise

Signature Strengths Exercise

To take the Signature Strengths Survey, click here.

Once you have your results, take your five highest strengths and ask yourself one at a time, Is this a signature strength?

A signature strength has the following attributes:

  • A sense of ownership and authenticity.  This is the real me
  • A feeling of excitement while displaying it, particularly at first
  • A rapid learning curve as the strength is first practiced
  • A sense of yearning to find new ways to use it
  • A feeling of inevitability in using the strength 
  • Invigoration rather than exhaustion while using the strength
  • The creation and pursuit of personal projects that revolve around it
  • Joy, zest, enthusiasm, even ecstasy while using it

The purpose of this exercise is to encourage you to own your signature strengths by finding new and more frequent uses for them. Set side a designate time this week when you will utilize one or more of your top five signature strengths in a new way either at work or in leisure. Create a clearly defined opportunity and time. For example:

  • If creativity is a signature strength, you might choose set aside time to take an art class or write a poem.
  • If perseverance is your strength, you might set aside time to start training for that marathon you always wanted to run.
  • If you claim kindness as a signature strength, you might choose to feed the homeless at a homeless shelter one evening.
  • If your strength is appreciation of beauty and excellence, you might look in your local paper for a new art exhibit that is showing that week.

After completing the new way of utilizing your strength, write about it. How did you feel before, during, and after the activity? Was the activity easy or challenging? Did time pass quickly? Did you lose your sense of self-consciousness? Will you repeat the exercise?

* Studies show this exercise increases happiness and lowers depression both three and six months later. Combined with the What-Went-Well Exercise this exercise, the benefits increase and last longer. Take Away: Keep doing this practice in your daily life. The longer you perform it is directly related to how long the changes in happiness last.

adopted from Flourish, Martin E.P. Seligman (Free Press 2012)