This piece is offered by my fellow wellness advocate Lisa MacKenzie:
Years ago, after going through a difficult time, I received a card from a friend on a cold snowy day. The card read:
“Perhaps strength doesn’t reside in never having been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places.”
I found the card last week as I was sorting through a box of papers and began thinking about the word strength. Reflecting on getting stronger in the broken places, I thought first of a broken bone: once healed with a good callus, the bone is just as strong as before the break. I thought of a child, abandoned by a father, who grows to become a beautiful, loving mother. Of an old woman, left alone in a rundown trailer, who wakes each morning and thanks God for another day to work in her garden. You know people like this. Perhaps you, too, have found the courage to grow strong in the broken places.
So how do we find that strength — not only in the broken places, but in the stress and strain of everyday life? How do we identify our personal strengths when we are so used to finding our faults instead?
As a program, Spirited Life is interested in the field of positive psychology, resilience, and what it means to flourish. Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. We’ve been using some of the tools found on Authentic Happiness, the homepage of Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology. One of the areas that Seligman looks at is character strengths. He has created multiple surveys, all of which are free — they just require creating a login. If you want to evaluate your own strengths go to the following website:
- In the blue menu bar at the top of the page, click the “Register” link. When the Registration page appears, go to “Free Registration,” enter your name and email address, then create a password.
- After you register, log in to the site and the “Authentic Happiness Testing Center” page will appear.
- Under “Engagement Questionnaires,” go to “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” and choose “Take Test.”
Regardless of whether you use these tools, perhaps you’ll take some time this Advent season to think about your strength and courage. Write your thoughts and your story down. Consider it an early Christmas gift to yourself.
(Image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr/Creative Commons)