If you enjoy that the internet can tell you more about who you are as a person than you already know, then checking out the VIA Institute on Character survey on strengths is a wonderful opportunity to enlighten yourself…about yourself.

(The survey can be found here: https://www.viacharacter.org/www/)

The surprisingly simple 120 question test analyzes these things we all have, called character strengths. In the VIA research, it is posited that each of us have 24 character strengths in varying degrees, of course, ranging from qualities like creativity, zest, forgiveness, gratitude, and honesty, for example.

Unlike other online surveys, the results from this test can be more than just a laugh by posting them on Facebook. It can give incredible insight as to who and where you are, along with who and where you want to be. (And give you some great ideas of what to say in job interviews!) But of course, you have to know how to use the information provided.

So, the basics:

  1. Everyone has character strengths,
  2. Everyone uses their strengths in unique ways, and
  3. After completing the test, your top strengths listed are considered your “signature strengths” and are most essential to who you are.

Research shows that using your signature strengths in novel ways is a positivity booster, improving both happiness and decreasing depression (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012). Something that all of us are striving for, I imagine!

My signature strengths are: kindness, judgment, love of learning, humanity and humour. Not a huge surprise to me, although I feel like judgment is hypocritical because I can rationally analyze a situation or others without judging but when it comes to myself- watch out!

As an experiment, I decided to test out some new ways of utilizing my signature strengths. What I have learned:

  1. Smiling at everyone you meet is somewhat tiring and facially painful at times, but it is actually rewarding to get a surprised smile in return.
  2. Identifying the last three actions for which I did not think through has led me to believe my caffeine consumption is truly a problem. (Especially when I have proclaimed my love for coffee in another blog! Busted!) But truly, poor judgment in drinking that much, at 4pm, and underestimating the necessity of regular sleep.
  3. Joining a local book club is harder than it sounds! I would love to do this. I have signed up (twice) on meetups.com to join but anxiety gets in the way of my love for learning, so this is on my 2016 bucket list. Unless, of course, there are online book clubs! Aha! Very sneaky way to get it in there but it meets the criteria 😉
  4. Giving compliments is the easiest way to open a conversation and let a person know you’re interested and appreciative of them. Just keep it simple and authentic.
  5. Finding a joke on the internet three times a week and emailing them to your friends is funny…but also implies that you live your life online finding the funniest jokes to send but hey, no judgment, right?!

Check out 340 ways to use YOUR character strengths:

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/52486/340_ways_to_use_character_strengths.pdf

About the Author

Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: tara_richardson913@hotmail.com Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.