Like everyone else during this crazy, scary time, I have discovered a few things about myself. I still wake up without an alarm at 7:00 and feel better if I start my day right then. I miss hugs from my daughters most of all (I still get to hug my husband). And I have relied on my character strengths to not only cope but hopefully also grow.

What are character strengths? The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is a self-assessment that provides a wealth of information to help you understand your core characteristics. Most personality tests focus on negative and neutral traits, but the VIA Survey focuses on our best qualities. It is regarded as a central tool of positive psychology and has been used in hundreds of research studies and taken by over 5 million people in over 190 countries resulting in better workplaces and better lives the world over. Take the free assessment here. You can read all about character strengths on the VIA website. My number one and two strongest character strengths are Curiosity and Love of Learning. Since I left my corporate job five years ago, I have been able to use these strengths daily. I love learning more about leadership, how we make sense of the world, how we can understand ourselves better. But I also love learning about random things that have no direct connection to anything I’m working on. So, since I’ve been walking at least an hour a day, I’ve started listening to more podcasts. I love Hidden Brain, Invisibilia, Scene on Radio, Code Switch, even Dolly Parton’s America. And my reading has been just as varied: everything from a history of the 1918 flu epidemic to a series of psychological thrillers.

One thing about strengths, though, is that they can be over-used. I was on a group ZOOM call with friends and people were asking, “What are you watching,” “What are you reading,” and I started to answer and one of my friends interrupted and said, “It can’t be educational. It has to be just for fun.” The thing is though that for me “education = fun.” I have to remember that not everyone is as interested in a documentary on how Hedy Lamarr helped invent radar technology as I am. Who knew?

After you take the survey, and find your top character strengths, think of ways you can use these strengths every day. You’ll have more energy, more engagement, and time will pass more quickly.


Facebook group: United in Strengths with the VIA Institute on Character