Are you teaching with your signature strengths?


I recently retook the VIA Character Strengths survey and my results listed creativity as the second highest. What is this survey I speak of, you ask? The website has tons of great information: It’s based on the research of Martin Seligman and his colleague who scoured the literature to determine 6 virtues and 24 corresponding characteristics that are universally valued, regardless of time, place and culture. The survey is a result of their research which allows the general public to discover their characters strengths. Everyone has all 24 characteristics, but to varying degrees. The difference relates to what is known as signature character strengths-these are the strengths that come naturally to a person, the strengths that feel as though you’ve connected with your true self, the strengths that give that extra sparkle to your eyes.

Wait, you’re still reading? Aren’t you curious to take the survey yourself? Go ahead. I won’t be offended.

When I retook the survey, I had an aha moment that I’m living out my signature strength of creativity. The last time I took the survey was over a year ago and creativity landed at 21. Signature strengths can evolve with time and it makes sense that creativity has found its way back to the top.

When I was 3, I had a creative career idea: I wanted to grow up to be a butterfly catcher. But what stuck was writing. I’ve always loved creative writing, be it assignments for school or writing for fun in my spare time. There’s something about writing that resonates with me, that has always resonated with me. I now have a career in which creative writing not only compliments what I do, but I’m surrounded by a community who also values writing, reflective practice and sharing ideas on the wonderful platform that is blogging.

And the creativity doesn’t stop there. I get to be creative in my lesson planning. Before I continue, I’m reminded that recently when I encountered people who haven’t seen me in a while, they share similar feedback: you’re glowing, you look rejuvenated, there’s something different about your body language. Interestingly, these are signs that you are observing somebody living their signature character strengths. I knew I’ve been happy and passionate and grateful about my profession but being able to make further sense of this state of flourishing is extra special. I had forgotten how important creativity is to me but it’s showing in everything I’m doing.

Just last week I went to Party City to purchase a bunch of party favors that double as wellness tools. In one of my classes, we have been talking about creating a safety box for clients as one of the steps on a crisis plan. We discussed the parallels of such comfort kits being relevant to navigators so I gathered mini bubble kits, coloring books with crayons, bouncy balls and mazes, Rubik’s Cubes, threw them in a box and brought it to class.

The students were intrigued by the mystery box. The criteria to choose items from the box was to share an item from the wellness plans I was guiding them through creating. Every single student shared, many of which who don’t regularly share. There was a lightness in the room as the glistening of rapport bounced from one student to the next. My virtual students have sent me their mailing addresses so that I can snail mail them their wellness toolbox starter kits.

While I was at Party City, I also purchased 30 mini gremlins for a positive psychology class this week. Stay tuned.


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