Dec 24, 2012

Strengths for the troubled

If you suffered a setback or a tragedy, how would you rebuild your life?

If rebuilding or recovering depended on your strengths, where would you look to find them?

A few years back, Victor Garcia, a Cincinnati Children's Hospital trauma surgeon, got fed up with seeing gun-shot children on his operating table.  He pledged to a mother who lost her child that he would lead an effort to stop the urban violence in Cincinnati. One result of his efforts is a community project called CoreChange.  I'm involved with one of the CoreChange project teams, called Strengths-Based Cincinnati. Our workgroup has been meeting every few weeks for the past ten months, looking at ways to identify strengths and put them into play, instead of wallowing in the negative energy that surrounds us.

One tool that many of us like is called the VIA Character Strengths survey. It's a positive psychology profile of personal characteristics that make people successful. I am not usually a fan of new-age style pop psych parlor games, but this one makes some sense. It offers a way past negativity, and demonstrates that everyone has strengths, even people facing tough circumstances. The VIA Institute says that this survey is the foundation of a positive approach to life.
A strengths- based approach to life:
  • Is honest (acknowledges problems, but doesn't get lost in them);
  • Is positive (focuses on what is best and good);
  • Is empowering (encourages and advances the individual);
  • Is energizing (uplifts and fuels the person);
  • Is connecting (brings the person closer to others, aiding in mutual connection).
The VIA process starts with an online survey. It takes a little under half an hour for most people, so the online system has you register so you can save your work. When you're done, you can pay for a fancy analysis or choose a free version of the results. The free version was what I chose. Take a look at your top five character strengths, and have a chat about them.

How do your top five character strengths play out in your life?

What can you do that takes advantage of your strengths?

Start the VIA Strengths survey here. .

Learn more about CoreChange.

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