Engage with Your Life: How to Find and Use Your Strengths

What in your life makes you say, “this is the real me”?  What gives you energy, that you do when you are at your best and would do for its own sake? This is probably a strength for you. Research says that using it more can help you in a multitude of ways, including building confidence and resilience, producing positive emotions, and protecting against mental illness.  In a word, they can help you flourish.

Everyone has strengths. It’s just a matter of identifying and figuring out how to use them in daily life.  Using your strengths will set up a “virtuous cycle” of performing well, triggering positive emotions, and overcoming the natural negativity bias of your mind – which leads to more success, and the positive spiral upward continues.

Start discovering and activating your strengths with these tips:

  1. Make a List:  Begin writing a list of positive personal qualities (e.g. humility) and performance strengths/talents (e.g. organization) you can see in yourself.  Include things you’re naturally good at (e.g. cooking or showing empathy) and ask friends and family what they see as strengths in you.  For a rewarding, research-based boost, complete the free VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire at www.viasurvey.org.
  2. Reflect and Act: Every day for a week, consider one of your strengths and reflect on how it might help you at work, with a personal challenge, etc.  Write what your strength is and how you plan to use it that day.*  You might also imagine other ways to use your strengths that will help you be motivated and feel like your true, best self.  
  3. Look Forward: Spend some time each day writing about what your ideal future life (relationships, career, health, etc.) would look like. Include as much detail as possible. * Identify a few helpful goals then choose one.  Write through your thoughts about how one of your strengths can help you reach that goal and plan a few small steps in that direction, applying the chosen strength.    

Becoming familiar with your strengths can give you tools to overcome challenges, enhance the positives in life, and help you feel authentic and energized.  You already have strengths; now is the time to use them to engage more fully with your life!

* Based on the “Use Your Strengths” and “Best Possible Self” practices found at https://ggia.berkeley.edu.


Akhtar, M. (2018).  Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression. London, United Kingdom: Watkins Publishing.

Research by: Kayla Clawson Alva

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