POSITIVE ME

Idea

Strengths are built-in capacities for certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Everyone has these capacities to one degree or another. Our particular pattern of strengths is part of what makes us unique.

When we play from our strengths, we're likely to feel more energetic and perform better than when trying to use a capacity that comes less naturally. For example, one person trying to influence a local condo board to do the right thing might have the strength to speak up forcefully and clearly at a general meeting despite the almost-universal fear of public speaking. Another person strong in team-building might feel uncomfortable speaking out in a meeting but could successfully build consensus among owners, and others to weigh the issue and come to a decision.

Positive emotions have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being in numerous scientific studies. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease, as people react to these feelings with raised blood pressure and stiffening of blood vessels. But it isn’t easy to maintain a healthy, positive emotional state.

Leveraging our strengths can help us accomplish many goals. Making our strengths work for us, especially when the task at hand is well-aligned with our personal values, can leave us feeling more competent and connected.

www.health.harvard.edu