I would like to begin this blog with a story. There is a legend saying that the best teacher of how to live life is death. On your deathbed you will be visited by ghosts. These are the ghosts of your dreams, abilitys and talents, given to you by life. But if you never acted on that idea, never worked on those skills, never used your voice; then the ghosts will say: “We came to you and only you could have given us life. Now we must die with you, forever.”
Les Brown, who originally wrote about this legend, says: the only way to avoid this situation is to find the purpose of your life. Well, how can we do that? How can one use his strenghts, if he doesn´t know them? First of all you have to ask yourself: What are my natural talents? What is something I enjoy doing? What is something I can´t shut up about, I have to read, write and talk about? By asking those questions you will get closer and closer to your mission.
Because each one of us probably has a whole lot of different strenghts, it is important to discover your key- or also called signature strenghts. Signature strengths are those that resonate most strongly with you. Knowing your own strengths allows you to build on them and to achieve a happier and more fulfilled life. Researchers (from National Geographic) have codified strengths into six broad categories:
Wisdom and knowledge- including creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning.
Courage- including honesty and authenticity, bravery, willpower and grit.
Humanity- including kindness, love, social intellegence and universalism: apprecation, tolerance and protection of all people and of nature (it is found that left leaning citizens all around the world are more likely to value universalism).
Justice- including fairness, leadership and teamwork.
Temperance- including forgiveness, modesty, prudence and self-regulation.
Transcendence- including gratitude, hope, humor and religiousness/ spirituality.
In every human character a constellation of strengths can be identified in a lesser or greater degree. For example if you say: I love to go to art galleries and concerts, to learn something simply for the sake of learning. I rearrange my living space weekly and like to try out new foods just for the craic. Maybe you even have an artistic job? If this is very much like you, you score high on openness scales and are receptive to new ideas. Your signature strength is wisdom and knowledge (which by the way is correlated with more completed years of education and intellect). After you identified your key strengths, you can focus on using them to reach your goals.
Your goals. You may tell yourself that you truly want that promotion or to be closer to your family- but do you really? Striving for a goal out of guilt is a 100% recipe for failure and stress. Being conflicted between your strivings and your true values leads to depression. You are less likely to achieve your goals and instead you worry about them. You better ask yourself whether you really feel ownership of your own goals!
All in all to live your life to the fullest, you got to ask yourself this question: If you had 365 days to do something and whatever you choose you were guaranteed to succeed in it… What would you do? Chances are that is what you should be doing right now.