Tag Archives: character strengths

A new way to think about creativity

In this excellent TED talk Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, questions the stereotype of the creative genius as some sort of tortured soul with mental health problems.  Elizabeth talks honestly about the pressure of continuing to follow her passion for writing after achieving such success with Eat, Pray Love and explores how other creatives find their flow and inspiration either despite or because of success they have achieved.   Elizabeth praises the courage creative people have in just showing up every day and “doing their dance” whatever that dance may be. Despite the pressure to continue to succeed she has taught herself to show up and continue to do what she loves to do, ending her talk with this lovely ode to the creative process:

“Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyedRead the rest...

A world of possibilities

Do more of what makes you happy! - weckstation - Alles andere - Wandgestaltung - DaWanda


Doing more of what makes you happy seems like an obvious idea but how many of us actually take the time to ensure that we do find the time to do all the things we love? I recently decided to put this theory to the test by trying out some of the very sage advice from the Action for Happiness 10 Keys to Happier Living: Key No 5 Keep Learning New Things. The love of learning is one of my signature VIA strengths (if you don’t know your signature strengths you can test them for free here) and another signature strength is creativity.  Research has shown that using your signature strengths in new ways is a sure fire way of being happier and it is even better if you can find ways to use signature strengths in combination.  For me learning new creative skills is definitely something that makes me happy so I decided to try out a new skill by enrolling on an Annie Sloan paint workshop at Lavender Green in St Albans.


A world of possibilities: Annie Sloan –Read the rest...

I used to be invisible

Author David Zweig talking about his new book Invisibles on CBS News

This week I have been reading, with great interest, a new book by David Zweig entitled Invisibles.  This book is part of a recent raft of books emanating from America, such as Quiet by Susan Cain, Give and Take by Adam Grant and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek which advocate turning the volume down, giving to other people, putting others first and ending incessant self-promotion.   It’s an interesting and welcome trend which is aiming to reverse the view that only loud, brash celebrities who are famous for being famous (and ideally wealthy) can be successful and fulfilled.

The premise of David Zweig’s book Invisibles, is that there is a group of highly talented professionals who choose meaningful work over recognition.  By flying under the radar these individuals achieve greater well-being and job satisfaction than many who … Read the rest...

A Declaration of Courage – Part 3 Show your true colours

John Legend: “True Colours”

In part 3 of this series on courage we look at what courage is and what courage is not. Courage is more complicated than it initially appears and also differs from individual to individual. Something that constitutes an immense act of courage for one person may require no courage for another.  Sometimes courage is simply abut being willing to show your true colours.

Nelson Mandela gave this sage advice: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”   This quote teaches us about one of the great misconceptions about courageous people.  We assume that someone who is courageous does not feel fear in the way other people do. The fact is that we all experience fear but the courageous person chooses to tolerate their fear and take action anyway.


Willpower 101 – Part 2 Three willpower wonder drugs

In part 1 of this series on willpower we looked how children who were able to exercise self-control (or self-regulation to use the scientific term) when they took the marshmallow test were much more likely to be successful in later life.  The marshmallow test gave children the choice of having one marshmallow immediately or waiting for a period of time and getting two marshmallows.  We also looked at the importance of getting very clear about your values and of setting specific goals which are aligned with these values. So now that you have your shiny new goals at the ready what is the best way to ensure that you are successful at your will power challenges?  Here are three top willpower wonder drugs from the latest research in Kelly McGonical’s book Maximum Willpower to get you set on the track to success:

1. Get some exercise

How much is “some” you may ask? Kelly McGonical’s answer is how much are you willing to do? … Read the rest...

A Declaration of Courage – Part 2

I am continuing with my month of courage which is part part of a project I am working on for my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology.   Courage is one of the positive psychology interventions (PPIs) I am experimenting with to see how applying this strength can boost my wellbeing.

In researching courage I have learned a great deal from the book by Robert Biswas-Diener called The Courage QuotientRobert Biswas-Diener know as the “Indiana Jones of positive psychology” has travelled far and wide to countries such as Greenland, India, Kenya and Israel to investigate whether courage is a trait we are born with or a skill which can be learned.  He discovered that courage is a culturally desirable trait which can be both measured and learned.  In cultures in which a premium is placed on bravery, it is more likely that parents will focus on teaching their children how to be courageous. In comparison to parenting styles in other … Read the rest...

Willpower 101 – Part 1 The Marshmallow Test

The Marshmallow Test via Igniter Media

You may be wondering what willpower has to do with happiness.  Isn’t it just an exceptional strength that ultra-marathon runners and Olympians are born with, while other mere mortals have to contend with being born more weak-willed than we would like to be? You may be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and simply decide that willpower is just not something you were born to be good at.  (If you are not clear about your strengths one way to discover them is to use online tests such as the VIA survey or Gallup StrengthsFinder which are both very useful.) When you take the surveys you may find, like I did, that you score low on willpower (or self-regulation to use the scientific terminology).  Of the 24 values which the VIA survey measures, self-regulation came 23rd on my list. Another test which is a good indicator of self-control is the marshmallow test, created by researcher Walter Mischel, which… Read the rest...

A Declaration of Courage: Part 1

Newton Faulkner- Dream Catch Me

This week I had the pleasure of attending a Newton Faulkner concert at The Roundhouse in London. The concert was fantastic and it was such a joy to witness a musician in his prime, doing something he was born to do and appearing to be completely in flow. Newton poured himself a cup of tea from a red teapot between songs and we were left to speculate whether the content of the teapot actually was tea or whether it contained some kind of “Dutch courage”.  Newton appeared to be enjoying himself so much on stage that it would be surprising if he did need “Dutch courage” but it is impossible for an outsider to always know when an individual is performing an act of courage or not. Newton Faulkner sang many songs from his more recent albums but also sang his hit Dream Catch Me which contains the following lyrics:

“There’s a place I go,

When I’m alone,

Do anything I want,

Be anyone I want toRead the rest...

5 Characteristics Of Grit – How Many Do You Have?


TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

This excellent article from Forbes magazine by Margaret M. Perlis looks at the important topic of grit in detail.  It’s a long article so you may need grit to get through it, but it’s definitely worth a read.

Recently some close friends visited, both of whom have worked in education with adolescents for over 40 years. We were talking about students in general and when I asked what has changed with regards to the character of kids, in unison they said “grit” – or more specifically, lack thereof. There seems to be growing concern among teachers that kids these days are growing soft.

When I took a deeper dive, I found that what my friends have been observing in-the-field, researchers have been measuring in the lab. The role grit plays in success has become a topic du jour, spearheaded by Angela Duckworth, who was catapulted to the forefront of the field after delivering

Read the rest...

Is procrastination a positive or negative personality trait?

Last weekend I was participating in a CTI training course in London as part of my training to become a coach.  We were asked to look at an “issue” in our life which we could be coached on and I decided to look at procrastination as my issue as I have long held the belief that if only I could overcome my tendency to procrastinate on small administrative tasks, which somehow remain unfinished for months on end, I would somehow be happier.  I struggled all weekend with finding any solution that resonated with me and although I completed the training having made the commitment to tackle my ever increasing pile of petty cash receipts which needed sorting, I was left with the overriding feeling that no matter which perspective I took I was never going to fall in love with doing petty chores. I decided to designate one day a month as a Get It Done Day (in which I tackle all unfinished tasks head on for a limited period of time to get the pain over with) and… Read the rest...