#meaning

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Got meaning?

What are the things in our lives that give it meaning? Take a few moments to reflect and write down what is meaningful. When we can take time to reflect, it gives us an opportunity to appreciate what is already fueling meaning for us. It also reminds us that we may need to slow things down a bit so that we can enjoy the blur of meaning that is currently whizzing by us.

Over the last six weeks we’ve been practicing six of the seven happiness habits:

  1. Mindfulness – using a nonjudgmental awareness and being present as we move through our day.
  2. Gratitude – we’ve been counting our blessings and focusing our attention and thought on the positive aspects of our lives.
  3. Physical wellness – exercising and eating right to provide an instant boost to our happiness.
  4. Altruism – by practicing random acts of kindness, volunteering, and donating money to help others in need we are increasing endorphins which make us feel good.
  5. Authentic and vulnerable – we have the courage to be our true and authentic self so that we can open the door vulnerability and forgiveness – thereby deepening our relationships.
  6. Social connection – Connection is our ability to forge meaningful authentic relationships with others. It is the essences of human experience and it gives meaning to our lives; it is also the anchor to our relationships.

Through our practicing of these happiness habits, life’s meaning should already be increasing. When we find a greater sense of meaning and purpose, it allows us to experience and enjoy life more fully.

“Happiness is a set of skills that we need to learn and practice so that we can become fluent in happiness.” – Christine Carter.

We all have different interpretations of what creates, develops, and enhances meaning in our lives. Unfortunately, we sometimes loose sight of these and get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Was your meaning list all that you wanted it to be? If you said “yes,” you are way ahead of the curve! If you said “a little bit” or “no,” keep reading.

There is a fairly simple step to finding more meaning in our lives. Are you sitting down? Here it goes…..meaning is a function of our own perception and reaction. We can increase meaning by observing the cause and effects of our feelings and behavior and then to use that knowledge to guide our future thoughts and actions. Hum….that sounds like self-awareness. Yup, it is! Meaning is created through our own interpretations and reactions.

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The seventh happiness habit also includes a review of our natural strengths.  We covered strengths in a previous post. As a reminder click here.

The final step of habit seven relates to success.  As we discovered with meaning, success is also subjective.  Rather than read about my take on success,  take three minutes to watch the 8 components to success according to Richard St. John’s from his TED Talk. I promise, it is well worth it.

Discover Your Strengths!

images-4Our society doesn’t teach us to focus on our unique and individual strengths, instead it tells us to work hard on our weaknesses. When we were children our teachers, and thus our parents, focused on our weaknesses. Most of us were told at one time to read more, practice writing, learn multiplication, don’t daydream, etc…..fill in the missing skill that you were told by your teacher or parent.

We were told that we must work hard and to focus our primary attention to turn a weakness into a strength. We’ve spent our lives trying to repair flaws, while our natural strengths lie dormant and neglected. This madness needs to stop!

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I’d like to challenge our life long focus on our weaknesses and shift our focus instead to strengths. When something is a true weakness, even with laser like focus, determination, and hard work, it will never turn into a strength. Yes, we will make improvements to a weakness but it will never become a strength. Why? Because a weakness is not a natural talent.

“Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.”                             Marcus Buckingham

Years ago I read a couple of books that helped me to shift my paradigm from a life long focus, and unsuccessful improvements to my weaknesses, to one where I understood, focused on, and practiced my strengths. Both books were co-authored by Marcus Buckingham; the first book is titled: First Break All the Rules – What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently.  I’m not going to review this book with in this post but for those who are managers or leaders I highly recommend it!

The second book, Now, Discover Your Strengths is based on over two million interviews and 25 years of research to identify the most prevalent of human strengths. The research produced StrengthsFinder which introduces us to 34 dominant themes.

34 Signature Themes

When you purchase the book Now, Discover Your Strengths it comes with an access code to the online StrengthsFinder assessment. The assessment is easy to use and the questions will uncover your top five signature strengths.  The results will also provide you with ideas for action on each of your top five strengths so that you know how to focus on them and to manage around your weaknesses.

By the way, you don’t have to purchase the book to obtain a code. One can be purchased here for only $9.99. However, the book will demonstrate and show you how to leverage your top five strengths for powerful results at three levels: 1) your own development, 2) your success as a leader or manager, and 3) the organization you work for.

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow in their capabilities.”Author unknown. 

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I have suggested to many friends and co-workers to take the StrengthsFinder assessment and every time I hear these types of statements: “Wow!!!! How did they do that? How did they hit the nail on the head with what I like to do and who I am?”  It is almost eery how well the assessment captures your unique natural talents.

So that you get an idea of how the StrenghtFinders assessment can be useful, here are my top five strengths:

  1. Developer – people with this strength recognize and cultivate the potential in others.
  2. Arranger – people with this strength are organized and like to figure out how the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
  3. Responsibility – people with this strength take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  4. Empathy – people with this strength can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others lives or situations.
  5. Relator – people with this strength enjoy close relationships with others. They develop deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made; for what’s a sundial in the shade?”Benjamin Franklin.