Positive Psychology, Strengths, and One Lucky Birthday Girl

“Individuals gain more when they build on their talents than when they make comparable efforts to improve their areas of weakness.”

In life, sadly, there are a great many things I will never be good at. Let’s be honest; I’m never going to be good at walking in heels, playing the piano, or dancing ballet. All these things I always wanted to be good at; some of these, like heels, I tried very hard to be good at. But alas, they will never be one of my top five strength themes. So why should I bother? I could walk for hours in heels, and all I would probably get is a bunch of blisters.

This past summer, I visited Toronto, Canada. While I was there, I went on a tour of a beverage company (it was free, and I got a free t-shirt for going….and yes, I will almost do anything for a free t-shirt). It was a small, local company that only had one flavor of drink. Their motto was: “Do one thing, really really well”. The company has only been around for a few years, and its founders decided to focus all energy into making one simple, perfect  product. I really admire this company; instead of discovering potential weaknesses of theirs (clear Pepsi?), they built on their small success.

Individual Strengths

I LOVE Strengths. True story. I think it is wonderful, and gets me completely. I definitely think all five of my strengths describe my personality, and talents. My strengths are: Input, Positivity, Includer, Belief, and Connectedness. Three of these are categorized under  “relationship building”.

As always, this made me think– this time, back to highschool. As a senior in my highschool, EVERYBODY suddenly wanted to know EVERYONE else’s business about majors, Universities, and the dreaded “rest of your life” question. People who never talked to me before were suddenly so interested in  my next four years. (I think this is because they want to make fun of you at your highschool reunion, when you end up being less successful than you originally had planned.) So, when people asked me what I was doing I would say “I’m not sure; I just know I want to work with people.” And that was the solid truth….I had no idea exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew I didn’t want to be alone doing it. To me, people and relationships matter. It’s literally what I live for; therefore, I wear my relationship building strengths proudly, and identify most with them.

Isn’t it ironic, how I’ve been talking about trying not to talk so much, and my top strengths is Input? Makes me think about–

Positive Psychology: Different ≠Difficult

I won’t claim to know a lot about positive psychology, despite the fact that it was on my last P102 exam. More or less, positive psychology looks at the world of psychology as a glass half full. Instead of theorizing about what causes/contributes to mental illness, positive psychology focuses around what causes/contributes to mental health and stability. Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of mental health, it focuses on strengths of mental health, etc.

Our brief talk about positive psychology made me think back to about a month ago, when the Leadership Team and myself went to the National Orientation Director Association(NODA) conference in Dearborn, Michigan. This conference allowed us to network with student leaders from all different Orientation programs in our region. We really got some great ideas– like post secret! (Also, we developed a friendship with Purdue.) Anyway, one girl we met there shared with us a team activity called “Different or Difficult?” In this activity, someone says a personality trait, and then the group has to decide if it is “different” or “difficult”. The underlying message is to find the importance in every personality;; even ones you originally may have thought were “difficult”.

I think “different” or “difficult” is a good mindset to have during Orientation. There are some days when parents, or students may be down right “difficult”. For example, if a parent really really wants to go into an advising appointment. Instead of categorizing them immediately as “difficult” think of them as different. Maybe this is there first child to college, and they are worried advising won’t work out. Their perspective coming to IU may be completely “different” than what you had experienced. I think it is helpful to keep that in mind, especially during the very stressful days. Like positive psych, it can help you focus on the glass half full.

On a Personal Note–

My Birthday is this upcoming Saturday. Birthdays are bittersweet for me; I always feel sad about growing up. Not this Birthday though– I will be 20. Finally out of my horrible teens! I’ve always thought being in your twenties sounded so sophisticated and glamourous. You’re young enough that you can act like a kid, but people still have to treat you like an adult. Can’t wait!

One thought on “Positive Psychology, Strengths, and One Lucky Birthday Girl

  1. Glad to see you’re still making connections to conversations we all had at NODA Region 7. Excited to see part of those conversations presented in class on Tuesday, but even more excited to see how we can make some of these other conversations can be built into our experience this summer.

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