By Ernest Swierk, founder/owner of Rainbow Property Maintenance.

Authenticity allows you to be in the moment with courage, positivity and zest. An important part of identity and the human psyche, signature strengths are said to be one of the most researched and practiced concepts in positive psychology. They are linked to your identity while capturing what makes you unique. Character strengths interventions are commonly implemented to strive for longevity in well-being, resilience and achievement, as Ryan M. Niemiec notes. Once you discover your strong suits, it’s time to strive for optimal results and performance.

How do character strengths work? Character strengths come naturally. They are an expression of who we are. When we express our core, we begin to make greater connections in our relationships and accomplishments. To add to that, signature strengths elevate your passion. It is highly important to identify the activities you freely choose. If we infuse sets of enjoyable activities, hobbies or passions into our routine, the outcome is everlasting. Self-concordance becomes highlighted. This element expresses how you authentically pursue goals and your progress toward them. When we have a set goal that is aligned with our core values, we feel more energized and driven to accomplish them. Holding your character strengths accountable increases your effort. Perseverance is heightened as you finish what you started, despite obstacles that arise. Success results by aligning your goals and strengths with designing the life you want to live. Make a signature strengths plan and test your progress!

Constantly educate yourself. Find what interests you — things that you are passionate about — and have the desire to grow your craft. Embrace your unique powers and traits. Discover your strong suits but also hold yourself accountable to areas of weakness. Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived a Nazi concentration camp, is widely credited with pioneering the study of meaning. His fight for survival and duty to lift those around him led to a realization. As noted in his book The Will to Meaning, suffering became an option through which to find meaning and experience values in life in the absence of the other two opportunities. There are various definitions of meaning, but Frankl expresses the notion of meaning to be unique and specific to the individual. Meaning is your purpose for existence, an inner decision, coherence and self-worth. Work to acknowledge your own true meaning in life. It may be a feeling driven by a sense of purpose, the belief life makes sense and by understanding life is significant — worthwhile. Embracing our experiences with the world can even help develop our own identity and, furthermore, the actions aiming toward the goals we set. Resilience is the ability to push through challenges to accomplish. By clearly labeling and recognizing our authentic purpose in life, we begin to manifest our values in thought and action every day. Developing and creating purpose takes time and requires self-reflection and self-knowledge.

Change your wiring. Hebb’s Law states, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” We create wiring in our brains by developing positive and effective habitual patterns to become automatic. Throughout our lifetime, we fine-tune, design and form new patterns and behaviors that are best fitted for our authentic lifestyle, gene makeup and preferences. Neuroplasticity is key to specializing the habits and tendencies. But what stimulates the growth of new neural networks?

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Laura E. Taylor is the managing coordinator of education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center and an assistant instructor in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program. In her webinar “Meaning and Purpose,” she explains that brain-derived neuropathic factor (BDNF) is the hormone responsible for the growth of new neural networks. It takes 20 seconds of focusing on anything new to release BDNF; this then creates new neuronal pathways throughout our lifetime. Innovative neural structures are the key to behavior change. This is important when you design new patterns of behavior that benefit you. Positive interventions become automatic when repeated. 

We are whole, capable and resourceful in finding what brings joy, meaning and purpose. Work to become more attentive and aware of all the good things in life. It’s time to tune into who you are, what you do best and how you can take yourself from good to great to unstoppable.

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