by Fatima Doman
Drawing on our strengths is one of the most powerful and motivating tools we have to create a healthier future. Paying attention to and making the most of your strengths is associated with a number of positive health behaviors, such as promoting a feeling of well-being, mental health, living an active life, pursuing enjoyable activities, healthy eating, and physical fitness. While the strength of self-regulation had the highest associations overall in a recent study, the strengths of curiosity, appreciation of beauty, excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest also displayed strong connections with healthy behaviors.
You can recharge the four areas of mind, body, heart, and spirit—which map closely to WBI’s SPIRE methodology—by using your character strengths to energize your activities. For example, if you have a top strength of teamwork, your mind-recharging activity could be to organize a book group to discuss new insights from a book. If you have a top strength of appreciation of beauty and excellence, your body-recharging activity could be exercising outside in the beauty of nature. If you have a top strength of leadership, your heart-recharging activity could be to organize an outing to get to know more people in your neighborhood. If you have a top strength of kindness, your spirit-recharging activity could be to donate your time feeding the homeless. The more you connect your strengths to activities that recharge all aspects of your being, the more likely it is that you will enjoy and continue the positive behaviors!
Recharge Your Mind: The brain is like a muscle—if we don’t use it, it will atrophy. Flex your brain muscle to keep those neurons firing and making new connections. The best way to grow more connections is to take up a challenging activity that’s new to you, like technology, music, or a foreign language. Challenges should offer novelty and fun. Strive to learn something new.
Recharge Your Body: There is no optimum functioning without taking care of our biological needs—rest, recovery, the proper nutrition, and physical movement. Drink plenty of water—being dehydrated can cause fuzzy thinking, headaches, and blood circulation problems. Getting the amount of sleep your body needs is paramount. Set goals for your physical fitness and take a brief stretch break after every ninety-minute work session when possible—this will enable blood flow to your brain. When physical problems are addressed, treating root causes instead of symptoms, many issues resolve themselves.
Recharge Your Heart: It is also important that we take time to recharge our relationships. Character strengths fuel emotional intelligence—helping us understand the source of our emotions and build positive relationships with others. Take time to nurture your important personal relationships by spotting strengths in those close to you, and make an effort to spend quality time with those you love. Improve your professional relationships by appreciating strengths in your colleagues. When you do this, you replace negative feelings or thoughts with positive ones, which rejuvenates you.
Recharge Your Spirit: Giving service is an excellent way to renew ourselves spiritually, and the personal benefits we reap are an added bonus. Did you know that people who regularly give service tend to live longer than those who don’t? Other ways to renew spiritually are reading inspirational biographies, listening to uplifting music, or being inspired by nature. Connecting to your character strengths is a spiritual renewal in and of itself.
Use your strengths to rejuvenate your whole self—it will make the process much more enjoyable and meaningful!
Learn more from Fatima at the upcoming Embodied Positive Psychology Summit.
Fatima Doman, author, executive coach, and founder and CEO of Authentic Strengths Advantage®, is passionate about coaching executives to measurably succeed by leveraging their strengths. Her areas of expertise are positive leadership, performance, emotional intelligence, transitions, succession planning and developing executive vitality through whole life balance. Fatima has worked successfully with many Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 clients representing a variety of industries, including technology, consulting, electronics, health care, insurance, media, higher education, government, aerospace, the US military, NASA, law enforcement, and the UNCR. Fatima holds an Advanced Executive Coaching certification from the Columbia University Executive Coaching Program. She served as co-founder and co-director of FranklinCovey’s Global Executive Coaching Practice, and was a faculty member of the FranklinCovey/Columbia Business School Executive Education Coach Certification Program. Fatima has appeared regularly as an expert coach on television and radio, and is the author of Authentic Strengths: Positive Psychology Coaching and producer of the global training workshops based on the book. authenticstrengths.com