With winter stretching on,the February ‘blahs’ clinging tightly, and some life stresses looming large, I decided I needed a boost in my happiness level. I chose to embark on a personal strengths challenge and incorporate what I teach others in my own life. I’m a big believer of practice what you preach.
The positive psychology intervention I selected for this boost is what I call the Signature Strengths Challenge. This exercise has been shown to increase happiness and decrease depression for up to 6 months. Sounds good to me!
Here’s what I did.
- Learn – Take the VIA Strengths Assessment to discover my signature (top) strengths http://beingpukka.pro.viasurvey.org
- Pick One – Select one of my top strengths – I chose creativity.
- Action – Put it in action for 7 days. Each day I’ll use creativity in a new way.
- Notice – Be mindful when using my strength – notice how I’m feeling and what I’m doing. I’ll also journal about the experience.
Day 1 – Rear View, a pastel creation
I’ve not done much artwork in my life but I recently acquired a set of colourful pastels for Christmas. They’ve only been used a couple of times and looked like they were yearning for some freedom of expression. Perfect for my first creative activity.
Grabbing a small notebook, I started a pencil drawing (something I’m also not well experienced at yet) and began playing with some lines. An image started to take shape. Without a plan, it was starting to look like something. A face? I could work with that. Pulling out the pastels I began to add colour. Again, without much of a plan. Just playing around with my new tools.
A little more colour. Some smudging. Inclusion of the pencil again.
Voila! I was done. In about 5 minutes.
What I had created made me laugh. The proportions were off. Really off. And certainly, it would not be hanging in a gallery any time soon. But I had created!
During and after my pastel project I could noticed myself feeling lighter. I was laughing at my rudimentary skills. They need some work but I can live with that. With some self-compassion and courage, I sent a picture of my piece to my daughter and hubby. Both very creative people with skills far more developed than mine. But they love me. I knew they’d enjoy a laugh.
Evan enjoyed the ‘awkwardness’ of her look. Jenny thought she was ‘beautiful’. Love my peeps!
And so began the an expansion of positivity. I felt lighter. More energetic. Laughed at my unskilled creation. Shared it with my family and brought a smile to their faces.
I’m looking forward to the next activity in my Signature Strengths Challenge. Stay tuned for Day 2 and if you like, start your own challenge to boost your happiness and guard against depression.