Character Strengths: Developing Awareness

As a writer, life-long learner of positive psychology and a student and leader for activating character strengths, I often am focused on how to integrate my character strengths into my daily life. I speculate about the strengths of others while shopping and how their challenges could be less stressful if they were to apply their inner strengths to address each challenge. I create new ways to apply strengths when I tackle daily chores or when I am having a problem sleeping. You could say that my character strengths are to me what the Olympics are to the winners of the award.

Perhaps the best definition of ‘strengths’ comes from Linley, author of Average to A+. He describes strengths as a “pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance.” Character strengths are present to some capacity in every individual. Christopher Peterson, known as the godfather of personal strengths research, defines character as “a family of individual differences; distinct strengths that people possess to varying degrees.”

My niche in my professional life has developed into helping folks uncover their strengths and activate them to achieve their dreams. I call myself a Life Strengths Detective.

I have learned that discovering and activating my innate strengths has been beneficial to the stress I have encountered from over 30 years of coping with the challenges an auto immune disease can cause. The first doctor that was able to give me a name for it (fibromyalgia) in 1982 also advised me, “Don’t let fibromyalgia control you; you learn to control it.” But it did take awhile for me to realize the true extent of my character strengths and how they have impacted me to assist with these challenges.

I was no newcomer to body blows. I had been severely burned as a young housewife, when my washing machine exploded while I was loading clothes. I was burned over 50% of my body. Then, I have been hit by a car, fallen and broken my coccyx (tail) bone, had cancer and radium treatment. I learned very slowly (without the knowledge of the powerful character strengths at my disposal) that my body needed my full attention. I had to learn to be in control of the healing of my body. This started my journey of self knowledge and, in addition, I began educating myself on nutrition and other aspects of health.

All of this constituted a wakeup call. This is when I had to start identifying my true inner self. I realize this is true today, in retrospect, since I was not conscious of it at that time. My search would extend over a period of 30 years. Now, I know you must be thinking, “I sure don’t want it to take that long for me.” You see, that is why my mission is such a burning one; I assist folks in finding their greatness by having them discover their unique strengths – their ‘signature strengths’. This takes them on a journey that  reveals the action steps they must take to realize their success. This in turn, delivers extraordinary inspiration, personal growth, love, health and happiness in their everyday life.

During my long journey, I used my own signature strengths instinctively. Had I been aware of the powerful strengths I possessed sooner, I would no doubt be at least 20 years ahead.

My signature strength of curiosity led me to all sorts of unexplored territory. After 25 years of marriage that ended in divorce, I moved from Texas to Southern California. This is when the unconscious signature strengths kicked in, big time. I was compelled to think of new and inventive ways to do things. I realize now, it was and is a crucial part of who I am. I am never content to do things in the conventional way if a better way is possible. If I had been aware of the struggle I was about to encounter, I would have curled up in a ball like a snake – ignorance is bliss!

This was also when the painful fibromyalgia began to show up. The sleepless nights; sensitivity to pressure points on my body; foggy brain (referred to in the fibro community as ‘fibro fog’.) And also when I began working full time in the business world, fibromyalgia was letting me know, loud and clear, that I needed to change my health habits, especially my diet. I changed from the southern fried food that I grew up with to steamed vegetables and fresh fruit.  The gift of curiosity led me to a career in real estate and then to skin care specialist.

As I have settled into my ‘golden years’ I am finding that I am relying on strengths that I was not so much aware of as a younger person. For instance, my gift of maximize, I have found that taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something excellent takes just as much effort but is much more rewarding. These days, I am all about conserving everything, energy, effort, and exertion. I am finding that I am searching out signature strengths wherever I go, whether mine or someone else’s and it is fascinating to me. I feel like a diver for fine pearls, I watch for telltale signs of gems of beauty and strength.

I choose to spend more time with those who appreciate my special strengths. Also, I am attracted to others who have discovered and activated their own strengths. I spend more time relishing my life and being grateful for my signature strengths. I have learned that I can remain grounded in whatever situation I find myself. I pride myself that I have taken the time to understand who and what I am and also to understand my true values. I know that whatever challenges are thrown at me, I will remain poised and composed and will be rarely shaken.

My husband has often commented, “You are a woman with a steel rod for a spine.”

This could not be said of me as young person. This why my mission is, to encourage and inspire people to live the life of their choice, on their own terms. When their inner strengths are revealed, the next step is to develop their strengths and propel them to the success of their choice.

“When you experience the discovery of your innate strengths and discover your own power, your journey of achieving your chosen destination of success will be accomplished with ease.”

Article by Joci James, Life Skills Detective.

To find out more about me and my methods and also to receive your free copy of How to Make Clear Conscious Choices, please visit me here …

2 thoughts on “Character Strengths: Developing Awareness


    What an inspiring article!! You have certainly had your ups and downs. Overcoming all of the happenings in your life is remarkable.

  2. Gail Penry

    This article is great advice for anyone, but especially for those who suffer from auto immune disease—like Joci James has for decades. I have heard the term “inner strength” all my life, but Ms. James gives new life to the meaning behind the words. I have Lupus and want to get this article posted as a link on the Living with Lupus site. We all need words of wisdom and survival techniques!

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