Vail Relationships: How to improve your personal strengths |

Vail Relationships: How to improve your personal strengths

Neil Rosenthal

VAIL, Colorado –What are your greatest personal strengths? I’m referring to personal traits and characteristics that parents might wish for in their newborn, such as industry, honesty, integrity, kindness and the like. Following are a list of personal strengths, beautifully articulated by Martin Seligman in his book “Authentic Happiness.”

Curiosity/interest in the world. Openness to experience, and flexibility about people and things that are different or foreign.

Love of learning. You love learning new things. Perhaps there are domains of knowledge in which you are the expert.

Judgment/critical thinking/open-mindedness. Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely on solid evidence to make your decisions. You don’t confuse your wants and needs with the facts, and you are able to change your mind.

Ingenuity/originality/street smarts. When you are faced with something you want, you are outstanding at finding novel yet still appropriate ways to reach that goal. This is also called common sense or street smarts.

Social, personal and emotional intelligence. How comfortable are you with emotions? Are you tuned into the motives and feelings of others, and do you respond well to them? That is emotional intelligence. Social intelligence is about how well you get along with others, as well as noticing differences in people’s moods, temperament, motivation and intensions, and acting upon those differences. Personal intelligence refers to knowing yourself: being finely attuned to your feelings and to allow those feelings to guide your behavior. It also refers to putting yourself in settings that maximize your skills and interests, so you can put your best abilities into play every day.

Perspective. Others seek you out to draw on your experience to help them solve problems or to gain perspective so they can better see the big picture. People who are wise are the experts in what is most important – and knottiest – in life.

Valor and bravery. You do not shrink from threat, challenge, pain or difficulty. Valor is bravery when one’s physical well-being is threatened – and facing danger despite fear. Moral courage is taking a stand that you know is unpopular and is likely to bring you ill fortune. Psychological courage includes the stance needed in order to face serious ordeals and persistent illness without losing your spirit or your dignity.

Perseverance/industry/diligence. You stay with things until they are finished. The industrious person takes on difficult projects and finishes them with minimal complaints. You do what you say you will do. You are ambitious, flexible and realistic, and your focus is on finishing what you start.

Integrity/genuineness/honesty. You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth, but also by being “real” and living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense. You represent yourself to others in sincere fashion through word, deed and touch.

Kindness and generosity. How frequently do you take the interests of someone else at least as seriously as your own? Do their interests sometimes override your own immediate needs or wishes? Empathy and sympathy are useful components of this strength, as well as tending to and befriending others. This includes forms of life other than human.

Loving and allowing yourself to be loved. You value close and intimate relationships, and the people you have deep and warm feelings about also have warm feelings about you. You have developed the capacity to both give and receive love.

I will complete this list in next week’s column.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303-758-8777, or e-mail him from his web site,

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