Discovering Your Superpowers

All of us have gifts – strengths and abilities that are unique to us, in a combination that is equally unique.

One of the best things about the work I do is watching clients light up when they discover what their unique character strengths are and how they can use them to create a more fulfilling life personally and professionally. For some, this is the first time in their life that they have recognized certain traits and the part they play in their happiness and well-being.

Over the last couple of decades, Dr. Martin Seligman and other pioneers in the field of positive psychology came to identify 24 character strengths that we all possess in varying degrees. These strengths are valued globally and cross-culturally, and include such traits as kindness, capacity to love, spirituality and purpose, curiosity, creativity and love of learning.

One of the goals of positive psychology is to help individuals create more value and meaning in their lives by using the strengths that are distinctive to them. Research in positive psychology shows that when individuals employ those strengths that are native and natural to them, they are happier, more satisfied in their lives and work, and have better relationships.

Another way to look at these character strengths is that they are kind of your “superpowers,” that is you are more in your element, more “you” and in the flow of life when you are engaging them.

Think back to when you were a child. Is there something that you always loved doing, or that others praised you for – maybe your artistic ability, your compassion for others, sense of humor, or zest for life? Maybe you always loved to write and are a gifted communicator.

Becoming aware of your strengths and how to use them in your daily life can help you develop more self-confidence and have a greater impact in your work and on the world around you. The adage “What you focus on grows,” definitely applies here.

So how can you begin to identify and build on these so-called “signature strengths?” There are several ways.

One simple way is to ask your closest family and friends. Let them know that you are trying to discover what your strongest qualities are. Choose 5 – 10 people and ask them for their opinion. Write them down. You are likely to begin to see a pattern emerging with the same qualities showing up over and over. You may even get a surprise or two!

There are several popular strengths assessments you can purchase and take online as well, such as the Realise 2, StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Gallup), and others. The one I use the most is the Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths (VIA). The survey is free and takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to complete.

Go to www.authentichappiness.com – Authentic Happiness is the homepage of Dr. Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Once you have completed the survey, you will receive your assessment of your 24 character strengths and their ranking.

You know yourself better than anyone, so use your own judgment. Ask yourself: Do these fit for me? How do I use these in my life? Is there a strength here that I could be using more to benefit myself and others?

I tell clients to take the top 5 and put them somewhere they will see them regularly. Become aware of when a particular strength might be helpful to use in a certain situation. The more you use your strengths, the more you will cultivate them as part of who you are. Who knows – you may end up discovering your own Superpowers.

Your health is your wealth

It’s hard to believe that we are already into May and that summer is just around the corner. Summer in the Rocky Mountains is about getting outdoors. It typically runs June-September and people around here don’t like to waste a minute of it. There’s lots of activities to choose from, too – biking, hiking, camping, mountain climbing, boating and paddle boarding, and horseback riding, which I love.

It’s a time for barbecues, and spending as much time as possible on your deck.  It’s a time to enjoy life in the natural world we are surrounded by.

Hoping to get in a ride or two this summer!

That got me thinking about how we live our lives day to day, not just in the summer but all the time.  Maybe you’ve heard the saying “Your health is your wealth.” My very basic premise when I work with people is that true well-being is about a lot more than the right diet and exercise, as important as these are.  Good nutrition and activity are foundational. But what about those other aspects of your life – your spirit, your career, your family and community relationships, how you go about your daily round?

We all seem to have busier lives these days and it’s easy to put off doing what you love until you “have more time” or find work/life balance (seriously??) I don’t know about you, but I still have the same 24/7 I’ve always had. As time goes on, in my own life, I’m finding myself less inclined to wait and more interested in making time for what’s important to me.

The good news about living life more fully isn’t necessarily about making sweeping life changes, unless that’s something you want to do.  The mindfulness movement that has been so prevalent the last several years is about living more fully in the moment, and appreciating our current experiences.

So how we can make the best of today and live fully now?  Here’s a few thoughts:

  • Keeping a gratitude journal is a surefire way to wake up to what’s good in our lives.  Jotting down 3 – 5 things first thing in the morning or at the end of the day is a proven way of helping to keep our focus on appreciating what we have, rather than what we don’t have. The more we appreciate what we have today, the more we realize how much we have to appreciate!
  • Take a break to check in with your partner, child, best friend or colleague.  A quick “thinking of you” call does not have to take long, and will leave both of you feeling more connected.
  • If you’re fortunate to work from home as I do, taking a ten-minute break to throw tennis balls for my dogs is a win-win.  They get play and exercise, and I get to enjoy the sunshine and laugh at their goofy antics.
  • Now’s the time to stop at a roadside fruit stand or farmer’s market.  Pick up some just picked fruit or fresh veggies and create your own farm-to-table dinner tonight.
  • If you’ve been feeling stale in your professional or business life, look for a way to shake things up a bit.  How can you bring more value to your clients or colleagues, or both? How can you bring more of what you do best to your daily work?  Get creative.
  • Think about what you loved to do as a child.  Reading books, picking flowers, going to the zoo or a museum, writing, drawing, biking – think about whatever feeds your soul and do that.
  • Unplug from technology and plug into real life.   As we’ve become more and more connected to our devices, we’ve become less connected to ourselves and those around us.  A 2017 Harvard Business Review article written by Vivek H. Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General stated that “Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher.”  Research shows that close ties with family and friends benefit us emotionally and physically, and can influence long-term health.
  • Slow down. Summer is traditionally the time we take things a bit slower so give yourself that gift.  Make time for the people and things you enjoy. Spend a Saturday afternoon reading on your porch.

Those are just a few of my ideas, and ones that work for me. How can you build more well-being into your life every day?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the subject, so post a comment below.

Something Special

Registration is now open for my Discover Your Strengths to Achieve Your Goals 6 week live workshop, and there is still time to grab the very low investment price of $197.00.

And – because this is a special time of year with graduations and Mother’s Day right around the corner, I’m extending the $197.00 through May 17th for any high school or college graduate, or for Mom so …….if this is for someone special who falls into either category, just mention that at the time of registration and the lower investment price will apply!

This workshop is designed to jump start anyone’s transition to a new chapter in life, and is perfect for a graduate or someone who is wondering what life will look like after that graduate heads off into the world! (That was me several years ago – I remember all too well wondering exactly that as my son headed off to college!)

This class supports you in:

•Identifying your top strengths and talents and learning how to use them to move toward goals.

•Discovering the blocks that might be preventing you from moving forward, and helping you learn how to overcome them.

•Learning how to create more of what you want in life and less of what you don’t want.

•Learning practical tools and strategies that can help develop a focused, strengths-based approach to making positive choices in life.

•Creating a vision and step-by-step plan to achieve your most important priorities.

•As an added bonus, I am also offering a 30 minute private coaching strategy session to all participants.

I would love to have you join me! Thursdays, for six weeks, beginning Thursday, May 17th, in Evergreen, from 5:00 – 6:15 p.m. Space is limited and advance registration is required.

Here’s what participants have said about Discovering Your Strengths to Achieve Your Goals:

“Suzanne’s ‘Discovering Your Strengths’ class was one of the best and most practical classes I’ve ever taken….and I’ve taken a lot of classes.” R.E., Evergreen, CO

“I attended Suzanne’s class ‘Discovering your Strengths’ and I was amazed at how much I discovered about myself. Suzanne taught me what my strengths were and how to use them in my daily life. I found the class uplifting and fulfilling. I was shown characteristics that I was aware of, and unaware of, and learned how to use them. I walked away from the class with a new insight, and with knowledge of how to use the powers I was born with.” T.B., Conifer, CO

The Healthy Kitchen – Ten Essentials

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If you are serious about your health, you should pay thoughtful attention to transforming your kitchen from a glorified snack counter into what I like to call The Healthy Kitchen. There are a whole list of things that could be found in a healthy kitchen, but I’ve narrowed my list down to ten to make things manageable.

Before I list my ten essentials, I want to encourage you to take a block of time and really take stock of what is in your kitchen. Chances are you know when something on your pantry shelf should get the heave ho and what should stay.

And please don’t tell yourself you’ll just put that bag of orange-y chips up on the top shelf where it will be out of sight. The next time you’re frustrated or upset over something, those chips may be out of sight, but they won’t be out of mind, and you may find yourself eating three fourths of the bag in one sitting before you regain control. Do yourself a favor. Take an honest inventory of what you have and get rid of the things you know aren’t good for you.

Now let’s look at what I consider the Ten Essentials for a healthy kitchen.

One – Proper Equipment

You might be surprised that I’m not starting out with a list of foods, but proper equipment is so important to enjoyable cooking. If you are frustrated by not having the right equipment, your kitchen experience will be less than enjoyable. And the right equipment doesn’t necessarily mean expensive either.

I’m referring to the basics: a good chef’s knife that will hold a sharp edge, a food processor with multiple blades, a good stainless steel stockpot, a Dutch oven and (my own preference,) a large  cast iron skillet. Your choices may vary, but the point is to have good equipment you’ll love to use.

Two – Recipes

Recipes may seem like a no brainer, with everything you can find on the internet, but many of these recipes are laden with heavy fats and unhealthy ingredients. You can’t go wrong with respected chef and internationally known food writer Mark Bittman’s books, which include How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything: The Basics, and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Three – Pure Water

Good water can affect the flavor of food and beverages more than you might think. And please avoid bottled water, which leaches chemicals from the plastic containers in which it is stored. A good water filter brand to install at the kitchen tap is Aquasana or purchase a pitcher type filter, such as Pur or Brita.

Four – Spices

Variety really is the spice of life and spices add so much flavor and variety to your food. Spices I just can’t do without are bay leaves, rosemary, basil, dill, oregano, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. And don’t get me started on fresh garlic, as it deserves a category all its own.

Five – Oils

In spite of all the rage over coconut oil, my mainstay oil is extra virgin olive oil. I use it to make a quick salad dressing with some good quality vinegar, drizzled over over steamed or roasted vegetables or for lightly sautéing.

Six – Nuts

Nuts can be great as they contain healthy fatty acids and are so versatile. I love keeping shelled walnuts and pecans on hand at all times. Store in your refrigerator in a sealed bag for longer shelf life.

Seven – Lemons

A squeeze of tart lemon juice can add just the right note to dressings and vegetables. And warm water and lemon is a great way to jump start your day when you drink it in the morning.   

Eight – Vegetables

I’m not sure you can eat too many vegetables, especially when they are of the green, ‘above the ground’ variety. Kale, spinach, crunchy Romaine lettuce, green or purple cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, collards, turnip greens, beet greens and more all have their charms. Again, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a great resource.

Nine – Grass Fed Butter

Yes, butter! Fats get a really bad rap but there are some healthy fats.  I am not talking about slathering butter on everything but having it in moderation. When you do eat butter, choose a butter made from the milk of grass fed cows, as it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Kerry Gold Irish Butter is a good brand and can be found in most supermarkets.

Ten – The Cook

Lastly, you bring yourself into the healthy kitchen. I encourage you to bring your enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to experiment. Have fun with your cooking. It is truly satisfying to plan a meal, buy fresh ingredients for it, and prepare and serve it to your family or friends.

Customize this list by adding your own essentials to it and enjoy meals in your new, healthy kitchen!

I love to hear from you so please share any thoughts or comment below.

Ready for the Next Level?

Do you use your innate strengths and talents to achieve your aims? Do you even know what they are? Most people don’t! All of us have gifts – special abilities and assets that we were either born with or have developed over time.

Join me for a 6 week live workshop to uncover your unique Signature Strengths! Every Thursday, for six weeks, beginning Thursday, May 17th – Discovering Your Strengths to Achieve Your Goals, at 5:00 – 6:15 p.m., 32065 Castle Court, Suite 325, Evergreen, CO 80439. In this workshop you will:

•Identify your top strengths and talents and learn how to use them to move you toward your goals.

•Discover the blocks that might be preventing you from moving forward, and how to overcome them.

•Learn how to create more of what you want in your life and less of what you don’t want.

•Learn practical tools and strategies that can help you develop a focused, strengths-based approach to making positive choices in your life.

•Create a vision and a step-by-step plan to achieve your most important priorities.

•As an added bonus, I am also offering a 30 minute private coaching strategy session to all participants.

The price for this workshop is $247.00. Please book your space now as space is limited to 8 participants, and advance registration is required.

Because this is a special time of year with graduations and Mother’s Day right around the corner, I’m offering this class at the reduced investment of $197.00 through May 17th for any high school or college graduate, or for Mom so …….if this is for someone special who falls into either category, just mention that at the time of registration and the lower investment price will apply!

If you prefer, you can also register by mailing a check payable to: Evergreen Life and Wellness Coaching, P.O. Box 206, Evergreen, Colorado, 80437. Please note that registration will close at a maximum of 8 participants and register early to secure your spot!

And don’t forget that I am always available for a complimentary coaching consultation by appointment, and welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your goals and concerns.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact suzanne@evergreenlifeandwellness.com or call: 303.670.7863.