Think about how you’d feel about an event you’d normally enjoy – a family gathering, a night on the town, even a meeting at work – if you knew beforehand that something about it has an almost 100% chance of making you miserable.
Bailing it isn’t an option.
Enjoying it is.
Without wasting energy trying to pretend away the parts that push your buttons.
All you have to do is experience the situation through the lens of your strengths.
Saved From Meltdowns, Literal and Figurative
The opportunity to join the chorus in a concert screening version of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers sounded like fun when I signed on in May. The weather forecast for the weekend of the performance, not so much.
I’m one of the eighty-seven people on the planet not on the Lord of the Rings bandwagon. Heat and humidity make me horribly, physically ill; we sang outdoors for two days when the heat index was in the high 90s. Among among more than 100 delightful colleagues, I was stuck way too close to several who . . . . let’s just say I’ll never intentionally sign up to ride in their lifeboat.
The overall experience?
I LOVED IT.
Times a gazillion.
I can’t wait to do it again next summer.
A potentially awful experience was fun-bordering-on-magical because I experienced it through my VIA Character Strengths.
(Imagine, I used to think the LOTR faithful who came in costumes were the world’s biggest geeks, when I’m the biggest geek myself!)
Choral singing always taps into my tops strength, appreciation of beauty and excellence, especially when I sing with Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. Add the Philadelphia Orchestra and a conductor who is a true artist/teacher who so gets coral singing, and I’m in VIA strengths nirvana.
I’m still not a fan of LOTR – I mean, trying to read the subtitles, backwards, from the behind the screen was physically painful – but witnessing the syncing of the film with the live chorus and orchestra lit up my curiosity.
Even when my head hurt, from both the heat and the backwards subtitles, I tapped into gratitude that I get to sing with such wonderful musicians and that my schedule is flexible enough to do gigs like this.
I tapped hope, future-mindedness and optimism when I imagined the orchestra hiring us again next year – they did, woot – and hearing one of the instrumental pieces for the first time was so sublime, it fed my spirituality strength in a big way, to the point that the salty liquid streaming down my cheeks wasn’t just sweat.
Seeing that rainbow just before the performance?
That fed all of my top strengths in a way that made the heat, struggling to stay focused during the many, long, non-singing parts of the movie, and the distractions from my neighbors fade even more quickly than the actual rainbow did, leaving me feeling pure delight and joy.
Strengths Fuel Engagement, Energy and Joy
You, too, can experience that kind of engagement, energy, and joy in your own life.
Even without singing a concert in sweltering heat.
It begins with knowing and applying your Values in Action Character Strengths.
Like so many coaching tools, the concept and process are simple. You can even take the VIA Survey for free. Also like so many coaching tools, though, getting the results you want, on your own, can be a challenge. Working with a coach can help you get deeper, more meaningful, and more lasting results.
Learning to leverage my VIA strengths intentionally and creatively has quite literally changed not only my ability to enjoy a potentially miserable concert experience, but my entire life.
I can’t guarantee that learning to use yours will lead to literal rainbows popping up 20 yards away from you, but I know it can help you boost your engagement, energy, and joy, often in ways that feel downright magical.
image ©2016 Florence Moyer