Where are you flourishing?

The chances are you’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about your shortcomings. It’s natural, times are particularly hard, we’re all looking for a way out and being confronted with our least tolerant, least compassionate, least fun selves on a regular basis. But while ‘How can I do better?’ feels like a positive starting point, it will keep confronting us with our weaknesses. And that can be a downer.

For many reasons, it’s just as important to think properly about the parts of us that are full. Never mind ‘Where are you broken?’, how about: ‘Where are you whole?’ Confidence comes not from the gaps, but from the parts of us that are brimming full, doubly so if you’re aware of them, and can tap into them.

What do I mean by ‘brimming full’? Well, this is where your friends and peers come in. I have a theory that others are much better at seeing our strengths than we are – not least because we habitually focus on our own weaknesses. You could ask your friends which areas they think you’re strong in, or, if you’re not comfortable with that, just look at the evidence. What do people come to you for?

Alternatively, flip it: what do you turn to different individuals for? One might make you laugh, another might offer insight; maybe one has a knack of showing you things from a totally fresh perspective. The point is, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but it’s the usually our strengths that influence our interactions with one other.

Life is unusually difficult, we miss and need one another. We are bored, stressed, or both – the colour is gone from the world. More than ever, we are attracted by the overflowing bounty of an oasis in a desert. While we are inclined to focus on the arid zones, everyone has multiple watering holes in their character that offer succour to passing travellers. If we know where our own flourishing areas are, we can make richer, more efficient offers to others. If, on the other hand, we obsess over our weaknesses, we can risk isolating ourselves and missing out on sharing many great experiences with others.

Today’s challenge, if you choose to accept it:

What resources do people generally find at your pit-stop? Think carefully and honestly about what people come to you for, and write them down. This isn’t a wish-list of great qualities you like to imagine you might have, but it’s also not the time for false modesty. Be as specific as possible, and include real examples.