Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Deborah Rose
Psychologist, Counseling Center
I’ve been noticing lately that a lot of K students are really good at being too hard on themselves. You know who you are: you can easily identify and admire other people’s good qualities, but you seem unaware of (or reluctant to admit to?) your own positive traits. I promise, knowing and being comfortable with what is right about you won’t make you an egotistical jerk; instead, you will feel more balanced and competent.
My prescription: you need a dose of Dr. Chris Peterson. While his name may not be familiar to you, I can tell you that he was a warm, funny and engaging man, and an honored psychology professor at the University of Michigan. He spoke at K a couple of years ago on the topic of positive psychology, his life’s work. One of his initiatives at U of M was a semester-long, campus-wide discourse on “What Makes Life Worth Living?”
Don’t you love this question?
Peterson and colleague Martin Seligman developed the Values in Action Inventory. This inventory identifies 24 character strengths, such as love of learning, creativity, leadership, fairness, forgiveness, and perseverance. It helps people identify what is valuable and good in themselves.
The introduction to the VIA states: “Many people in today’s world focus almost entirely on what’s wrong with them — their problems, their struggles, and their stressors — and often lose sight of what is good and strong in them. But, there’s much more to life than problems. This VIA-ME … is a way for you to take a strengths-based approach in life, and will help you shift your focus from what’s wrong to what’s strong.”
I encourage you to take the free VIA inventory at www.viacharacter.org and consider a new way of looking at yourself. You might just be surprised at what’s strong in you.