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Follow Your Bliss

By Dr. Ryan Niemiec

Your interests in life drive your character strengths and vice versa. Bring the two together and you have a recipe for success in life.

Interests and character strengths are two natural energy resources within us. What would your life be like if you maximized both? How might you merge the two together?

We have many types of strengths. One of the most motivating types of strengths are called interests. Sometimes we don’t see our interests as our strengths but we should—interests are those activities or areas we engage in because they fill us with passion, they excite us, they give us pleasure. Playing sports, engaging in art or drawing, watching comedy or romance or action movies, meditating, learning about particular trades, and participating in a hobby are all examples of interests we might have. Interests are a driving force in building relationships as many of our interests are a shared experience with others.

When you think of tapping into your interests, you probably think of things you do during your leisure time, away from work. This would be true for my hobby of collecting Pez dispensers or my passion for watching Michigan State basketball and football. However, this could not be further from the truth for my work. My work is also my area of interest.

I study and teach about character strengths, mindfulness, and positive psychology. My interests and passions are ignited and so are my character strengths. When I teach, my zest and enthusiasm elevate. My hope and love strengths are catalyzed as I see the immediate impact these teachings have on people’s lives and the many ways these could be used in their future and my future. My curiosity and love of learning are tapped as I explore new ideas, research, and applications in these areas. The connection between my strengths of character and my strengths of interest seems inseparable. It is a synergy—a swirl of fervor and excitement.

Explore your own synergy of character strengths and interests.

1.) Get to know your synergy:

  • What are your interest areas? Do you see these as strengths you have?
  • Take a look at your interests, and you’ll find your character strengths already there. No doubt, part of the reason you enjoy your hobby or recreational activity is because you get to flex your character strengths. Name your strengths that are getting ignited. Understand how they fuel your interests. Understand how your interests fuel your character strengths.
  • What would happen if you involved more of your character strengths? How might they help expand your interests?

2.) Expand upon your synergy at work:

  • What interest areas do you tap into in your work-life?
  • How do your character strengths align with your interest areas at work?
  • Is there a way to bring more of your interests to work, for example, through conversations with others?

This topic can get complex, so it’s important to use your perspective strength to see the big picture. The big picture can be summed up in three words. As the title of this post, a famous phrase popularized by mythologist Joseph Campbell, suggests:

Follow your bliss.