Build Confidence and Beat Depression in Just One Minute

Research shows an easy way to feel good about yourself and exude confidence.

Posted Nov 14, 2019

Suppose you turned on the news today, and the lead story tells you about "an all-new miracle vitamin that removes depressive feelings, builds confidence, and increases feelings of social identity." At the end of the story, the news anchors adds, "And did I tell you this miracle vitamin is FREE? And there are no side effects."

Would you try the vitamin? 

There are a lot of all-natural interventions for feeling good, but probably none as effective as what I'm about to share with you right now. And, you may be surprised to find that you really don't have to learn anything new! That's because you already possess this vitamin–oops, I mean, intervention. 

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That's because the "intervention" consists of knowing your personal character strengths. However you feel about yourself at this moment, you possess strengths that can increase your confidence while shrinking feelings of inadequacy or depression.

But the real secret is not just knowing your strengths, but putting them into action.  

First, let's talk for a moment about character strengths. Everyone has a different set of unique character strengths–such as creativity, social intelligence, forgiveness, kindness, bravery, curiosity, love of learning, appreciation of beauty and excellence, humility, hospitality, spirituality, self-regulation, honesty, etc. Those are just a sample of the variety of strengths that support us each day. 

Unfortunately, many of us diminish or devalue our own strengths by just thinking, "oh, that's just my routine, that's nothing special." If you don't recognize the value of your strengths, you are missing out on what is like a personal mood booster of confidence and well-being. 

A six-month longitudinal study examined whether being mindful of character strengths improved psychological well-being. Researchers concluded that, "Mindfulness and character strengths significantly contribute to psychological wellbeing in various contexts." It even seems that knowing one's strengths is a predictor of flourishing in the future. That's a strong endorsement for taking your character strengths off the shelf and wearing them proudly each day. 

Can you name your top five character strengths? Now, if you're not sure or can't name even three of these, you might want to spend a few minutes to take the VIA Character Strengths Survey. This survey will help you identify your top 24 character strengths. 

While being aware of your own strengths is vital to feeling good, noticing the strengths of others is a powerful way to quickly build connections and relationships. Try it and see how others react when they feel heard and seen through the lens of strengths. 

Now, let's move on to that one-minute intervention. This intervention was part of in a web-based study conducted by psychologist and positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman and colleagues. It was shown to decrease depression and increase feelings of happiness, and the effects of this intervention lasted for several months. 

One-Minute Strengths Intervention 

1) Name Your Top Five Strengths

Are you disciplined, organized? Do you have a sense of humor? Write down your top five strengths on a sheet of paper. If you're not sure of your strengths, use the strengths survey mentioned above. 

2) For the Next Week, Put One Strength into Action Once a Day

This is pretty straightforward and easy. Choose your top strength and put it into action one time each day for the next week. For example, let's say your strength is hospitality. One day, you might hold a door open for someone. The next day you might offer to get a coffee or water for a co-worker. Look for the opportunities that naturally arise. 

3) Write Down Your Daily Experience

Write down or journal your experience of putting your strength into action that day. How did it make you feel? How did it affect others? 

4) At the Conclusion of Week 1, Choose Your Second Strength to Put into Action Daily

Put this second character strength into action once a day for the next week. Again, write down it affected others and made you feel.  Continue repeating this same process for all of your five strengths. At the end of five weeks, you will have a new appreciation of your character strengths. 

Using your strengths once a day may only take a minute or two, but this practice can change how you feel about yourself. It will also help you recognize that your strengths are a potent means of contributing and giving to others. 

Stay tuned for the next Practical Mindfulness Blog, where I'll share the secrets of how to locate strengths in even the most ordinary daily story.