During times of stress, it’s usually easier to use your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Identifying your strengths and learning how to use them to deal with challenges also helps build resilience.

When we talk about a person’s character, we mean the sum total of who that person is: how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours shape who they are, how they see the world and how they interact with the people around them. Every person has character strengths. These are positive qualities that are part of who we are and come naturally to us. It’s much easier for us to use our strengths during times of adversity than to try and manage our weaknesses.

For example, if patience isn’t your strength, trying to be patient when faced with a delay in a work project isn’t easy. On the other hand, if creativity is a strength, distracting yourself from the stress and frustration of waiting while you begin a new, creative project might be helpful.

Recognizing our strengths and using them wisely can help us improve our own self-confidence and build connections with other people.

Character strengths
The following is the list of 24 character strengths:

Creativity. Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are.
Curiosity. You like exploration and discovery.
Judgment. You think things through and examine them from all sides.
Love-of-learning. You have a passion for mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge.
Perspective. People who know you consider you wise.
Bravery. You don’t shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain.
Honesty. You live your life in a genuine and authentic way.
Perseverance. You work hard to finish what you start.
Zest. You approach everything you do with excitement and energy.
Kindness. You’re kind and generous to others.
Love. You value close relations with others.
Social intelligence. You know how to fit into different social situations.
Fairness. One of your abiding principles is to treat all people fairly.
Leadership. You excel at encouraging a group to get things done.
Teamwork. You excel as a member of a group.
Forgiveness. You forgive those who’ve done you wrong.
Humility. You don’t seek the spotlight, and others recognize and value your modesty.
Prudence. You’re a careful person.
Self-regulation. You’re a disciplined person.
Appreciation of beauty. You notice and appreciate beauty and excellence in all areas of life.
Gratitude. You’re aware of good things that happen and don’t take them for granted.
Hope. You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it
Humour. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you.
Spirituality. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Take action
Using the list above, write down your top 3 strengths. Now, for each of your top 3 strengths ask yourself the question, “How can I use this strength to help me deal with stress and challenges?” For example:

If your strength is forgiveness, you could answer the question with, “Because I prefer mercy and not revenge, it’s easier to move on, even when someone hurts me.”
If your strength is love-of-learning, you could answer the question with, “When things go wrong, I know I can examine the situation and learn a new way of going forward.”
If your strength is bravery, you could answer the question with, “Even when I’m opposed by many, I’m able to do what I think is right.”

Because our strengths are naturally easier for us than our weaknesses, they’re more readily available during times of stress. When we understand how to use our strengths to deal with stress, we can intentionally draw on them to deal with our challenges. Identifying your strengths and learning how to use them to deal with challenges also helps build resilience.