As featured in North Hawaii News June 9, 2017
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to list off the things that are wrong with a situation than what is right? Ask yourself about the good qualities of a friend and you may pull forth a few nice words like “reliable,” “thoughtful” and “fun to be around.” Think about someone who has wronged you and you’ll have a gush of words fill your mind. “They were so selfish and rude and careless,” and on and on we go on the merry-go-round of someone’s faults or weaknesses.
When you think about it, the general population has conversations about that which needs to be fixed more often than that which is working well. The expression “areas of improvement” gives a sense of productivity, yet often the focus gets stuck in the problem zone. Children’s report cards and workplace performance evaluations are utilized to pinpoint weaknesses in order to improve upon those areas, but what about the areas where they are excelling? Wouldn’t it be a better use of our time and focus to build upon the things we are good at?
Don Clifton PhD, the father of Strengths-Based Psychology, believed so. He saw that “we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.” In order to initiate more conversation and understanding about the individual qualities that make us great, he led a team of scientists to develop an assessment that measures natural talent. A powerful formula for success is created when knowledge and skills are focused around our natural strengths.
The reason this is such a powerful concept is that people who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are more positive and productive, as well as three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life. This area of focus can be beneficial to both the older adult juggling physical or cognitive challenges, as well as the family caregiver who is trying to serve their loved in the best possible way.
We all have natural talents to draw from when placed in a caregiving situation. Emphasizing on these will build you up for those times when you feel tired, broken or overwhelmed. These feelings are often amplified when you are giving more of yourself than your natural talents can provide. If you are the one needing the assistance for yourself, accepting those areas where you may have already had some challenges will guide you in choosing what types of support you may need to ask for.
For example, if you are great with numbers and organization, focusing on the financial order of things and the schedule of professional assistance for yourself or your loved one may best serve the situation. Emphasize on that which you are naturally good at, bring others into the caregiving team who excel in those other areas and you are likely to have the best case scenario through your Kupuna transitions.