Eric Barker | TIME, May 21, 2015

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

People whose jobs allowed them to use their signature strengths — those qualities they were uniquely best at, the talents that set them apart from others — were consistently happier:

Source: “The Application of Signature Character Strengths and Positive Experiences at Work” from Journal of Happiness Studies, June 2012

This method has been verified multiple times. It also increases the amount of flow you experience at work. Leveraging signature strengths is also one of the secrets of the most creative people.

So how can you put this to use? Via UPenn happiness expert Martin Seligman’s book, Authentic Happiness:

  • Identify your signature strengths.
  • Choose work that lets you use them every day.
  • Recraft your present work to use your signature strengths more.
  • If you are the employer, choose employees whose signature strengths mesh with the work they will do. If you are a manager, make room to allow employees to recraft the work within the bounds of your goals.

You can also use it in your personal life. Doing this can increase happiness for months:

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

When 577 volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups. And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full months later. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.