Vanity Fair. What a great example of hearing something so often, as a part of our culture, that it never is really questioned. Tongue-in-cheek and clever intellectualizing from another era matters little. It’s dangerous when it comes to strengths. Real vanity is the opposite of your strengths, so long as you have been tested for your strengths and you know what they really are.
Vanity is essentially “playing it” to the outside world. It’s a mask to create an impression and get a reaction more related to status, power, and where we want to be in the pecking order. Everybody has it and does it, just like everybody has strengths and forgets to use them. Here’s the challenge. Use your strengths as much as you use your eye shadow. Use your strengths as much as you do whatever those things you do that get people who notice you to like you better.
Pure vanity plays to the unique opposite of all of your strengths. You have an opposite to every strength. Addiction groups call it your character defect and pray to God for God to remove it, if it is God’s will. What a “god!” You need your character defect as a signal to you that you are not playing to its opposite: your character strength. Yes, the opposite of your character strengths are your character defects and they are, for each strength, unique to every person. Once you know your strengths, you can identify your defects and vice versa.
But here’s the most important and significant insight without getting tripped up in your vanity. The evidence is, from all research in the area, that the more you use your strengths, the happier you will be. The more you don’t, the more you hope that vanity will be fair.