The ‘real’ me – le Bulletin ‘Conversation’*

MyFrenchLife™ - - le Bulletin - Conversation - The real me

The ‘real’ me – Appreciating Beauty & Excellence & other things

This week I was working on a self-development project around my character strengths. I recommend that you read on as there is a link to France and today to Paris in particular.

The idea is that having found your character strengths you learn how to use them to help you through day-to-day life and challenges so as to achieve a more positive personal and professional outcomes. This is no pop psychology, there is science behind it.

Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave and are the keys to you being your best self.

Your ‘top’ character strengths are said to be the ‘real you’ the you that others see, not that voice in your head.

The real me:

Below I’ve shared my top 7 character strengths & the corresponding VIRTUES.
1. Leadership: An organiser of groups of people
– virtue: JUSTICE
2. Love: Both loving & being loved are important + valuing close relations with others
– virtue: HUMANITY
3. Creativity: Originality, Adaptive, Ingenuity
– virtue: WISDOM
4. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: Awe, Wonder, Elevation
5. Curiosity: Interest, Novelty-seeking, Exploration, openness
– virtue: WISDOM
6. Fairness: Just, Not letting feelings bias the decisions about others
– virtue: JUSTICE
7. Honesty: Authenticity, Integrity
– virtue: COURAGE

And here is where I need you!
Some of you know me better than others but I ask you all – yes each of you.

Are these character strengths the ‘real me’, the ‘me’ you know?

Remember, you’ve agreed to keep me on track in ‘My big challenge‘.

So, now I need to know what you think, which of these do you agree with and which don’t seem me at all? - le Bulletin - Judy MacMahon - The real me

Here is the interesting tool I used to assess my character strengths it can be found here. If you complete the exercise, please let me know about your character strengths below in comments.

So, next, when I was working on how to use my ‘best self’ character strengths each day, and my focus at that time was on
4. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: Awe, Wonder, Elevation and
3. Creativity: Originality, Adaptive, Ingenuity
I discovered the following…

Paris in April is the Month of Photography


This annual festival, which began in 1980, is ramping up in 2017 and is now set to be twice as big as previous years’ events have been.

With no less than 84 exhibitions taking place all over the city and the Île-de-France, including names such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Maywald, Erwin Blumenfeld, Robert Doisneau, Jean-François Rauzier and oh so much more!

MyFrenchLife™ - - le mois de la photo du Grand Paris - copyright Wily Maywald - le Bulletin

As well as exhibiting their work in galleries and public spaces, the photographers themselves will be present during selected weekends, explaining their process. This is a great opportunity to see some of France’s finest contemporary photographers displaying their art. If you’re in Paris don’t miss it!

But back to my challenge and focus on beautiful things, excellence & creativity…

When exploring the Photography Festival website… I received a message from a member & Paris-based photographer friend Henrietta Richer. Henrietta was announcing that her new website was complete, so of course, I was into that immediately too.

More photography!

More beauty!

More exploration – more curiosity sated. - - The real me - le Bulletin

Of course, no sooner was I there and drooling over Henrietta’s moody images of nature: seascapes, flowers and fruit (copyright Henrietta richer – see above)… and then my curiosity swings in and I discover her brand new blog.

The blog with only one post so far: “Photographing experiences usually increases positive feelings” the study says!

Ha! Henrietta’s found her audience!

I’d like to share her blog post with you. If you’ve ever thought of yourself as a ‘happy snapper’ and if you’re someone who always has the camera (even smartphone) to your eye instead of enjoying the experience without any devices, then this is for you…

In essence, this study by The American Psychological Association June 9, 2016, finds that people who take photos of their positive experiences, usually enjoy the events more than people who don’t.

This seems counter-intuitive to me what about you? but read on…

Take A Photo For Extra Pleasure

And I quote from Henrietta’s blog post:
“To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first extensive investigation examining how taking photos affects people’s enjoyment of their experiences,” wrote Kristin Diehl, PhD, of the University of Southern California.

“We show that, relative to not taking photos, photography can heighten enjoyment of positive experiences by increasing engagement.”

In the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®, Diehl and her colleagues outline a series of nine experiments involving over 2,000 participants in the field and the lab designed to examine the effect of taking photographs of an experience on people’s enjoyment of an activity.
In each experiment, individuals were asked to participate in an activity (e.g., taking a bus tour or eating in a food court) and were either instructed to take photos during the activity or not. Afterward, participants completed a survey designed to measure not only their enjoyment, but their engagement in the experience.

In almost every case, people who took photographs reported higher levels of enjoyment.
While people might think that stopping to take photographs would detract from the whole experience and make it less pleasurable, participants who took photos reported being more engaged in the activity, according to the study.
“One critical factor that has been shown to affect enjoyment is the extent to which people are engaged with the experience…  …read the remainder on Henrietta’s new blog & whilst you’re there you can check out her lovely prints for sale.

More beauty

In April in Paris this year, it seems that there will be even more beauty than usual! The Spring blossoms, the Photography Festival, and of course Paris itself!  And now we know that we can get even more from our positive experiences by taking MORE photographs!

Here is our Paris in April 2017: what’s on? article which is where you’ll find the information about the Photography Festival.

I want to hear from you, please

C’est tout pour aujourd’hui – That’s all for today – See you in le Bulletin and the ‘Conversation’ next week.

And, in closing I ask you to let me know in the comments section below: –
1. Are the character strengths above the ‘real me’?
2. If you do the test yourself – please let me know what you think of it & share it below or email me if you’d prefer:

Merci d’avance

PS: * What is the le Bulletin ‘Conversation’?
– Le Bulletin is the private weekly newsletter for community members. [Join and you shall receive.] – Le Bulletin provides your weekend French immersion: our newest magazine articles to help you ‘Frenchify’ your life!
– The ‘Conversation’ is a weekly essay; a conversation of sorts, between Judy & members.

As we are a community comprising many curious Francophiles, myself included, there is no limit to the themes we cover in the ‘Conversation’! Each ‘Conversation contains at least one theme which can range from the meaning of life to French fashion to travel and experiences in and/or from France.

It is intended to be thought-provoking and often takes a philosophical approach to the challenges of life, relationships, careers, self-awareness and self-improvement.

We’re open to theme and topic suggestions and we dare you to disagree!

MyFrenchLife™ - - le Bulletin - Conversation

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


  1. Martine Bertin-Peterson Apr 4, 2017 at 9:59 PM - Reply

    I have only met your “on-line persona” but as a fan of My French Life, I can say that your posts indicate you are creative, curious, appreciate beauty and excellence. By virtue of building up a terrific community, you demonstrate leadership and through our business dealings, I have found you to be fair and honest. Voila! Now I will go and take the assessment.

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 5, 2017 at 8:57 AM - Reply

      Oh Martine, thank you for taking the time to read and express your view. I appreciate it <3
      Do let me know how you go with the assessment. And we need to work out how, when we can meet in France... a little project of coordination no doubt.

  2. Gael Apr 5, 2017 at 1:56 AM - Reply

    Bonjour mon amie,
    The Judy I know…well clearly you’re an organiser, just look what you’ve created with Ma Vie Francaise, so I’d definitely agree that Leadership, Creativity and Curiosity are some of your strengths. You’ve been a true and loyal friend to me through my ups and downs, so yes, humanity and love are who you are too. I know you appreciate beauty and excellence, we’ve had conversations about how our environments influence how we feel. I feel like I’m my best self in Paris and that somehow the beauty of the city elevates and helps one forgive even the mundane and difficult moments. And when I’ve needed advice and support you’ve been an excellent sounding board, I value your opinion, so wise and just, I’d have to agree too.
    I’ve had a quick look at the tool as well and found it interesting. Perhaps like you, I’m not 100% sure that others see me how I see myself.

    As for taking photos as a means of increasing engagement, for me it’s been true. As someone who tends to be introverted and subject to looking inward, I do engage more with the environment when I set out to explore with the aim of taking photos. In fact after living in Paris for a couple of years all of that beauty just became the backdrop, even though I always appreciated it, so I would intentionally go out with camera in hand (didn’t have an iphone then) which helped me re-engage and re-see what had become ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’. On the other hand, focusing on photo opportunities can sometimes take away being engaged in the ‘moment”. I suppose it depends on what the moment is presenting, no?
    Bisous from Marseille.

    • Sarah MacMahon Apr 5, 2017 at 7:47 AM - Reply

      Well, as your daughter, I know you to definitely be curious, creative and passionate about beauty and fashion (thus fashion design background). You are curious about people. You are a definite leader. You did well. What’s the link for us to assess ourselves?

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 5, 2017 at 9:13 AM - Reply

      Gael, wonderful to hear from you!. I’ve just been enjoying your instagram feed @threehoursfromParis and enjoying it immensely. Your images of Paris, Aix-en-Provence and your area are so enticing. Now back to this character assessment. Thanks for taking the time to read my result and share your view. The assessment tool certainly is interesting – do let me know if you do yours.
      Yes, the discussion about how others see you versus how you see yourself is interesting to me and more particularly how you can do anything about that – if you wish to do so. I’ve come across another fascinating TedTalk on just this topic which I’ll share soon… Watch this space.
      Looking forward to seeing construction site photos please. I’m oft finding myself drooling over images of the waterfront at Cassis and surrounds. Let me know when my room will be available – haha cheeky!

      • Gael Apr 6, 2017 at 2:31 AM - Reply

        We’re moving in 5 weeks. When are you coming? Can’t wait!
        In the meantime I’ll take some more photos of Provence and look forward to finding out about the TedTalk.

        • Judy MacMahon Apr 7, 2017 at 10:11 AM - Reply

          Oh, five weeks! Sounds like Cassis needs to be on my itinerary <3 !!! Merci for the offer 🙂

  3. harrietwelty Apr 5, 2017 at 6:53 AM - Reply

    Judy-I have met you online and in person and I can affirm that you personify the seven traits you describe, among them, organisation, creativity and curiosity and leadership. I think it is interesting and certainly worthwhile for you to go through this exercise of self-assessment (every leader should) and may take a page from your book and do it for myself! In the meantime, keep up your good work and your great site.

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 5, 2017 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      Harriet, lovely of you to pop in and comment 🙂 here is the link if you choose to do the assessment. And do let me know how you get on. If you’re interested I also find this other assessment to be excellent as well: – I’ve completed that assessment again and now have three results from over a period of ~20 years. Fascinating! I hope to see you again sometime soon in Paris and thanks so much for your kind words. Jxx
      PS: Any more books in the offing?

  4. Amanda Collins Apr 5, 2017 at 7:44 AM - Reply

    Sounds pretty spot-on, Judy.
    Thanks as always for this blog.

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 5, 2017 at 9:01 AM - Reply

      Amanda, glad you enjoy magazine I’m always open to suggestions and thanks so much for commenting on the ‘real me’ discussion. Hope to chat again soon.

  5. Jessica Rushton Apr 6, 2017 at 5:22 AM - Reply

    Hi Judy!
    Really loved your post, you can tell straight away through your website you clearly are an amazing team leader and have heaps of creativity!
    I also thought I’d give it a go! My top four character strengths are:
    Love of Learning
    Appreciate of Love and Beauty

    I found it really interesting in relation to learning languages and being a perfectionist, that my top two strengths relate to this! Being a perfectionist I think really relates to my weakest strength being – forgiveness. I think I struggle a lot forgiving myself for small errors, as well as maybe others!
    I thought the test was a lovely way to find out more about my personality…as well as cementing some of my own thoughts!

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM - Reply

      Salut Jessica
      As a brand new Contributor its wonderful to know that you also read le Bulletin – merci !
      Thank you for your very kind words – I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you’ve jumped in and completed the assessment too. I absolutely love your top 4 character strengths wow these are pretty awesome! –
      Love of Learning
      Appreciate of Love and Beauty

      Also one of the tips I picked up in the process of learning about how to use your core strengths is to not think of your lesser strengths as weaknesses. Your top character strengths reflect who you really are now and may well change and at that time some of those ‘lesser’ strengths may come to the for if needed and brought into focus.

      Thanks again Jessica for interacting with this community 🙂

  6. sarah-towle Apr 7, 2017 at 4:12 AM - Reply

    Judy that is totally you! How could you have created the community you have here at Ma Vie Francaise without such fabulous leadership ability? Look at all the people and groups you’ve organized! You would never have done it in the first place if you didn’t value close relationships with others — and with the city that makes all our hearts go pitter-pat.

    Your creativity and originality in this endeavor have been nothing short of extraordinary. And the wisdom you’ve brought the project? Ingenious!

    Curiosity, awe, wonder, courage — these attributes go hand in hand with all the above. Your appreciation of beauty and excellence and your openness and willingness to express it, week after week, year after year are a gift to us all. Thank you, on behalf of the entire My French Life community.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a look at that instrument and find out who I am to others. I hope the results are even half as good as yours!

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 7, 2017 at 10:08 AM - Reply

      Oh Sarah, how kind and generous and enthusiastic you are! Merci mille fois – I’m blushing 🙂
      I feel privileged to have become your friend since we met in Paris. I love the way you continue to face challenge after challenge! Bravo and bon courage with One of the things I most value from my experience with MyFrenchLife™ – MaVieFrançaise® – is the interaction with members and the friendships that have formed: diverse, rich and generous!

      Do let me know if you do the test and more particularly, the findings, I’d love to know more… you know me, insatiably curious 😉

  7. Henrie Richer Apr 10, 2017 at 3:31 AM - Reply

    From the all too short time I’ve spent with you Judy, these are indeed your strengths. Some of which I feel come from being a woman of experience, if you dont mind me saying so.
    A caring generosity and curiosity emmenate from you.
    Do you recognise yourself in the results?

    • Judy MacMahon Apr 10, 2017 at 12:17 PM - Reply

      Good question Henrietta.Yes, I do recognise myself in these results I found it to be very interesting and I’m finding it valuable to work each day on being creative in the way I use these strengths, instead of relying on the obvious.

      I was thrilled to see authenticity there! I am undoubtedly insatiably incurable curious yes! I was surprised but delighted to see love so high on my character strengths! I usually do show up as a leader on any of these types of assessment so no surprise there.

      For the last 10-years I’ve followed my intuition rather than ‘be who others think I should be’or ‘do what I think I should do!’ With a big corporate career behind me, when I started MyFrenchLife I was just following my intuition! No plan at all! No end game in mind! only that it wasn’t about me… I was interested in gaining a deeper understanding of France and the French people and sharing as widely as I could with like-minded people – gathering the views of others and trying to understand different perspectives. France beyond the cliché and making connections with extraordinary people around the world as I followed that path. This has changed who I am and changed my life!

      Also Henrietta, I have to say that I do prefer the approach of building even more on your strengths rather than beating yourself up about your weaknesses 🙂 Did you consider taking the assessment?

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.