Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some work to do

One of the endeavors in Miss Bender's past was founding a career support group we called "Tuesday Night" (but never officially, or incorporated). Five of us met regularly to offer support and encouragement (and a few healthy stretch goals) towards our professional challenges. This the Business Finishing School with wine and required reading.

I mention this because I reunited with one of the Tuesday group alumnae this week, and she turned me on to "Authentic Happiness," the positive psychology movement that seeks to catalog human strength characteristics with the type of science applied to catalog our Mental Disorders (DSM) style.

If you like surveys (and would like to devote your hours of mindless night-surfing toward something besides Bookworm) pay a visit to the Authentic Happiness website and work through the Signature Strengths Questionnaire. Martin Seligman identifies 24 character strengths and uses this questionnaire to rank all 24 for you. What are your top 5 characters strengths, and what falls at the bottom?

The results will not likely tell you anything earth-shattering you don't already know about yourself (unless you fudge your answers, and then you hurt no one but yourself...). For example, Judgement/critical thinking and Love of Learning were my 1&2 strengths. Any annual performance review would have told you that. Perhaps a general reading of this website would have told you that.

But if you enjoy spending time with the final ranking (and perhaps spending time reviewing statistical outcomes is not one of your signature strengths) you may find some of the harder truths reflected at you. waiting to be dealt with.

Here was the hard truth for me:

Your Third Strength - Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you

Nice, right? Doesn't one feel validated and secure in their worldview?
Hold on, cowgirl. There's more.

Strength#22 - Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

22...out of 24. The only strengths below that on my list are "zest, enthusiasms and energy" (I attribute this to answering Neutral to most questions) and "hope, optimism, and future-mindedness." Hm. You see it is all written in a positive tone (because this is positive psychology, after all) but far...far.. removed from my purpose and faith. And my purpose and faith are the principles of Christianity.

So I've got some work to do. This is why we call it practicing one's religion. I don't have too much else to say about that. Except just now Dr A gave me a hug just for having "Capacity to love and be loved" at #21.

I could spend a lot of time using my judgement/critical thinking analyzing how my answers drove these results, but instead I'll acknowledge that Loving Mine Enemies has never come easily, that forgiveness is not an essay I have been able to finish, and that "live and let live" is more a driving force than mercy.

Instead of justifying the results, I went on to the next survey "Transgression Motivation,"which measures one's response to being wronged. The quiz requires one to think of a specific person who has wronged you recently. The questions vacillate between wanting revenge and wanting avoidance. According to the results, "The mean [avoidance motivation] score of American adults is around 12.6. if you scored 17.6 or more, you are in the most avoidant third, and if you scored 22.8 or more, you are in the most avoidant 10 percent." My score...wait for it... 24. Don't cross me. Around the Mill, we openly use the phrase "Dead to Me."

And that ain' Christian.

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