In my job, I sometimes feel like a professional survey respondent. It’s not just my job, though; our culture is obsessed with data and surveys are one means by which to gather it. I recently took a survey for work that I had apparently already taken. When I tried to register and was told that my e-mail was already registered, I tried my default I-don’t-really-care password and sure enough, I had taken it about 2 years ago. I dutifully took it again, in part to see if I was consistent and in part to see if the survey was. Both were. (If you’re dying for another survey of your strengths, you can find it here.)
My number one strength, according to this “scientific survey on character strengths,” is gratitude. It was number one on my previous iteration as well, and I am still a little surprised. I’m not surprised I ranked high in gratitude, but that it’s considered a strength. Maybe it is.
My number two is judgment: “Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.” I would say that is my defining characteristic. I am an INTJ, an analyst. But gratitude? Yes, I would say that I am a thankful person. I make a conscious effort to express gratitude to God and those around me on a daily basis. When it was making the rounds a few years ago, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and took the “Thousand Gifts Challenge.” It wasn’t that hard for me. Maybe my analytical nature helps? Give me a minute and I can come up with something to be thankful for.
My confusion over labeling gratitude as a strength is in my trying to find a role for it at work. Yes, days go better when I am looking for things to be thankful for, but does it really help my unit achieve its mission? I don’t see it as that kind of strength. Judgement, yes. That can be used to find ways to make money and accomplish tasks. Gratitude is a strength on a personal level instead. It is a characteristic we are commanded to have as believers.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
This is one of many injunctions in the Scriptures to thankfulness. I would like to think my real strength is obedience, but that’s not one of the options on the survey and the survey is not from a religious perspective. (I did score well on “spirituality” as well, though their definition is pretty broad.)
I’m thankful that I am thankful. I’m also thankful that I can analyze why I’m thankful. I hope we would all be thankful in the face of God’s exceeding goodness to us.