Using Your Strengths Is Not a Disease

The title of Larissa MacFarquhar’s article immediately caught my eye: “Why Are Do-Gooders So Irritating?” I thought to myself, “What? I’m irritating? Just because I want to make the world a better place?” What is that about?!!“ (Although I have to admit that in high school, I was deemed ‘biggest brown-noser,’ and that probably was irritating!)

MacFarquhar says that the attitude towards do-gooders (that of guilt and irritation) in the U.S. stems from our history of alcohol and Prohibition. She talks of Al-Anon (a group similar to AA for the families of alcoholics) and suggests that wanting to help others can be seen as a disease because “people feel morally obliged to help others.”

But I make the case to take a different approach: I have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment and one of my top strengths is restorative. I like to solve problems. I am energized by it. I enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. I like making things better. I want to make the world a better place. According to the assessment, solving problems is one of my raw, natural talents – and isn’t it a good thing to want to share it with others?

We all have talents. Let’s embrace them and leverage them, and not try to turn them into something negative.

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