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suspicious_dog1Welcome back, loyal fans, (You’ll see why that’s a pun in a minute), to part Six of my nine part series where I interview different Enneagram personalities! Click on these links for the first five interviews:

One,

Two,

Three,

Four,

Five.

Today I am interviewing the Six, also known as the Loyalist/Skeptic. (See the pun? Do ya? Do ya?) Welcome Six.

Thank you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a question before we get into the interview. What are you getting out of this?

Um, what do you mean?

Why are you interviewing me in the first place? How are you going to use the information that I give you? Are you going to make me look bad?

Well…no. What incentive do I have to make you look bad?

Just because you haven’t stated one or I don’t know it yet doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I read your article with Three. I saw what he said about me. For all I know, you two are best buddies.

Everything I write is word-for-word from the interview. I don’t change or edit anything.

Fair enough. But what about ulterior motives? You really expect me to believe you’re doing these out of the goodness of your heart? Or are you doing this to get more readers and more power? Are you getting paid to write these? Are these interviews really about us, or are they about Livewithwonder? Well? I’m waiting…

Well, I don’t get paid to write these. I’m writing these because I feel like they help and inspire people, and I like how I feel when I help and inspire others. I do want to increase my readership, but the reason for that is that I want to inspire more people. Yes, I would eventually like to make a living doing this, so that I can focus all of my energy and attention on inspiring, and not have to divide myself between writing and jobs which I’m not fully behind anyway. Does that make sense?

Well…yeah. Okay, I’ll put you in my “probationary circle.”

What does that mean?

It means I don’t fully trust you yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and let you interview me.

Um, thanks…I guess?

Trust me. Most people don’t make it this far.

Okay, so what do you believe?

Well, see…that’s a tough question for me. There’s a few ideas and people I really strongly support, but that’s because they’ve proven themselves, much in the same way that you passed the first test. The way I see it, if you pardon my language, there are many BS people and ideas in the world, people who are fake, that crumble apart when things get difficult and leave you hanging when you need them the most. The same goes for ideals. Why follow an ideal if it’s a bunch of bull? So you test the people. You test the ideas, again and again and again, and if everything checks out? Congratulations, you’ve found something incredibly rare in life, something or someone to believe in.

Could you give me an example of this in practice?

Sure. Let’s say you’re dating someone, and that person tells you they love you. Well, people say that all the time. How can you be sure they aren’t full of it? You test them. You look for potential problems and ulterior motives. You bait traps, and if they fail, you know it wasn’t sincere. For example, if you think she’s merely after your money, you would provide a chance for them to get a sizable chunk of your money if they break up with you. You test to find out what is true.

Doesn’t this distrust hurt people’s feelings?

Sometimes, if they pass the test and I hurt their feelings I feel really bad about it, but most of the time, they don’t pass the test., so in that case I don’t really care if their feelings are hurt or not. They don’t really care, so why should I be loyal to them?

It’s funny that you’re called the “Loyalist” and yet you are so quick to turn away from others? Do you believe in second chances?

Hey, if they pass the test, you’ll never meet anyone more loyal. I tend to only take second chances on rare occasions. If someone fails a test, it’s for a reason.

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?

People always think I’m crazy when I say this, but Nine really bothers me.

Nine? Why?

Nine is always trying to play peacemaker, even when it isn’t necessary. Like, say I’m having a debate with somebody, Nine will say things like “Hey, its okay. It doesn’t really matter,” or “His points are valid too,” and it drives me nuts because it does matter and his points aren’t valid. It takes a long, long time and a lot of research for me to form an opinion on something, and I guarantee the other guy hasn’t done his research, so when she tries to tell me that his point is valid when it isn’t, well its infuriating. In fact, I get much more annoyed at her meddling than I do with the person I’m arguing with.

A day hanging out with Nine is a day staring at clouds with nothing happening. What does she even do, anyway? I just don’t see how someone could spend so much time doing nothing.

What do you think of your friends, Five and Seven?

Five is a really cool character. He’s played peacemaker with me a few times too, but the difference is that he doesn’t really care if I’m peaceful or not. He just offers some useful information and he’s on his way, and yeah that usually does calm me down.

We’re both anxious in our own way, I guess. I know in your interview with Five that some of his comments about me seemed kind of harsh or negative, but that’s actually what I like about Five. He’s honest. He doesn’t lie to me to be sensitive to my feelings. He acts almost computer like.

Does Five have any flaws?

Oh yeah. Of course. For one thing, he gets all caught up in the world of his head sometimes. He once locked himself in his room for three days straight. When he finally came out, his eyes were bloodshot. I’m pretty sure he didn’t sleep most of that time. I still have no idea what he did all that time. For all I know he was playing video games.

What about Seven?

Seven is a great guy who loves to have fun. He’s great because he knows how to pull me out of his shell, at least somewhat. Say we’re heading out to a party or something and I’m freaking out about how formal it is and wondering what the appropriate attire is. Seven will pop in with an obnoxious shirt and totally put me at ease. He’s a very fun person who helps me get rid of my anxiety for a while.

Of course, he’s got his flaws too. He does tend to ditch me if there’s a crowd. He doesn’t mean to, and it’s not like I couldn’t go over and join him. I’m just not a crowd person. Seven, on the other hand, he practically needs to be around people. He’s always telling me that I need to relax, but you should see him at a party that’s ending. You’ll never see a more anxious face.

Would you care to add anything before we wrap this up?

Test everything to find what is good, and when you find it, hold on for dear life.

Thank you for your time, Six.

Thanks. You earned it.

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chess-nerdWelcome everybody to part five of my nine part series on the Enneagram. To read my past articles, please click the following links:
The One
The Two
The Three
The Four

Today, I am interviewing Five, also known as the Thinker/Observer. Welcome Five!

Hello, er hi. Yeah, hi.

You seem a little nervous.

Who um me? Well I guess I’m so used to doing my own thing that I’m awkward around people sometimes.

What is your own thing?

Well…it’s kind of hard to explain.

It’s okay, explain away!

Well it’s like…for most people, they don’t really enjoy being left alone. They get lonely. For me, it’s like I don’t ever get enough alone time. There’s so much to study and learn, and it just seems like people are always interrupting. No offense to them, but I wish I had more time to explore the things that interest me.

What interests you?

Well that changes from time to time. I’ll get really into something, practically obsess over it, and then I’ll hit a point where I move on. Right now I’ve been watching videos of all the TED talk videos and I’m categorizing which are my least and most favorite, in order.

Wait, you’ve seen all the TED talks?

Most of them. I still have a few to watch, but I’ll probably go do that when I’m done here.

If you don’t like interruptions, why did you agree to this interview?

Well, I made an exception in this case because I like to share my findings and things I learn with people. I find it’s easier to get along with people if they share the same interests as me.

What if they don’t?

Well…then things get a bit rough…

I see. So what is it you believe?

I don’t know. Am I supposed to believe something? I guess for me, believing something is just jumping to conclusions. What you believe is based on what you know, and there’s always more data to gather, and many times that data contradicts. The world is a very uncertain place.

How do you actually live like that? Don’t you value anything?

Well, I guess you could say I value knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the safer you are, so I hoard it. Knowledge protects you, empowers you, and liberates you.

Would you say that knowledge has its own problems?

It can. It certainly makes life more complicated, but I like to think of certain life problems as puzzles to be solved. Knowledge can also make you more miserable sometimes because you become aware of awful things in the world that you otherwise wouldn’t. The thing is, if you don’t know what the problem is, you cannot fix it, and people go on living in painful ignorance.

How exactly does knowledge protect you?

That question can be answered many ways. Without knowledge, you cannot specialize in anything , and if you cannot do that, you’re useless as far as society is concerned. You might as well be flipping burgers. I’m not taking that path. I want to have something to offer the world.

From a survival perspective, you can run away from a snake, but if you know that a particular snake isn’t poisonous, then you have nothing to worry about. You are not in danger of an illusion.

From a legalistic perspective, the people who are ignorant of the law get taken advantage of. Did you know the police can legally lie to you as a means to coax the confession of a crime? You may have known that, but my point is that if you didn’t know, you’d get taken advantage of.

Have you ever been arrested?

No, but its always nice to be prepared. You never know.

Honestly, though, you seem like a nice guy. What are the chances you’d be arrested?

Innocent people are arrested all the time. Its good to be prepared, just in case.

Aren’t there better uses of your time than learning something like that?

Well I suppose so, but when something catches my interest, I throw myself into it. It’s just what I do.

I was thinking of something more like a social life?

Like I said before, no offense, but other people waste my time. When I’m to myself, I have time to research and unravel the world’s mysteries.

But can’t others help you reach your goals?

Sometimes you have no other choice but to take donations from others but I try hard not to. Most people don’t understand what it is I’m trying to do with my research and discoveries. They usually just want to piggyback on my hard work for their own personal gain.

It’s always the same garbage. I’ll tell a well thought-out, researched, original joke and Three will spread it to everyone and take credit, or I’ll stumble upon a new fascinating discovery and Eight will find a way to turn it into a weapon. Most people don’t want to understand. They just want the results, the power that comes from knowledge.

Eight, for example, doesn’t care how a shrink ray works. He just wants me to build him one to crush his enemies. He doesn’t see the deeper potential. All he sees is s device that will add to his power. But a shrink ray could be so much more than that! You could, for example, drive to work, shrink your car, and put it in your pocket! Imagine, massive, ugly parking lots a thing of the past! But Eight…he just wants a toy.

I’m sensing a little animosity between you two.

Ha! I wonder why? If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say I’m jealous of him. Like…deeply jealous, like you have no idea how jealous.

Why is that?

You know how I study to protect myself? To solve problems? With him, he just jumps into life and survives and even thrives just fine. It’s maddening! It’s like the gods themselves have spoiled him and given him whatever he desires. He’s like my kryptonite!

You know my snake example earlier? For me, its like, I see the snake, run away, find out if its dangerous, and if it isn’t, I come back. The snake is harmless. I am safe. You know what Eight does? He just stomps the freaking thing. Problem solved.

You put me in a sales type job, and I’ll study how to be a good salesman, body postures, what colors to wear to make people want to buy, what techniques work, et cetera. How does Eight sell? He just does. He’s a natural leader. How do you learn that? You can’t. Its just an innate quality, and it makes a mockery of me.

Eight shows me how weak I am when I’m doing everything I can to make myself strong. The worst part is that Eight is totally oblivious to the fact that he is doing this. Just being around him is enough to make me feel like a worm.The rare times Eight is in real danger, he gets a few quick tips from people like me, a lahdeedah, he’s off being superman again. Like I said, maddening.

What do you think of your friends Four and Six?

Both of them are great for different reasons. Four is usually quiet like me. We both share a taste for abnormal things, and I’m really blown away by Four’s creativity! Her only real downside is that she seems like she’s trying too hard. Some people try too hard to follow the crowd. Four tries too hard to not follow the crowd. Me? I just don’t care.

How about Six?

Speaking of following the crowd, Six does exactly that, at least sort of. Six is very self-contradicting, very hard to understand. Like me, he spends a lot of time thinking. He just thinks in a different way. We both have trouble making up our minds sometimes. His deal is that he’s constantly asking others to make up his mind for him, which is pretty annoying. Like they know any better than he does!

He gathers knowledge on things too, but then he throws all that info out the window and relies on people he trusts. Speaking of trust, he’s kind of weird about it. It takes him a long to form a belief about someone. He’ll even be suspicious, bordering on paranoid with some people.

Then, when you finally enter his inner circle, his trust is unshakable. You could steal right out from under him and move to Mexico, and he’ll be like, “Its cool. I’ll be here when you get back.” If a stranger asks him for a pack of gum though, Six will look at him like the guy plans to stab him.

That all said, don’t get the wrong idea. Six is a fantastic, loyal, friend. He doesn’t always get my weird taste in stuff, but he’s always been there for me when I overwork myself or don’t take care of myself. Between the two of us, people should call us the anxiety twins.

Thank you for your time Five. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Uh…nope. I think that covers it.

Oh…okay?

Bye!

unique

Welcome everyone to part four of my nine part series where I interview each of the personalities of the Enneagram. Click the following links to see parts one, two, and three. Today, I am interviewing the Four, also known as the Individualist/ Romantic. Welcome Four.

Heya.

That’s an interesting choice of attire you have there.

You like it? I like clothing that just pops, you know? Check out my armband.

What is that? Is that…yak hair?

Human.

Gah!

Heheh, I love doing that. I bought this from an actual witch doctor. It’s one of a kind. I didn’t get this at some crappy hot topic.

Why would you even have something like that?

Because it’s special. For the witch doctor, this was a labor of love. You won’t see anyone else wearing something quite like this.

Okay, well that’s very true, I suppose. So what do you believe, Four?

I believe that people need to find and stay true to themselves, no matter how strange or weird that true self is.

Okay. Can you tell me more?

Yeah. I know people get tired of hearing words like “sheeple” and “the man”, but both of them apply pretty accurately to our society. So many people just follow the crowd and do what everyone else does, that its like, they don’t even know who they are.

You take your average Joe Schmoe from Accounting with his black suit and brick red power tie, and does that guy even know what he is anymore? All he does is what his boss, or company policy, or literally what anybody else tells him to do. There is no room for uniqueness, individuality or for person to be a person in an environment like that.

If I applied for a job with an exposed tattoo and pink hair, I would automatically be rejected before the interview stage, just because I didn’t fit their mold. It shouldn’t make a difference, but cowardly people need something to be afraid of, I guess.

So I hear there are quite a few stereotypes of you out there?

Oh God, yes, and all of them annoy me. Goth…emo, punk, hipster, indie…on and on it goes, and the internet has its fun. Of those, only hipster and indie come remotely close.

Why is that?

It’s like, all of these groups, they want to be individuals, but they’re doing it wrong. They’re joining groups in an attempt to be individual! That ruins the whole point! If you want to be the next Picasso, you don’t paint like Picasso. You paint like you! That’s what Picasso did.

The hipster thing is partially true, especially with things like bands and the like. I like bands that nobody else has listened to, or that have a very unique sound, because it feels like I am listening to something special. But again, when you find someone that has listened to the same obscure band that you have, its pretty cool. It’s almost like finding a soul mate…almost. It’s cool to find someone amongst the herd of sheep that get’s it.

Until that band becomes popular.

Well yeah, then it loses the specialness. That moment is gone.

So you purposely gravitate to obscure and unknown things so you can stay individual and unique?

Well yeah, I guess.

If that’s what you always do, doesn’t that make you predictable? Is it really individual to search out obscure and unique things all the time? Couldn’t it be that the most unpredictable and individual choice is to do something normal from time to time?

If everyone’s doing it, how is it unpredictable?

Hmm. Good point. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, why do you feel the need to “prove” your individuality? Shouldn’t that be a given?

If that’s true, then that means all those people who wear the exact same clothes from GAP, all the people who talk and act the same way, all of those people who are just stereotypes with legs…all of those people are individuals too. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into that.

Okay. So are there any personalities that get under your skin?

Oh yeah. Mr. Right and Wrong.

You mean One?

Yeah. Look, I get the whole “We need rules to protect society” thing. Really, I do, but One takes it too far. There’s so many unnecessary rules on the books. Most problems people can handle themselves, and if people do argue and dispute a little, so what?

One’s approach denies people from having many amazing experiences, both good and bad. I’m sorry to say, but that’s life. Plus, when everyone has to do what One says we should do when One says we should do it, individuality suffers.

Have you ever read “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest?” One is like nurse Ratched. He plays the “Good helping doctor,” but really he’s the craziest one in the nuthouse. You know how every snowflake is unique? Yeah. One can’t stand that. If One had his way, every snowflake would be the exact same so that no snowflake would feel left out.

Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration?

Hmph. Not much. Just treat it like a metaphor. One doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the way things are. He just wants all of the snowflakes to be the same, to keep them safe. Well, I’m safe enough, thank you. I like my life with a little risk and I don’t see the problem with that.

Okay. So tell me about your friends Three and Five.

Yeah, I’ll start with Three. At first glance, when I describe so-and-so with the red power tie and no soul, you’d probably think I was describing Three. I mean, you don’t get much more “The Man” than Three, right? Here’s the thing: He’s not really “The Man.”

Three is a guy playing the system for his own personal gain. He didn’t make the system. He is just manipulating it. That’s actually pretty cool and individualist if you think about it. He is like a chameleon, and yeah sometimes he’s a bastard who helps pass stupid laws, but I like to see him as kind of my student. The guy wants to be an individual so badly. You can see it. It’s this deep, underlying yearning he has. It’s like either he’s afraid to or he doesn’t know how. I try to set an example whenever I can. 🙂

How about Five?

Five is just a total nerd, and I have to admit, I gave a soft spot in my heart for geeks. Where I dress and act different to make a statement, he does it because he’s clueless and eccentric. (Those are compliments, by the way.)

The thing about Five is, he dresses however he feels because appearances don’t’ really matter to him. He’s too caught up in his head to worry about stuff like that. Like me, he acts strange, but for different reasons. I think he just has trouble understanding people. Honestly, I think he’s the only personality type that can come up with darker stuff than me.

There are things Five awkwardly blurts out that freak even me out, and that’s not easy to do. The weird thing is, he’s not even trying to. He just naturally thinks up stuff like that. He can come up with some really fascinating art, but it is usually too structured for my taste.

His biggest flaws are that he doesn’t always take care of himself, and he sometimes comes off as a know-it-all. His idea of fun is talking for hours on some obscure subject. Don’t get me wrong. He’s usually very quiet. Just don’t get him started on one of his fixations, or you won’t get him to stop.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up this interview?

Yeah. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or what you should be. You and only you get to decide that.

Thank you for your time, Four.

Cool beans.

successWelcome everyone to part three of my nine part series on the Enneagram. Click the links to see parts One and Two.

Today, I will be interviewing the Three, also known as the Motivator/ Achiever. Welcome.

Thanks, Livewithwonder. I’m really glad I was able to move my schedule around for this interview. At first, I didn’t think I would have time, but I told my secretary I’d just skip lunch again to do it.

Wow! Aren’t you hungry?

No. It’s alright. I always have a few health shakes handy for this very reason.

You sound like a very busy person.

Ha. You have no idea.

Okay, well since time is limited, let’s get down to it. What do you believe?

Ha! I like the way you think! In short, I believe in not being a loser. That probably sounds harsh but let me explain what I mean.

Go right ahead.

“Losers” are the kinds of people who don’t take any responsibility for their lives. They think because they had a terrible past or because mommy didn’t love them, that defines who they are. Losers are either lazy, stupid, or too caught up in little “moral dilemmas” to do what it takes to succeed. People can have all the toys they want, everything they could dream for, if they had the same work ethic, intelligence, and finesse as myself.

But somebody has to lose, right?

Of course. And they “lose” for the reasons I mentioned above. Look, it’s true that some people start off in those categories and then change for the better, but most of them don’t, and that’s the way of the world. Even if someone did get as good as me in all those things, they still wouldn’t knock me off my roost, because I’d find a way to be better. I don’t let myself lose.

What about morality and ethics?

What about them? Look, morality and ethics are all fine and good, but they are an invention of society. They have no place in the business world. Also, news flash: people like me tend to change the laws to what we see fit anyway. If you rely on the law to guide your morality, well let’s just say there’s so many “immoral” laws on the books, so many loopholes that it all sounds like a joke.

What about those who get their morality ideas outside the law?

Oh, you mean idealists? They’re on no higher ground. Say an idealist manages the impossible and gets a good, solid, “moral” law on the books. It means nothing. No matter how tightly written the law is, smart people will find a way around it or work it to  their advantage.

So all you care about is your own success?

I don’t think I’d go quite that far. I care about my own success first, then I help others. Doing the “right thing” is a trap if that’s all you aim for. Ideally I prefer win-win situations.

I mean, it’s not like I’m some selfish jerk hogging all the success at others’ expense. They chose their fate and I chose mine. I once read this book titled “Who Moved my Cheese?” It’s an allegory about these mice in a maze. The mice get used to finding their cheese in the exact same spot at the maze everyday. One day, the cheese moves. Some mice sit around lamenting, “Who moved my cheese? Wah! Boo-hoo!” The smart mice waste no time, turn around, and start looking elsewhere.

So you’re saying people who aren’t successful don’t use their time efficiently.

Or they don’t care, or they get distracted by their emotions, or they don’t network, etc. There are many reasons people don’t succeed in life, but people who do succeed in life do so because they do all the right things, and yes, some of that involves being a little selfish. It’s fine to care about others and even help others (Plus, it makes you look good. Reputation is vital to success,) as long as you follow two rules. 1) Be selective about who you help, lest that person drags you down. 2) Make sure you’ve taken care of yourself first.

Some would argue that you do more than just take care of yourself.

Why? Because of my nice car? Or my $100 hairdo? Or my sleek clothes? People who say that don’t get my reasons behind all those things. A huge part of being successful is constantly projecting the image of success. That’s why I spend top dollar on something like business cards, which may seem silly to some, but to me they are vital. My whitened teeth make me look more successful, which makes people more willing to listen to what I have to say. Dropping a couple hundred bucks in a fancy restaurant with some business associates is worth the investment. It’s not like I’m dropping random money on solid gold jacuzzis just to know what it feels like. That’s Seven’s department. For me, there’s a method to the madness.

What would you say to the people who say success isn’t everything?

I would call them deluded. How could success not be everything? Without some level of power and influence, you’re doomed to be miserable. I would hardly call living on the streets a happy existence. Life is like a game, and the object of games is to WIN.

Would you say you’re happy now?

Well…I’m better than the alternative, that’s for sure.

I sensed a little hesitation in your voice. What would you say are your flaws?

Well, I’m Three, so I don’t have any. That said, there are a few things that bother me.

Shoot.

Well, when you’re me, you have to be different things to different people. You have to wear masks, and your personality has to have a certain flexibility. I don’t even try to do it, I just sort of naturally do. It’s all part of playing the game. The thing is, when I’m alone, it’s like I don’t even know how to take the masks off anymore. I really don’t even know what it means to be me. I know that seems a strange thing to think about, but it’s like the only real personality I have is the personality people want me to have. It’s such a weird feeling…I mean, it’s not all bad. Like I said, better than the alternative. Better than being a loser, but still, it’s weird. It’d be nice not to worry about that all the time.

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?

Well, it’s not so much a matter of getting along, but Six just annoys the crap out of me.

Why is that?

You know all those little bullshit rules and policies I make to look good and keep my competitors busy? Six reads them and follows them all to the letter, ALL of them.

How is that bad for you?

It’s not just that he obeys them, it’s the extent to which he obeys them. Every meeting, if there’s the slightest contradiction between two policies, be sure that Six will bring it up, and then I’ll have to make up some bullshit policy ABOUT my bullshit policy just to settle the matter. The guy is taxing, and frankly, he wastes my time. If I go against my own rule in even the slightest way, Six acts like I’ve personally betrayed him.

The worst part is, it’s not like he even does this to get ahead or eek out some advantage. At least then, I could respect him. He’s like this little lost puppy that needs to be told everything to do. I mean, sure, One does his fair share of rules mongering as well, but at least he has values. Six just follows the rules without questioning them (or alternatively, questioning them nonstop to make sure he understands them perfectly,) because “That’s what he’s supposed to do.”

I could tell Six to walk off a cliff right now, and he’s look at me unsure. I would reassure him and then he’d walk right off! No questions asked. And then, if he somehow survived, he’d be bitter at me for “misleading” him so. Well, no duh, you idiot! What were you expecting?

It’s like Six is completely oblivious to the whole “game” aspect of life. When I inevitably mislead him, about something (because that’s what you have to do to get ahead), it just wrecks him completely, and well come on , I don’t need that on my conscience.

Tell me about your friends, Two and Four.

Two is very social and very warm. Her only real ulterior motive is for people to like her, so I like to visit her to get away from the usual “Pit of Vipers.”

“Pit of vipers.” Don’t you kind of create that for yourself with your philosophy?

Maybe, but I own up to that. Like I said, it’s all part of playing the game. Still, it’s nice to be able to take a break and let your guard down now and then.

And Two let’s you do that?

Yeah. I also like that she cares about her appearance and social standing. I really get that. She may not have a “winner” philosophy, but we both like to help and give back to the community. I just prefer to have a camera near me when I do it.

How about Four?

You know, Four is unlike me is so many ways, and I think that’s what I like about her. She takes all that stuff I say about competing, appearances, and masks, throws it all out the window and does her own thing. She acts how she wants, dresses how she wants, and doesn’t care who she offends. That’s got to be liberating, and I certainly respect her for it. Is it successful? Not always, but she fails beautifully and gracefully. When she succeeds, she wins big, but more often than not, she fails, because that’s what happens when you tread new ground and do controversial things. I’d almost be jealous of her if it wasn’t for that little fact.

Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Yes. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking there’s something wrong with being successful. There isn’t. If you care as much as I do, and do what successful people do, there’s no reason you shouldn’t deserve to succeed in life.

Thank you for your time today Three.

My pleasure. Speaking of time, I think I have a meeting I need to get to. Goodbye.

Goodbye.

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Welcome everybody to the second of my nine part series where I interview each of the nine personalities of the Enneagram. Click here to view my article on the One.

Today I am interviewing the Two, also known as the Helper/Giver. How are you today?

Wonderful! Thank you for asking!

My pleasure.

Here, would you like some tea? Coffee?

Oh ah…no thank you.

How about some lemonade? Cookies?

Oh, well…those cookies do look good. But…I shouldn’t.

I insist!

Well, if you insist. Thank you very much.

I aim to please!

I hear you take a lot of pride in that.

I really do. Pleasing others and making them happy is one of the great pleasures in life.

Why do you think that is?

Well, isn’t it obvious? Wait, I take that back. It’s not always that obvious to everyone, but it’s obvious to me. I mean, how can pleasing and helping others not be one of the greatest pleasures? Not enough people give their time, money, and energy to helping others. They spend their days miserable and they wonder why that is. It’s because they are missing out on some of life’s greatest joys!

What do you believe?

To really answer that, I have to first ask you a question.

Well, okay I suppose…

What’s the most important thing in the world?

Well, that’s a good question. There’s a lot of different ways to answer it-

Love.

Love?

Yes. Love is the most important thing in the world.

Love. That’s all?

Well there are other things…family, togetherness, generosity, children putting smiles on each others faces, but really all of things boil down to love.

Isn’t that oversimplifying things a little?

Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s not true. Besides, I’d hardly call love simple. Just an act as simple as giving a gift requires so much forethought. First, you have to get a feel for their personality, their likes and dislikes. Then, you have to probe to find out what kinds of things they already own. Then, if you’re buying multiple gifts, what I personally like to do is make a common “theme” between the gifts, you know, just to make it extra special. Does that really sound simple to you?

Well, no I guess not, when you put it that way. I guess acts of love are easy to learn but take a lifetime to master.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

What would you say our your greatest flaws?

Well, I don’t like to admit this, but I sometimes try too hard. Sometimes, I throw my whole self into helping someone, and it just backfires. Either the person doesn’t want my help (even though they need it) or they take and take without giving back, without so much as saying thank you. You know, I don’t really “expect” people to love me back, but…it would be nice you know? To know you’re appreciated once in a while?I try not to take it personal when people act that way, but I’ll be honest. It hurts.It’s hard. I guess I sometimes set myself up for feeling this way, but I don’t care. I’m here to help people, and I’m not going to let a few insensitive jerks get in the way of that.

Some of your critics describe an additional negative quality.

Ugh, I don’t even want to know who. (sigh) Alright, what do they say?

Well, they say you’re manipulative.

What? How?

They say that when you do nice things or say nice things, you do it purposely to make others love you.

Of all the cynical things to say! It’s not like I’m a con artist trying to get money out of people! I try to treat others with as much love and kindness as I can. Is it really that out of line to expect the same from others?

So you don’t think you’re manipulative?

Look, if loving others so they love you back is manipulative, then I say I’m guilty as charged, and proud of it.

Isn’t the whole idea of love that it comes from the heart with no strings attached? If you expect loving behavior to return to you, doesn’t that rob people out of the chance to surprise you with truly loving acts?

Ugh. That sounds like something Four would say.

Sounds like you two don’t get along very well?

Errr, no. Not exactly. I mean, I try to get along, but…for one, she’s really quiet, and two, she’s kind of self-absorbed, sort of the opposite of what I aim to be. For me, I’ll dress or act in ways that I know will make people happy and bring smiles to their faces. Four, on the other hand, will behave or dress in ways that deliberately anger others, just to get a rise out of them. She is obsessed with this idea that she can’t fit in no matter what, and frankly, she doesn’t care what others think.

I try to be friends with her. Really, I try. I once invited her to a formal dinner party (big mistake) with a few of my friends. She showed up in this weird, almost goth-like attire, tattoes and piercings everywhere, and then she hardly socialized the entire evening. She spent most of the party huddled in a corner, writing what I presume was some poetry. Not really sure. Anyway, she hardly spoke five words. Now how can I make someone like her happy if she won’t even talk?

Tell me about your friends, one and three.

One is a good guy, and I like how he’s always willing to offer a helping hand. It’s a shame he’s such a stickler for the rules though. Don’t get me wrong. Rules are great and they help protect people, but One follows the rules even if the rules hurt people. Sometimes, doing the most loving thing involves bending the rules. We don’t always see eye to eye, but love and order do go hand in hand. It’s hard to treat others with love and dignity if they are fighting and attacking each other like animals.

What about three?

A lot of people think it’s strange that I’m friends with Three. At first glance it seems like we have nothing in common. I know he doesn’t seem to be of the most loving nature, but he can be when he wants to be. He can actually be a very helpful and generous member of society. It’s just that he sometimes does nice things to look good rather than, you know, out of a sincere desire to help people.

Three appeals to a different side to me. He understands that the occasional lie can protect people sometimes. He’s a great storyteller and fantastic guest. He just doesn’t always have much time. He’s always on the go. I sometimes wish he’d slow down and enjoy life a little, but it’s like life is a competition to him and he has to be the best.

Do you have anything else to add before we finish here?

Going so soon? Well, I would say the most important thing is to focus on what matters, spending time with your loved ones. Nothing is more important in my opinion. Now, before you go, why don’t you take the rest of those cookies home to your family?

Oh I couldn’t do that…

I insist! Besides, I have more in the oven!

Thank you.

My pleasure.

enneagram-logo-yellow-dark-no1Welcome everybody to the first of my nine part series where I interview each of the nine personalities of the Enneagram. If you recall from some of my past articles, the Enneagram explores nine common ego archetypes that tend to appear again and again throughout human history, and the relationship these types have with each other. While we all have traits that match some of the Enneagram types, most people tend to favor one type more than any of the others. Each has their own outlook and way of life, and hopefully, through these interviews, you can get a better understanding of these basic ego types and how the effect us and interact with us.

Today I am interviewing the One, also known as the Reformer / Perfectionist. Welcome.

Thank you, Livewithwonder, for the opportunity and forum to express my concerns.

Concerns? What kind of concerns?

My main concerns are the problems of society, and the sheer number of problems society has seem endless. It is a real spiritual battlefield out there, and somebody needs to bring the order.

Is that somebody you?

I try.

I suppose this is a good time to ask you what it is you believe?

Fantastic. I would be happy to answer it. (By the way, your tie is crooked). I believe we need to work toward a more orderly, perfect world. There are so many wicked people out there, so many willing to cut corners. If we are all going to build a better world for ourselves, one that is fair and orderly, then everyone needs to pitch in. Not even one person can afford to be selfish, because that little grain of selfishness is all it takes to ruin it for everybody. Selfishness has to be stamped out. If people aren’t willing to do the right thing, they have to be stopped. They have to be corrected, pure and simple.

Opponents of your philosophy might ask who you are or what makes you so special to tell others what they can or cannot do.

See I don’t get that. To me it seems the obvious thing to build a better world, but I guess most people are too short-sighted or selfish.

Do you feel like you are better than them because of that?

Look, I’m aware that I’m not perfect. Believe me, I’m dreadfully aware, more than you know. Sometimes, I can’t stop beating myself up when I screw up, but I care at least. Too many people don’t care. Too many are unscrupled. One does not need to be perfect, so long as you are actually working toward perfection. Perfection is divine. What is the old saying? Cleanliness is next to godliness. You could argue that cleanliness is a form of perfection.

You like things very clean?

Creating a better world starts with one’s immediate environment. You cannot help others do the right thing if you are constantly distracted by things like dirt or clutter. You have to push and make things right for yourself before you can move on and help others.

What would you say are your greatest flaws?

Well, I really don’t like the word “flaw”, and I’m really hesitant to admit this, but I care so much about what I believe that I tend to be a bit, um, abrasive. I’ll admit that I’ve gotten into a shouting match or two when others didn’t see eye to eye with me, but some attitudes are just destructive and they need to be extinguished. It’s hard to get others to see your point of view when it involves telling them they are wrong about something or that they need to improve themselves, but it’s often the truth and needed for the greater good.

Tell me more about the people you argue with.

The evils of recklessness and deliberate deceit must be purged from our society. People like to act like it’s all about me as a way to villianize me, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s about us. It’s about society. It’s about what is best for everybody. The world is like a giant frat house where nobody wants to do the dishes. Well somebody’s got to, or guess what happens? Mold grows, ants crawl all over the kitchen, people eat everything out of paper plates or (groan) their hands. If we don’t discipline ourselves to be civilized, we become like animals. I’m not about to let that happen. If that comes off as disliking others or talking down to them, then so be it. I’m sorry, but it has to be said, doesn’t it?

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along well with?

Well, I’m not a gossip, but for the sake of getting things off my chest there is. Seven just drives me up the wall. You want to talk about selfish and reckless people? Seven is it. All he cares about is partying! Have you ever heard the fable of the ants and the cricket? It’s a story where the ants spend all of fall storing up food for the winter while the grasshopper just sings and plays his songs. Come winter, the ants have food and shelter and the cricket is just hopping around asking the ants to help him.

Seven is that cricket. He let’s others work hard, blows his money on pointless things, and then makes others help him when he inevitably gets himself in trouble. I don’t think seven can be serious about anything. It’s annoying. To continue with my metaphor, he would be the guy at the frat house who dirties all of his dishes and never goes back to clean them ever again, waiting for everyone else to clean up after him. If he would just care and stop wasting his life! Ugh.

Tell me about the two personalities you do get along well with, the nine and the two.

Nine is all about peace and unity, which I totally stand behind. Nine helps me relax. She’s just a great personality to talk to and be around and she values similar things as me. The only problem with her, respectfully, is that she has no backbone. I don’t even know what she really believes because she’s so wishy-washy. She’ll help me out, but I wish she stood up for her beliefs more often now and then. Still, she’s a wonderful friend, and I’m happy to know her.

Two cares about love, and will bend over backwards to help anybody. I really love that about her. Unlike nine, she’s willing to stand up for what she believes. She definitely cares, and she’s warm and friendly. Her biggest problem is that she’s a little needy at times. It’s like she expects people to do nice things for her because she does for them. I try to repay the favor, but it bothers me when others don’t. She takes it so personally and I feel bad for her.

The other thing about two is that she let’s her ideas about love confuse her and pull her away from doing the right thing from time to time. If people don’t return her love she freaks out (behind closed doors). I wish she would stop worrying so much about what people think of her and just do the right thing. That all said, she’s a fantastic friend, and everyone has their, erhm, flaws.

Is there anything else you’d like to share before we wrap this up?

I just want to encourage people to look to the vision, and focus on the overarching goal. We are building a better world, a world that is safer, where everyone can have their needs filled, but we need to work together.

Thank you for your time today one.

I should be the one thanking you for helping to tell my side of the story. Hopefully you understand it better.

I certainly do. Thank you.

You’re welcome. By the way, you have some spinach in your teeth.

I have been thinking lately about those who criticize spirit science. I’m not talking about the critics who are skeptical of certain ideas we have. To be fair, some of the ideas we offer do seem to be pretty “out there”, and each person is entitled to their own opinion. Those aren’t the brand of critics I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the group of people who come from a place of deep pain. People who have experienced traumatic experiences in their youth and who snort at the idea of these happy-go-lucky so called “spirit people”. I’m talking about the people who see us as naive because our bright and sunny outlook doesn’t match the horrible experiences that they have witnessed in their lives, who cynically laugh at the idea of “All our pain is an illusion.”

I’m not going to lie. Life is painful. Anyone who says otherwise is either trying to delude you or is deluded. The mere act of being born brings pain to the mother. Pain is an honest fact of life. You are not responsible for your pain. It often comes to us whether we want it or not.

However: you are responsible for your suffering.

Perhaps you’re thinking “hold the fort, what’s the difference?”

To answer the question, I’m going to once again rely of the words of my Buddhist friend Barking Unicorn. “To see the difference between pain and suffering, bring a puppy to a cancer ward. You will see many people in pain, but no suffering.”

The story of Viktor Frankl

Stephen Covey in His Bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” writes about the story of Viktor Frankl, a man who spent three years in various concentration camps including Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau.

According to Wikipedia Frankl’s  “best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism, and originally published in 1946 as Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager), chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate based on his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. Frankl was one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists

In other words, the guy was both a badass and an inspiration. It’s not often you get both in one person. Here’s a quote from Frankl about his time in the Nazi prison camps.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked throughout the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Even when every thing else in your life is out of your control, even if you become a slave, you still have the right to choose your outlook.

We are not Pavlov’s dogs

The human mind is a powerful thing, and a key to achieving that power is awareness. There is a chain that is frequently mentioned in the psychology of behavior. That chain is:

stimulus – thought – result.

The stimuli is the initial thing that happens, the “cause” if you will. Thought is how you individually process the stimuli. Result is what happens because of the chain. Sometimes, we have control of all three, but we always have control of “thought”, provided we are aware and stubborn enough, and humans are good at being stubborn. 🙂

Most of the time, we get caught up in these stimulus – result chains without even giving thought to what control systems are in place that make us live the way we do. That’s where awareness comes in. If you are aware that someone’s putting you into a Skinner box, so to speak, then you become empowered to resist it.

Take Ghandi for example. Here is a man that willingly starved himself to fight for a higher cause he believed in. If he had the mere awareness of a rat, he would never have been able to accomplish what he did. He would have begun to search for food in a panicked state. But Ghandi used the ability that all humans have, or at least have the potential to have. He used his thought (and stubbornness) to ignore the stimulus of hunger, to ignore the stimulus that he was starving to death.

At the end of the day, suffering comes from what you think of the pain. Suffering is related to thought, and thus can be controlled. With meditation and focus, you can transmute the pain in your life to something different, something beautiful.

Until next time, hang in there, and know that I’m right there with you.