From stress-busting techniques to digital detoxes, sometimes analog life is the best life. And if you want to learn something new, you actually have to go old-school. Take Chelsea Handler’s recent obsession: a book her psychiatrist turned her on to, The Essential Enneagram. Published 18 years ago and based off of a centuries-old understanding of personality types, “This book is great if you’re in love with yourself and can’t wait to find out more,” funny gal Handler wrote on Vulture.
The ancient Enneagram system, named for the geometric figure with nine points, can be traced all the way back to 4th century Christian mysticism. And according to The Essential Enneagram authors David Daniels, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School, and counseling psychologist Virginia Price, “Discovering your Enneagram personality type can help you learn how to bring positive change into your life…It can help change the way you relate to yourself and others as well as give you a greater understanding of the circumstances and issues facing you.”
A personality system similar to Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram “inventory” describes nine different personality types. However, instead of taking a quiz to reveal your type, The Essential Enneagram has you read nine brief paragraphs and choose three that you most identify with. Then, you read more detailed descriptions of those three types to find the one that best describes you. So, unlike Myers Briggs, you’re less likely to spend twenty minutes answering amorphous questions only to potentially end up with a “That’s me? Really?!?” kind of result.
The book delves deeply into each type’s primary fears, needs, and motivations and offers suggested “practices” for each: exercises you can do for a few weeks or more that will help play up inherent strengths and play down any weaknesses.
Keep reading to learn more about the nine Enneagram types.
One: The Perfectionist
“Ones are described as ‘neat freaks’ and as ‘inflexible,'” write Daniels and Price in The Essential Enneagram. They are not the type to stay out past curfew or drink too much at the office happy hour.
Loves: Getting it right.
Hates: Losing control.
Two: The Giver
A Two is a person who is amazing at “sensing the emotional needs of others and doing what pleases them,” write Daniels and Price. A Two will quite literally give you the shirt off their back—sometimes “generous” seems like an understatement.
Loves: Making other people happy.
Hates: Disappointing people or feeling unappreciated.
Three: The Performer
A Three could be a role model on LinkedIn and someone with #goals written in all their Instagram comments. Obsessed with success and the good image that comes with it, Threes focus their attention on “all the things that have to be done and the most efficient solutions,” write Daniels and Price.
Loves: Competing—and winning.
Hates: Being overshadowed.
Four: The Romantic
Way too sensitive for Tinder, but just can’t seem to stop swiping…sound familiar? Fours are bold and dramatic and always looking for love and deeper connections.
Hates: Feeling misunderstood.
Five: The Observer
These private types can seem detached, but they’re exactly the ones you want around in a crisis. Fives are self-sufficient, analytical, and interested in problem-solving. They often come across as “unemotional, clear, and analytical,” write Daniels and Price.
Loves: Thinking through issues.
Hates: Strong feelings, especially fear.
Six: The Loyal Skeptic
These folks might often be perceived as pessimistic, but they’ll tell you they’re just being realistic. Win the trust of a Six and they’ll be loyal for life.
Loves: Playing the devil’s advocate, but then dedicating themselves to underdog causes.
Hates: Feeling helpless.
Seven: The Epicure
The sun is always shining when a Seven is around. Eternal optimists and charm machines, Sevens can be found “engaging in pleasurable activities or imagining all the fascinating possibilities for the future,” write Daniels and Price.
Loves: Using their imagination and saying “yes” to everything.
Hates: Frustrations, complaints, and limitations.
Eight: The Protector
Always the first (and last) to talk at a meeting, Eights were born doing “power poses.” They are direct, decisive, and often dominant, but are also great at motivating others.
Loves: Control, dominance, and direct action.
Hates: Being weak or vulnerable.
Nine: The Mediator
Nines are always making sure that absolutely everyone in the room is happy and included. Harmony and compromise are the name of the game, and Nines are most fulfilled when paying attention to others.
Loves: Keeping life comfortable and familiar.
Hates: Conflict, confrontation, and competition.
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