“One tree is like another tree, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether. More or less like people—a general outline, then the stunning individual strokes.”
– Mary Oliver
As I prepare to move back to the US, there are a lot of not fun things that need to happen – the packing, the administration of closing accounts and opening new ones, and most obviously leaving behind some of the best friends I’ve ever had. It’s been a lot of work and a bittersweet experience so far, but of course there are many things on the other hand to look forward to – including most importantly being close to my family finally. It’ll be fun going back to where I grew up, spending time with some of my old friends and owning our first house! It’s been exciting so far to make interior design plans and decisions in terms of renovations, appliances, and of course – colors! One of the most visually appealing things in the world, in my humble opinion, is a paint color wheel. I love the subtle progression from one gradient to the next and although I am completely overwhelmed, I am also completely enamored with the limitless shades and hues that can exist. And as I consider just what a dramatic difference it truly makes whether something is more cool gray blue or more dusty steel blue, I am reminded of why exactly I decided to conduct my “Personality Project.”
After a bachelors degree in general psychology, I knew I needed to further specialize if I were to continue onward (in the end, I switched gears entirely to pursue an MBA). My key areas of interest were in social psychology and personality psychology (truth be told if I had known it were an option, I probably would have even then gone into positive psychology, but alas the field was still in its infancy at that point). The concept of personality and all the very subtle ways that it influences us and our experience of life is deeply fascinating to me. As Enneagram experts Riso and Hudson argue “any effective approach to growth must… take into account the fact that there are different kinds of people – different personality types…. While our restless yearnings may be universal, how they are expressed is much more particular and is, in fact, a function of the ‘filter’ with which we approach all of life. The main filter that we use to understand ourselves and the world around us, to express ourselves, to defend ourselves, to deal with our past and anticipate our future, to learn with, to rejoice with, and to fall in love with, is our personality type.” Just as is in color, there are never-ending gradients of personality types, each with ever so slight differences in each dimension making us who we are as individuals.
Throughout my Happiness Project last year, I found over and over that what provides a meaningful boost to my positive affect is not necessarily what is considered general knowledge or common sense. Although it seems obvious, there are many ways that we make ourselves unhappy or even miserable by wrongly assuming that everyone loves XYZ and thus we must too. As the inspiration for my project, Gretchen Rubin claimed “[we] can build a happy life only on the foundation of [our] own [nature.” Thus a big component of my Happiness Project was getting to know myself, my preferences, and personality better. In doing so, I reignited my former passion for personality theory and have now been enthusiastically learning everything I can about different frameworks and the research that support them in what I am calling my Personality Project.
Some approaches are much more scientific than others but I am being relatively indiscriminate in the theories and models that I am studying which has been interesting especially when I find clear examples of a particular type in my friends, family, or acquaintances. Just as the Happiness Project helped me to understand myself better, my Personality Project seems to be increasing my awareness, understanding and appreciation for others. Although I try to be empathetic, like so many others, it can be hard for me to fully grasp another’s completely foreign worldview and perspective. Therefore, at a basic level, my aim is to better understand the various different types of people which exist and begin to recognize patterns in their behaviors and natures which will undoubtedly serve to help me become a better communicator, more patient and hopefully a better friend/wife/daughter/sister/colleague, etc.
It’s pretty impossible to please everyone, but knowing a bit about the lens they’re likely experiencing life through seems like it can only help. And I’ve very much appreciated the fact that although most models consist of 4, 5, 9, 16 (etc.) types, they also describe the potentially varying levels and shades along on the continuum for each, because – people are complex. However, these Paleo Zucchini Brownies are not. And I would also argue that they might put up a good fight in the “pleasing everyone” department as well. They are simply delicious and perfect for any time of year as a cleaner dessert or treat option.
- Creamy Almond Butter 1 cup (250 g)
- Grated Zucchini/Courgette 1.5 cup (225 g)
- Honey .33 cup (115 g)
- Egg 1 each
- Baking Soda 1 TSP
- Cinnamon 1 TSP
- Nutmeg .5 TSP
- Allspice .5 TSP
- Dark Chocolate Chunks (I just chopped up 85% dark chocolate into small pieces) 1 cup (150 g)
- Melted Coconut Oil to grease pan
- Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and prepare a 9 x 9 baking pan by brushing some melted coconut oil along bottom and sides to grease.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring well to mix and then pour into the pan.
- Bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes (or until center comes out clean with the toothpick test!).
- Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!