You're probably already familiar with a bunch of different ways to characterize personality, from the Big 5 framework to Myers-Briggs types to the various "What's your spirit animal?" style quizzes popular with glossy magazines. And you probably also know roughly where you fit in according to each.
But has knowing these personality classification schemes actually changed your behavior? Has it helped you navigate the world?
As entertaining as these quizzes are, the answer is often no. Most of us already know if we're introverts or extroverts, neurotic or disinclined to worry, a lion or a lamb, before we answer a few multiple-choice questions. Having your suspicions confirmed is satisfying, but it doesn't really suggest how you might change for the better.
Happiness expert and author Gretchen Rubin swears her framework is different. In her latest book The Four Tendencies, she breaks people down into, you guessed it, four tendencies that describe how we respond to obligations (both outer and inner) and that can actually help you live better and reach your goals.
Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?
First, what do these terms mean? Here's how Rubin explains the four types in a nutshell on her website:
- Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations;
- Questioners question all expectations; they'll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense;
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike;
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
Second, how can you find out which you are? That's equally easy. Rubin has put together a free, quick quiz that you can take online in just a couple of minutes.
How can "the four tendencies" improve your life?
The important question -- the one that sets this system apart from your everyday "Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?" quiz (go ahead and click, I won't judge--I'm apparently Arya Stark) is that knowing which tendency describes you can help you better design systems for getting stuff done, and that means more success with less stress.
For example, as Rubin explained to Business Insider, if you know you're a people-pleasing Obliger, you might consider getting a workout buddy to stick with your gym habit. Those of this personality type might neglect themselves, but they'll think twice before bailing on a buddy.
If you're a Rebel, you'll probably respond terribly to hectoring (from yourself or others) about what you ought to do, but if you conceive of a new initiative as a way to express your identity rather than an obligation, you're likely go all in. As Rubin explains in this LinkedIn post, this change worked for one rebel mom, who flipped her thinking on health, stopped resenting the usual nagging advice, and managed to finally get in great shape.
Questioners can benefit from knowing they need to walk a tightrope between over-analysis and gathering enough information to be personally convinced of the merits of a particular new habit. And Upholders? You guys were probably good to go before reading this post, so consider your classification simply a confirmation of your always get-stuff-done ways.