We all have strengths and weaknesses.
We are going to be better at certain things and worse at others, and much of this is based on our personal temperament. The Big Five Traits study is a good way to measure personality type and can be used as a great tool in uncovering our strengths.
What is the Big Five?
The Big Five is an interpretive model for behavior that breaks down the dimensions of human personality into five distinct traits that are rooted in both heritability and socio-cultural influences, each trait acting as a spectrum between itself and its opposing characteristic.
The five traits have been defined as the following:
1. Openness to experience (characterized by curiosity, as opposed to cautiousness)
2. Extraversion (characterized by sociability, as opposed to shyness)
3. Agreeableness (characterized by friendliness, as opposed to being antagonistic)
4. Neuroticism (characterized by sensitivity and nervousness, as opposed to assertiveness)
5. Conscientiousness (characterized by efficiency, as opposed to carelessness)
We all fall somewhere along the spectrum of each of these traits. For instance, with the trait “openness,” I am probably somewhere in the middle, between curious and cautious. I would guess that I am relatively high in the trait “neuroticism,” as well as trait “conscientiousness.” We can determine where we fall on this scale through a number of online tests.
Nothing is set in stone, but considering that much our personality is determined by biological and early childhood factors, that makes it really f*cking hard to change.
It doesn’t make sense to try and fundamentally change our personality. It’s sort of like the reverse ego effect: “I don’t like my ego, so I’ll just choose another one.” We can’t just choose a new personality like we would pick out a new pair of socks, but what we can do is try to improve the personality we are already working with.
Let’s not change who we are. Let’s upgrade who we are.
It is just personality anyway. Stuff happened to us as a child, an infant, or a fetus, and it gave us certain personality traits. We are all kind of weird in our own way, and that’s just fine. Don’t mistake personality for soul.
So, here’s the deal. We can use what we know about our personality type to better navigate through the world and develop stronger relationships in our lives.
For example, if we find that we are high in the trait “openness,” but we have a boring job, then it is probably a good idea to bring some creative outlets into our lives. Let’s say we are high in the trait “conscientiousness,” but have a chaotic and disorganized lifestyle. It would probably make sense for us to write down some lists and make a daily schedule for ourselves. We can only judge any of this based on how it makes us feel.
We should always be asking ourselves two essential questions: “What is missing in my life?”—and “What is no longer serving me?” In the words of the great Bruce Lee, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless.”
Things to keep in mind:
1. We have a personality with both limitations and strengths.
2. The Big Five Trait study is a good way of measuring our personality.
3. Once we have a sense of our personality—either through taking a personality test or just by thinking deeply about where we might fall along the spectrum of these traits—then we can begin adjust our lifestyle to best serve our strengths.
4. We can add and subtract things in accordance with our personality traits and with how we feel about the movement our lives.
5. Lastly, realize that our personality is not a prison—because understanding how we are and what we are like is the key to our liberation. We can finally look at ourselves honestly and begin work with ourselves as we are, instead of being confined by the self-image of how we would like ourselves to be. It is always better to be most ourselves, than to try to be someone else.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Unsplash/Benjamin Voros
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May