Monday, January 20, 2014

Cheese Whiz (also) Adds Personality

"Cheese Whiz adds (bom) Personality, personality...." Da, da da da.

That little jingle is ingrained in my consciousness and I didn't even grow up with TV. So why would the Cheese Whiz people choose to market their brand with the word "Personality?"
Without cheese whiz, you have a bland, boring, insignificant piece of toast, or bread, or cracker. (Actually, without cheese whiz you avoid instant clogging of the arteries, but let's pretend we don't know that.)

WITH cheese whiz, you have Zinggg!! Spark! Fun! Taste! A certain 'joie de vivre', if I may.
WITHOUT it, you lack that defining characteristic that makes things interesting, that makes a robot human, that gives worth and meaning to life. Very important stuff!!

I've always been fascinated by personality.

Why do some people see things so differently than I do? Why do they act so strange?

Personality is sometimes called temperament. The word 'temperament' is used to describe those innate traits that are genetically implanted -- the backbone of personality, so to speak. All the learned behaviors, coping mechanisms and those traits acquired by environment and influence -- those are the flesh and face of temperament, or what the world sees when they see you.

How many people do you know who have been hired at once, with perhaps no skill for the job whatever, and you know it was because they had a naturally warm, pleasing personality? Or maybe there is a great friend that you overlooked for awhile, because you couldn't get past the cool, aloof exterior.

Why does Mrs. Perfect make Christmas lists galore and yet never seems to be quite ready for the party, and certainly can't enjoy it?
And why does Mrs. Nutso, who can't remember or make a list for the life of her, throw an enormous, splendid bash that folks remember for years?

How come the guy sitting by himself at the party turns out to be a witty conversationalist who keeps you fascinated for two straight hours?
And how come the grinning host who took your coats and bags when you came in, then sat you down graciously, spends the whole evening arguing vehemently with another guest? Not to mention you noticed him criticizing his poor wife for her hap-hazard, though colorful, attire.

It's a party, all right. Life is full of personality.

I enjoy studying what makes people tick. It has helped immensely in both understanding myself and others. I have more patience for fellow-travelers on this journey, and more grace for our collective idiosyncrasies.

Does this get people off the hook for being nasty, ridiculous, edgy, or petty? Nope.

One of the most frustrating things is hearing someone cover their mistake or laziness with "Oh, that's just the way I am!"  Or, they cannot be persuaded to look at things from an angle other than their own. "That's the way I see it." is their final, smug word. And if you try to point out the trench they have dug around themselves....good luck. They are intently focused on the thin slice of truth directly in front of their eyes.

Now, if you have a certain temperament, there are certain temperaments which will naturally drive you crazy. It will be great fun when we get to that part of the discussion. Also, there is one temperament which scoffs at the study of personality and we can have a good laugh at them because they will never read this far down the blog.
And perhaps most important, there is never just one type of personality in a person. We are each a blend, or a mix even, though generally there is one dominant temperament - one that stands out more from the others.

So here begins a little study of the temperaments. A human exploration, if you will.

Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine, Phlegmatic
Though there are several modern personality theories, I've found the most helpful to be the original four temperaments suggested by the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC).

Phlegmatic by Lespagnandelle,
Grande Commande, Palace of Versailles. 

These four were developed further by Galen (AD 131-200), and elaborated on by thinkers, psychologists and scientists up to the present day. Some well-known contributors are Immanuel Kant (1700's) and Ethan Fromm (1947). More recently, we have the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Meyer Friedman's Type A and B, which was used in cardiology to determine risk factor for heart disease. But let's not get bogged down in the history or the details!

(though if you're interested, I recommend looking it up  - fascinating stuff.)

We must begin with the Cholerics, because they would insist upon it. Though rarely, as suggested earlier, does a true Choleric give this kind of thing the time of day, let alone study it. Perhaps the Phlegmatic could convince one, but only by their subtlety and wit...

Stay tuned for the next post about the Choleric personality. (IF I can carve out an hour to do it; this morning I am pushing back an avalanche of responsibility in order to hold my computer in my arms....)

In the meantime, what is my personality? I'll tell you one thing, I was the most surprised of all.



  1. Pam you are awesome! you made me laugh so hard I choked on my trail mix!!! Looking forward to the next blog!

  2. yahoo!! (except don't choke! :D)


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