Your personality . . . what is it exactly? Aside from the usual adjectives of fun or moody or sunny or temperamental or intense or Type A or laid back or . . . what exactly? What does it really mean to be assigned a personality type?
We’ve all pondered the big debate of Nature vs. Nurture . . . how the spark of life is blessed/cursed/or combination-therein by congenital behavior . . . or wait! Is it actually shaped by environmental and emotional factors? And then these is all of the vice-versa stuff that leads one to accept and embrace both and then not think much about it.
Fascinating research points to many interesting findings that help us to understand Who We Really Are, our emotional and social intelligence, and our perception of positive and negative influences. Nature or Nurture? It is an enormous question that no one can really answer with total authority. Take the story of the two children — identical twins, actually — standing on the ocean shore. They are enjoying themselves while the salt water is gently lapping at their toes. Suddenly, a rogue wave washes over the top of them. The same wave, the same temperature of water, the same element of surprise. One of the twins starts to cry and scream and run from the water. The other twin splashes back at the wave while laughing. While this story would neither withstand nor support the rigors of a research study focused on Nature vs. Nurture, I like it nonetheless. It gives me pause: Why not laugh? It’s a heck of a lot more fun than crying and screaming.
And in the midst of all of this wondering and debating and agreeing, I do believe that there is much to be said for the concept of timshel — the Hebrew word for thou mayest.
When I think on topics of this sort, my mind wanders back to a Time of Great Impressionability in my life, and I was reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. What a book! Well, “the story bit deeply into me,” and Lee’s treatise on timshel has stayed with me all of these curious years later — a testimony to the notion that life is one great impressionable moment after another.
It is my hope that sharing this gem of Steinbeck’s brilliance and wisdom will not act as any sort of spoiler. The book is brilliant and one worth reading. Like life, Steinbeck’s writing is intense and provocative and profound. He writes the sort of story that stays with you throughout the years. I thank Mr. Steinbeck for opening my eyes, my mind, my heart, my soul, and my sense of wonder to the notion of thou mayest: “the glory of the choice.”
Last week, I came across this quite lovely Personality Test online. I normally don’t click on these tests, expecting some sort of hook to be set before you receive your “results,” but something prompted me to go ahead and try this one. Before reading any further, go ahead and click on the link and visualize your responses to the prompts.
What do you think? How much of the explanation of your visuals did you feel was accurate? At the very least, I felt that I was given a sideways glimpse into me — parts of me that are actually true that I generally don’t consciously associate with my “personality.” I think about Steinbeck’s artistic weaving of timshel into East of Eden . . . and I am reminded that thou mayest carries with it a personal(-ity) responsibility of creative and paradigm-shifting mindfulness that requires daily cultivation, acknowledgement, and celebration on my part.
Personality assessment aside . . . overall, we need not be so hard on ourselves. I think we sometimes embrace the opinions of people — people who truly don’t know us — with far too much zeal, and we assign too much authority to the editorializing that is done by others. We have a proclivity toward jumping into the sinkhole: a morass of self-blame, regret, and guilt that we assign to nature- and nurture-defining personality quirks . . . epic actions that play with our hearts and attempt to define how we choose to forge present moments into future goals and dreams. Or . . . is this just my personality?
I used to have a quote taped up in every room of my house: Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen. In the midst of one particularly Challenging Time, I was re-reading the quote, and I realized that I needed to make an edit. I crossed out about to happen and scribbled in happening right now:
Always believe that something wonderful is happening right now.
The current paradigm of Overwhelm in that moment screeched to a halt, and life felt like it took a gentler curve toward heart-healing and happiness. When I realized that I had a choice to become someone new on the inside, my whole life shifted. This epiphany didn’t segue into some neat and tidy story-book ending, but it did nudge me into a new place, such that I could get back into a timshel state of mind: “the glory of the choice.”
I leave you today with the prayer, the wish, the hope, and the thought that today is a good day for you. A truly good day. One of gratitude and filled with micro moments that tell you that Now is Now and life is evolving, constantly evolving, as something that is wonderful. If this moment isn’t all that great, just wait for the next one. It will be here before you know it — full of promise and full of timshel. With some refining, life really can be borne from “the glory of the choice: . . . keeping “the way open.”
Click on the highlighted link below to download today’s free journaling exercise. Have fun journaling and putting a new spin on perceptions and keeping your way open!
[P.S. Here is the real Spoiler Alert: To read a longer excerpt that discusses timshel in greater detail from East of Eden, click here. If you are planning to read the book . . . do not click here.]