Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Four Moods and Other Bullshit

So today, I went out and had coffee with someone new. Surprisingly, I fell back into my core and did things as I would years ago. It was neither wrong nor right, but simply an observation.

In classic Greek psychology, which is mostly psycho-babble, they identified four distinct character traits - choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine.

Cholerics are defined by being very decisive, objective-oriented, extroverted and are generally big-picture people. Cholerics make very good leaders and managers, but they are fixated on ideals and would throw tantrums if their idea of the world does not tally with reality. They are driven control-freaks, but unknown to them, they are highly dependent on other classes to get the job done. Cholerics hold the vision.

 Melancholics are introverted, analytical, indecisive, objective oriented and value data over everything else. The smartest people are melancholics. You need to know something? Ask a melancholic. The problem is melancholics are not driven. They are indecisive and despite having all the skills and knowledge, they usually end up in an information catharsis or even chrysalis - they hide under the covers of information and never, ever, come out. Melancholics hold information.

Phlegmatics are introverted, people-oriented and are generally followers. There is not much use for phlegmatics, except as followers, and yet they are also the life-blood of the workforce. Malaysia is filled with phlegmatics. The tidak apa attitude is distinctly phlegmatic. Phlegmatics hold conscience.

The last class is sanguine, who are dodgy, people-oriented extroverts who value popularity. They preen and strut around, often saying things without thinking. They are dumb blondes - popular and yet extremely stupid. ALL effective selling is done by sanguines and the most powerful ones could sell you a 'prostitute in a vagina storm', as the phrase turns. Sanguines hold the image.

The best class is no class. When you can switch from one to the other according to the needs of the situation or crowd.

I hate sanguines because they always make my job difficult. They drop in, say everything they want to say, no plan, no info, and leave me with figuring out how to do what has become the impossible. I am melancholic, by the way - the smartest of all classes.

So, for the past few years, I have explored sanguine as well as choleric tendencies and traits. No matter how much I resist and hate, hate, HATE those things, I understand they are essential.

Today, over coffee, I switched - consciously - from one form to the other, feeling very much like the Decepticon Six-Shot. It was fun, until my Buddhist training decided I need to go home and sleep before waking up tonight to do work.

Buddhism and Hinduism have different views on psychology as compared to the Greeks. Hinduism says that the world is only a flawed perception through our imperfect minds. "The mind is maya," said one Guru. This means that we are always wrong.

Buddhism puts the self, the ego, not as the center of the universe or the center of everything, but as the entire universe, of which we are part of. The lotus symbolism is sometimes referred to - by some - as a fractal (I do not know whether lotuses are fractals, but I do know ferns are naturally occurring fractals). It means we are both part of and the entire universe at once.

Some parts of quantum physics - pseudo-science to the unbelievers - believe fractals hold a key to the universe. But this may be due to the scientists were once flower-children and would like it if some 'exotic' eastern philosophies turn out to be true. They even named a fractal map the Buddhabrot, because it resembles the Buddha's more common icon.

A Buddhabrot - a fractal map reminiscent to Siddharta Gautama

And thus ends my pseudo-intellectual rant. I'll be back after I have done some more business work in the corporate wilderness.