How knowing your enneagram personality type could help you live longer

It’s actually been scientifically proven that healthy relationships—whether with a partner, family member or coworker—can help you live longer. It’s our social connections, not wealth or fame, that can impact our longevity. (Unfortunately, digital relationships don’t equate to live ones.) Data taken from Blue Zones, or places in the world where people live the longest, backs up this theory, and there’s science to support the flip side: social isolation can increase mortality.  

You might have heard of the Enneagram Test, a personality test that divides test takers into numbers one through nine based on their results. Knowing your enneagram can be a powerful tool in knowing how you see the world, and just as importantly, how others do, so you can help nurture those social connections.

The idea is that the more self-aware we are, and the more aware of others we can be, the greater chance we have of making a deep connection. While personality tests aren’t the end-all-be-all instruction guides for relationships, it is fun to see where you and any potential partners, collaborators, or friends might be able to strengthen and deepen connections. 


The Enneagram Test 

The Enneagram Test was created by The Enneagram Institute in 1997 as a way to understand ourselves better, and how we interact with others. It’s gained in popularity in recent years as a more well-rounded way of deciphering someone’s triggers and reactions. It breaks test-takers down into one of nine different personality types and assigns them a number 1 through 9. 

Type 1: The Reformer

Type 1s consider themselves principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic. They’re conscientious and methodical and can be perceived as reliable, loyal, and sensible but also as judgmental and uncompromising as they see flaws immediately. They notice everything and often have ideas on how to practically improve upon things. 


What’s Hard for a Type 1

Type 1’s strive to get everything right and perfect, so they can be seen as control freaks. This even applies to morals and perceived shared codes of conduct. Integrity is of utmost importance to them, and criticism is not taken lightly. No matter how hard you think they are being, they’re even harder on themselves.  They can benefit from playfulness and trying to embrace imperfections, especially actions done by others.  


Type 2: The Helper 

Type 2s are helpers, carers, and people-pleasers. They are emotionally intelligent and empathetic, and they will be compassionate in problem-solving with you. They are generous and sometimes put others’ needs before their own. They’re great listeners and intuitive, and rely heavily on their connections to others for their self-worth. 


What’s Hard for a Type 2

Type 2s can struggle with neglecting their own needs when caring for others, and can often be performative in their care—that is, caring for others is an ego-boost. That can mean unhealthy boundaries and an imbalance in the relationship. 2s can give until there’s nothing left in their cup. It’s best that they are in relationships that have true give and take.


Type 3: The Achiever 

If you’re a Type 3, you’re an achiever. You’re success-driven, pragmatic, and energetic. Driven, adaptable, and focused are words others would use to describe you, and that all applies to work as much as it does to relationships. There’s a superior ability to communicate, which can help mitigate any tough spots. 


What’s Hard for a Type 3

The flip side of 3s is their quest for success and recognition can make them image-conscious or vain. They think a lot about what others think and could become obsessive to the point of annoyance, and this could lead to relationships feeling superficial or disingenuous. Threes can work on divorcing their self-worth from their success. 


Type 4: The Individualist 

Type 4’s can be expressive and romantic, and are often seen as originals who are their authentic selves. They’re accepting, nurturing, and vulnerable, which can bring out their creativity and forward-thinking. There’s a strong sense of identity and they crave relationships. 


What’s Hard for a Type 4

Fours can be seen as temperamental or tempestuous, and moody and self-absorbed. They can live in tension and have a hard time staying balanced in their emotions. This can often come off as self-absorbed.


Type 5: The Investigator 

Type 5’s are intense and cerebral; they’re incredibly perceptive people who are undemanding and observant. They fiercely value independence and are grounded and pragmatic. Their steadiness and logic are balanced by their thoughtfulness. They’re private, and connection can feel risky sometimes to them. 


What’s Hard for a Type 5

This pragmatism can sometimes be seen as detached or too observant, and not participatory enough. It can come off as secretive or unemotional if it isn’t checked. They could have a hard time relating to others, which could lead to isolation. They need space to process information before responding. 


Type 6: The Loyalist

The Loyalist or Type 6 is beloved for their security and commitment; they are engaging devoted, and hard-working. They’re diligent yet playful and have a keen sense of responsibility. It’s alleged that there are more 6’s in the world than any other type, and they are driven by the common good and authenticity. 


What’s Hard for a Type 6

They can be skeptics and highly suspicious, which can lead to anxiety. Worries dwell on the negative for Type 6’s, which can feel pessimistic or fatalistic in a relationship. It’s important for 6’s to think through a response, and not be so suspicious of others’ motives. 


Type 7: The Enthusiast

Type 7’s are busy, fun-loving, pleasure-seeking people. They can be spontaneous and highly adventurous. They’re curious and high-energy and exhibit resilience. They’re optimistic and versatile, like a chameleon. 


What’s Hard for a Type 7 

Type 7’s can seem like they’re always looking over their shoulders for the next thing to come their way, which can lead to a sense of not being in the moment. They can be easily distracted, scattered, or unfocused. They also have a tendency to overfill their schedules rather than confront intense emotions or deep relationships. 


Type 8: The Challenger

Type 8’s have a tendency to dominate, challenge, and own a room. They have a lot of confidence in themselves and make decisions easily. They’re action-oriented, resourceful, and make definitive decisions. They are clear, direct, and independent. They have a strong moral compass and make great leaders. 


What’s Hard for a Type 8

This confidence can be seen as confrontational to some, and a need to be in the driver’s seat can cause conflict. They can be seen as combative or aggressive and might be quick to anger. It might be hard for them to share their emotions with you. 


Type 9: The Peacemaker 

Type 9’s are easygoing and agreeable. They’re soothing and supportive and are always looking for harmony. They are non-confrontational and seek peace, even if it’s at a cost to themselves. They’re very patient and loving and can make you feel like they “see” you. 


What’s Hard for a Type 9

This peacemaking need can often be seen as complacent or unable to take a side, but 9’s really do see all sides. Voicing opinions, especially if they might rock the boat, can be hard. This can lead to passive-aggressiveness. 


How knowing your Enneagram can help a relationship

Knowing how to use enneagrams in relationships at work or at home is as important as knowing your type.  Enneagrams can help you:

  • Communicate more efficiently and effectively: If you understand someone’s core motivations and fears based on their enneagram type, you can communicate things in a way that makes the most sense to them, and that makes them feel secure. 
  • Understand someone’s relationship to conflict: If you know how someone feels about conflict, you can adjust both your approach and expectations, which will hopefully get you both the results you want from a difficult conversation. 
  • It allows you to acknowledge and work on your own blindspots: If the goal is to be self-aware, then knowing your enneagram will go a long way in helping you achieve mindfulness when it comes to your own shortcomings. This acknowledgment can help in conflict resolution.  
  • It allows you to celebrate the good qualities: Enneagrams help us relate better to others, which includes championing each other. 

It’s a good idea to take any personality test with a grain of salt and live in the reality of your relationships. But knowing your enneagram can be an effective tool for self-awareness, which is scientifically proven to increase longevity.

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