Our research team recently found that a fifth-century Buddhist "meditation manual," entitled The Path of Purification, describes how quite a few, perhaps all, personality traits fall into one of three buckets: faithful/greedy, discerning/aversive and speculative/deluded. The manual describes everyday characteristics, such as the type of food one eats, how one walks or dresses and so forth, as ways to measure or determine which bucket someone generally falls into.

Our research group took this classification scheme one step further: We tested 43 questions with roughly 900 volunteers, and from their data we developed 13 questions that anyone can ask for predicting and personalizing modern mindfulness and lifestyle practices.

By more clearly seeing and understanding our tendencies in everyday life, we can learn about ourselves and our habitual responses to our internal and external worlds. We can learn the personality types of family members, friends and co-workers, which might allow us to live and work together more harmoniously.

Behavioral Tendencies Questionnaire

Please rank the following in the order that is most consistent with how you generally behave (not how you think you should behave, or how you might behave in a very specific situation). You should give your first and initial response without thinking about the question too much. Place a 1 by the answer that best fits you, followed by a 2 for your second choice and a 3 for the answer that least fits you.

1. If I were to plan a party,...
____A. I would want it to be high-energy, with lots of people.
____B. I would only want certain people there.
____C. it would be last-minute and free-form.

2. When it comes to cleaning my room, I...
____A. take pride in making things look great.
____B. quickly notice problems, imperfections or untidiness.
____C. don't tend to notice or get bothered by clutter.

3. I prefer to make my living space...
____A. beautiful.
____B. organized.
____ C. creative chaos.

4. When doing my job, I like to...
____A. be passionate and energetic.
____B. make sure everything is accurate.
____C. consider future possibilities / wonder about the best way forward.

5. When talking to other people, I might come across as...
____A. affectionate.
____B. realistic.
____C. philosophical.

6. The disadvantage of my clothing style is that it may be...
____A. decadent.
____B. unimaginative.
____C. mismatched or uncoordinated.

7. In general, I carry myself...
____A. buoyantly.
____B. briskly.
____C. aimlessly.

8. My room is...
____A. richly decorated.
____B. neatly arranged.
____C. messy.

9. Generally, I tend to...
____A. have a strong desire for things.
____B. be critical but clear-thinking.
____C. be in my own world.

10. At school, I might have been known for...
____A. having lots of friends.
____B. being intellectual.
____C. daydreaming.

11. I usually wear clothes in a way that is...
____A. fashionable and attractive.
____B. neat and orderly.
____C. carefree.

12. I come across as...
____A. affectionate.
____B. thoughtful.
____C. absentminded.

13. When other people are enthusiastic about something, I...
____A. jump on board and want to get involved.
____B. might be skeptical of it.
____C. go off on tangents.

Now add up the numbers in each category (A, B, C) to get a crude score for each category. The category with the lowest score equals your greatest tendency. A = Faithful/Greedy, B = Discerning/Aversive, C = Speculative/Deluded.

Here are some general summaries for the categories:

A. Faithful/Greedy: You tend to be optimistic, affectionate and might even be popular. You are composed and quick-thinking in everyday tasks. You are more likely to be attracted to sensual pleasure. You put faith into what you believe, and your passionate nature makes you popular with other people. You have a confident posture. At times you might become greedy for success. You crave pleasant experiences, good company, rich foods and can become proud. Your desire for superficial things sometimes leaves you discontented and at its worst may even lead you to manipulate others.

B. Discerning/Aversive: You tend to be clear-thinking and discerning. Your intellect allows you to see things logically and identify flaws in things. You are quick to understand concepts, and tend to keep things organized and tidy while getting things done quickly. You pay attention to detail. You might even have a stiff posture. At times you are judgmental and critical. You might notice a strong dislike for certain people, places or things. On a bad day, you may come across as a grump or as a perfectionist.

C. Speculative/Deluded: You tend to be easygoing and tolerant. You are able to reflect on the future and speculate on what might happen. You think about things deeply and philosophically. You might have a posture that is uneven and variable. At times you might easily get caught up in your own thoughts or fantasies. As you daydream, sometimes you might become doubtful and worried about things. Lost in thought, you find yourself going along with what others suggest, perhaps even being easily persuaded. At your worst, you are disorganized, restless and absentminded.

Reprinted from The Craving Mind. Copyright © 2017 by Judson Brewer. Published by Yale University Press.

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