Whatever Happened to Just Being Type A?

“It came out in the wake of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’” said Ms. Fletcher of “The Happiness Project,” “this idea that to find happiness you had to leave your husband and quit your job and eat, pray, love. What Gretchen realized is that most people don’t want to leave their husbands and their jobs, and what she provided was recipes for being happier in place.

.. Most people seem to love sorting themselves into discrete, mutually exclusive categories (e.g., I’m an extrovert, you’re an introvert; I’m a perceiver, you’re a judger). Managers, bosses, and administrators seem to love them too. None of this is terribly surprising. Decades of psychological research show that the human mind craves simplicity and prefers categories to dimensions when it comes to conceptualizing ourselves and others.”

.. “This kind of neat categorization is highly appealing when one’s internal emotions and struggles are so messy,”

..  Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an associate professor of history at the New School who has been researching wellness and self-help culture since the 1950s. “Isn’t it comforting to put yourself in a box that others occupy as well? Doesn’t that assure us of our normalcy? And unlike, say, trying to understand your problems through a clinical source like the D.S.M.” — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Baedeker of pathologies and a bucketing good read — “all of the categories tend to have some generally objectively positive traits. That is, you won’t arrive at the diagnosis that you’re a narcissist or a sociopath in a popular self-help book, in part because no one would buy that book.”

.. She divides self-help authors into Astronomers (scholarly) and Astrologers (intuitive), placing herself firmly in the Astronomer camp.

.. five mind-sets that apparently are impediments to successful careers: Captain Fantastic, Solo Flyer, Version 1.0, One Trick Pony and Whirling Dervish.