Gretchen Rubin

Why I Named the Four Tendencies the “Four Tendencies.”

Why I Named the Four Tendencies the “Four Tendencies.”

Since college, when I first read it, I've been haunted by an observation by Freud, where he notes that the names of the three Goddesses of Fate mean “the accidental within the decrees of destiny,” “the inevitable,” and “the fateful tendencies each one of us brings into the world.

-- Sigmund Freud, The Freud Reader, “The Theme of the Three Caskets."

When I read this, it seemed perfectly to distill the three threads of fate.

The fateful tendencies each one of us brings into the world. Years later, when I was trying to figure out what to name the categories that I'd identified as part of human nature -- Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel -- I thought back on that passage. So I named my framework the “Four Tendencies.”

Calling them “fateful” struck me as slightly melodramatic. What do you think? Would that have been a terrific name, or too much?

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The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

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