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Center for Action and Contemplation

Type SEVEN: The Need to Be Happy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Enneagram: Week 2

Type SEVEN: The Need to Be Happy
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

SEVENs once knew God/Reality as total foundation and utterly satisfying. Russ Hudson explains that “SEVENs originally experienced their soul as a place of absolute freedom with no walls, no limits, and abundant resources, all of which gave them great joy. . . . As they lost connection with Presence, they lost all this and it was unbearably painful.” [1] The ego tries to fix things by creating a personality that avoids pain and insists on the positive.

SEVENs are people who radiate joy and optimism. They are alive to the precious ingredients in every moment; they can feel childlike astonishment and experience life as a gift. They are full of idealism and plans for the future, and they can pass on their enthusiasm to others. They don’t seem “cerebral” at first glance. They are relaxed, full of good humor, imaginative, sunny, and playful—until one day they notice that all this also serves to protect them from anxiety and pain.

In the course of their development, SEVENs may have had traumatic experiences which they were not equipped to process. Their response was twofold: First they repressed or whitewashed their negative or painful experiences. Second, they went into their heads and began to plan their lives so that every day will promise as much fun and as little pain as possible. SEVENs have so internalized their optimism that they have problems seeing the dark and difficult. It’s hard for them to see the shadow side of anything, including themselves. Because they want everything to be beautiful and good, other aspects of reality fade out of view.

SEVENs love freedom. They want to leave all their options open and unconsciously avoid committing themselves too deeply, because that would limit their options! Besides, if you totally devote yourself to someone or something, your own limits and the limits of others might become visible—and that would be too painful.

The passion or root sin of the SEVEN is gluttony. Their motto is “More is always better.” Mostly they are gluttonous for fun, joy, and options. They love thinking about plans, trips, adventures, and projects. SEVENs are very idealistic. They know the fulfillment of their soul has something to do with worthwhile service to the world. But they distract themselves by trying not to miss out on any possibilities, and disconnected from God’s guidance, they have a hard time landing anywhere. [2]

Here is Russ Hudson’s take on a SEVEN’s journey:

All these ego patterns are very addictive. A SEVEN is addicted to thinking about everything I’m going to do. The more I do that, the more I fall into the passion of the SEVEN, which is gluttony. The further away from Presence I am, the further away from the grace of God, the more I start to feel no abundance, no freedom, no fulfillment, no satisfaction. So my ego is desperately trying to find it, trying to get the experiences that I think will fill me up and make me happy again. But no matter how much I try, it doesn’t work—because it’s not in the content of experience that I’ll find happiness, but in the quality of my attention and presence in any experience I have.

A SEVEN needs to recognize, as we all do, that everything we are looking for is right here, right now, if we are just still and open. Usually we’re going to feel anxious and scared. . . . In fact, any time I’m breaking out of my old ego identity, I’m going to be scared. (I guarantee you all nine types will experience fear.) As I open more into the divine Presence, I’m moving into the unknown and I’m relinquishing the strategy that I’ve held since I was a little kid to be secure and to stay safe. But as I stay with Presence, the virtue of the SEVEN starts to grow in me. The virtue here is a kind of joyful sobriety and gratitude. In other words, I need nothing but this moment. I feel my heart filled, and I know the freedom is here. And suddenly I bring this clear, delicious satisfaction that is unshakable. Every moment is a moment for gratitude, whatever’s happening. [3]

Gateway to Silence:
Open me to love.


[1] Russ Hudson, The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey (CAC: 2009), disc 5 (CD, DVDMP3 download).

[2] Drawn from Ibid.

[3] Adapted from Ibid.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001), 47, 146-148, 150.

Is the Enneagram new to you? Are you wondering, what is the Enneagram? How can the Enneagram help me? Which number on the Enneagram am I? Does the Enneagram work? This is just one post in a two-week series about the Enneagram. Click here for an introduction to the Enneagram and links to additional reflections and resources on the topic.

Image Credit: The Enneagram Diagram. CAC archives.
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