Famous HAPPY INTROVERT: Napoleon Dynamite


Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite by Elizabeth Wagele

It’s been 7 ½ years since the movie Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004 and six years since I devoted the appendix of THE HAPPY INTROVERT to the Enneagram types of the movie’s characters. Now the writer and director of the movie, with help, have turned it into a Sunday night animated TV series. The original actors take the parts of the characters’ voices. Napoleon and his brother Kip still live in Idaho—with their grandmother. I haven’t seen the TV show, but from what I’ve read about it, it doesn’t capture the subtle qualities the movie does. It goes for definite jokes instead of the slow, nerdy humor more typical of introverts. The movie’s charm depends on being understated. It doesn’t sound like this series replicates that.

When I first watched the movie on DVD, I almost turned it off after twenty minutes because I was bored. But I came back and watched it again. And again. I started to love Napoleon and his veiled sweetness. He advises his friend in a quiet way, “Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.” I believe he’s a Peace Seeker type in the Enneagram.

I love Napoleon because he isn’t swayed by what his high school crowd values. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. His life isn’t about being popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s strong, loyal, virtuous, and doesn’t beat himself up about being grumpy. In fact, for a Peace Seeker to allow himself to be grumpy is an achievement. Most Peace Seekers try to be pleasant most of the time, even when they don’t feel that way.

Napoleon plays a video over and over for many weeks in order to learn how to dance–only because he wants to. He has no reason to tell anyone about it. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way. It comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to find out more about introversion or the Enneagram personalities of Napoleon Dynamite, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

More famous types can be found on this blog, on my Psychology Today blog, and on my web site.

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The Happy Introvert: Napoleon Dynamite


“Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.”

I used the title character of the movie, Napoleon Dynamite (2004), as an example of an introvert in the appendix of “The Happy Introvert.” He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. Napoleon marches to his own drummer rather than following the collective. His life isn’t about being beautiful or popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s sweet, strong, loyal, virtuous, and grumpy (not all introverts are grumpy, however). And he becomes a hero.

Napoleon has the ability to focus on a video for weeks and weeks in order to learn how to dance. Wow, does he ever learn how to dance! And he does it for only one reason: he wants to. There’s no need to tell anyone else about it. Having learned this skill happens to lead to a heroic act later in the film. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way and it’s touching because it comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends and he’s inspiring. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to learn more about the personalities of Napoleon, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

http://www.wagele.com/introvert.html

Buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

I Get By With a Little Help From My Dreams


Lady with hanky If my dreams were removed from my life’s history, I wouldn’t know who I was.

Dreams started shaping my life starting with the first dream I can remember at age 4 or 5.  This dream influenced me to feel separate enough from my family to go inside and look for meaning in art and music. http://wagele.com/enneagram5.html In adulthood I began taking some dream classes and drawing my dreams. Getting practice drawing sparked an interest in creating cartoons, which led to trying to produce greeting cards with my friend Renee. The greeting cards didn’t succeed, but we realized there was a need for an accessible introductory Enneagram book just then, so we turned to writing one ourselves, using my drawings for non-verbal learning and to spice it up with humor. “The Enneagram Made Easy” http://wagele.com/easy.html  led to several more books and hundreds more cartoons. So in a practical way my dreams created an enjoyable second career for me following the career in music that I started out with.

Here on the left is a part of one of my dream drawings.

There are two other reasons why I love dreams. First, by paying attention to almost every dream I have, and by taking some of them to groups where I can hear what other people have to say about them, I learn  things I need to learn about myself, for example to be stronger, to take certain things more seriously, and to look at parts of myself I might be neglecting. As of today I’ve recorded 1710 dreams. Several themes stand out and certain symbols recur. When their meaning becomes clear, many things tumble into place. My dreams have given me major gifts.

Second, studying my dreams and the dreams of those in the dream groups I belong to is a fascinating activity–an  interesting glimpse into the psyche. I marvel at my teachers’ gifts at interpreting and intuiting dreams’ symbolism and meaning. It’s  interesting to watch the methods my own unconscious mind comes up with “behind my back” to get points across to the me I know myself to be. Dreams trick us into taking them literally, when that’s probably rarely where the real meaning is. So it seems crucial to me to have input from at least 5 or 6 other people to help me get the point.

Would I like to have a career as a dream writer or teacher? If I were as gifted at working with dreams as some of the dream teachers I have worked with I’d consider it. I’m surprised at how many people think dreams are not important, that they’re just the mind’s clutter from the day. I find my dreams to be more intelligent than anything I can come up with in my waking life after I delve into them to figure them out. “The Career Within You” http://www.wagele.com (available December 29, 2009) will probably emphasize dream-related careers in future editions as more people see the importance of our dream life to our psychological health and wholeness.

Cultivating Mindfulness


Mandala

Yesterday I had lunch with some friends. I was feeling guarded about one of them, who will often fly off the handle in the passion of presenting his positions on things. I have quite an even temperament and I don’t always do so well with people who are the opposite from me in that regard. I tend to feel overwhelmed by their emotions and lose track of myself. So before we met I felt uneasy considering what I might do about this. But as I observed him talking to another member of our group I noticed what an emotional person he is–and I let it in that this has nothing to do with me. I think I’ve been seeing him as intimidating me all too readily. As it turned out, he never did go into a rage that day. Now that I have greater insight into myself, I have time to work on my own attitude before we meet again in a few weeks. I will try to accept him as a person who is unlike me; he is emotionally based. Hopefully I have tender feelings, but I would never express them so dramatically. Either it’s not my in-born style or maybe I’m too timid. He probably represents my shadow.

As often happens, this breakthrough (I call it a breakthrough because I had been struggling with this person’s temper for a long time) didn’t come out of the blue. It comes on the heels of a much larger breakthrough concerning a family member. Being mindful was a help to me in both cases. After receiving a wrongfully accusing letter from a relative, I had plunged into a negative feeling state and started to obsess about how to react. Several times I considered pushing my feelings away and trying to forget the whole thing, but my energy was so intense I decided something productive might be percolating inside of me. I had felt similarly when in on the verge of creative breakthroughs in the past. Sure enough, in another couple of weeks I had solved a big puzzle. After trying to be open and waiting, things came together and the story of this tangled relationship started to make sense. I was glad I had stuck it out, including working hard on the dreams I had during this period, and able to make more progress on this situation than I ever expected. So taking the “positive” route doesn’t always achieve the best results. Sometimes hanging out in an uncertain or even negative place turns out to be the best in the long run.

“The Happy Introvert”


IntrovertLadyDo you know if you’re an introvert? Would you be proud to know you were? As I say in my book, “The Happy Introvert; A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self,” when I proudly announced to my mother that I was an introvert, she shot back angrily, “You are not! You are a nice girl!” Now that many decades have gone by, I can say with certainty that being an introvert has brought me many pleasures. I’ve never been bored except when other people don’t know when to stop talking and I try not to let that happen. I generally love people and I spend much of my time studying them. I also like my own company and can find many ways to amuse myself. This is a big subject that I filled a whole book with, so there’s not room to cover it here, but here are some questions you can ask yourself if you think you might be an introvert:

1. Do you usually prefer limiting your time with people to an hour or two?

2. Do people usually realize you’re interesting only after they get to know you fairly well?

3. Are you critical of superficiality?

4. Do you tend to concentrate in depth when doing a project?

5. Is your style of speech relatively calm and quiet?

6. Are you more likely to engage in learning or improving your skills than looking for outside stimulation?

7. Is your ability to remember people’s names average to low?

8. In social situations, do you sometimes or often stand back and observe?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, it’s likely you are an introvert. We all use both introversion and extraversion every single day, but one of these feels more easy and natural more of the time. I kept hearing people talk about introverts in a negative way and I wanted to help clear up some of the misconceptions about this subject. I’m glad I did. “The Happy Introvert” helps those introverts who might think something is wrong with themselves, when really introversion is perfectly natural and necessary. It also tezches people how to relate better to the introverts in their lives.

See the cover and order the book at wagele.com and/or read my articles on “Parenting Introverts,” “A 5 on Music, The Enneagram, and Infinity,” “How to Get Along with Introverts,” and “Introverted Feeling Types;” and see some reviews and an interview here.

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