There are two types of people in this world: those who focus most of their energies upon “adapting” to the circumstances around them, trying to get ahead in the world, meeting deadlines and goals, showing up the competition, and making it in the big world. These are the ”adapters.” On the other hand, there are those who spend much of their life trying to “remember” the essence of existence, their deepest origins, and the most profound meanings of life. These are the “rememberers.”
Here’s a little quiz to help you figure out if you’re more of a “rememberer” or an “adapter.” Circle any item that applies to you.
1. I like Bill Gates better than Deepak Chopra.
2. I prefer to spend my time meditating rather than partying.
3. I would rather attend a financial seminar than a workshop on personal transformation.
4. I spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning of life.
5. In school, I was more concerned with learning for its own sake than getting good grades.
6. When I was a young child, I had non-ordinary visions, dreams, or other profound inner experiences.
7. In history, I admire Napoleon more than the Buddha.
8. I think a lot about the economy and where it’s headed in the future.
9. I think educational systems should focus more on getting kids to read, write, and do math, and less on art, history, or music.
10. I prefer to read science books over poetry or literature.
11. I’d rather be a writer than a political leader.
12. If I had my choice, I’d prefer living alone in a hut in the woods rather than with a lot of people in a big urban apartment.
13. For me, the spiritual life represents the best part of being alive.
14. I’m more concerned with getting ahead in my existing job than in finding a new job that let’s me express more of my potential.
15. In my mind, an investment banker contributes more to society than a monk meditating in a monastery.
16. I believe that recent advances in technology have made our world a far better place to live in than it was in the past.
17. I’d rather spend time with people who like to talk about the “big” questions of life (e.g. who are we? why are we here? why do bad things happen to good people? etc.) rather than with those who like to discuss the latest current events.
18. I would rather spend more time looking within myself for meaning in life, rather than looking outward to people and events to help me get ahead.
19. Some of my best moments are when I’ve had an idea that has practical significance or an insight that can make me more money.
20. I’d rather travel to Tibet or Bali than London or Paris.
If you circled more than five of these statements – 1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19 – then you incline toward being an “adapter.”
If you circled more than five of these statements – 2, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 20, then you have a proclivity toward being a “rememberer.”
If you circled an equal number of “adapter” and “rememberer” statements, then you have a good balance of these two aspects of being human.
While everybody possesses a mixture of the adapter and the rememberer, many people show more of one quality than of the other. Full-fledged adapters tend to be practical and sensible—sometimes even ruthless—in learning the game of life and leaving the competition behind. Classic examples of adapters include Napoleon, Margaret Thatcher, and Bill Gates. Rememberers, on the other hand, tend to be sensitive and aesthetic as they regard the depths of their own souls and those of others. Famous examples include Saint Francis, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf. Our modern technological culture tends to honor the adapters more than the rememberers. After all, the superadapter CEOs of society make far more money than the rememberer poets. In other cultures, however, it’s the rememberers—the shamans, healers, artists, storytellers, and mystics—who receive far more prestige and support from the community than the business and political leaders.
To learn more about “remembering” and “adapting,” and how they fit into the whole scheme of human development, get my book: The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life.