Type Seven is called the Enthusiast, the Adventurer, and the Generalist because of their enthusiasm for almost everything (especially new things), their adventure-seeking focus, and their wide range of interests. Upbeat, high energy and curious, this is an action-oriented type who places a lot of focus on enjoyment, being happy, and future planning. This is a person whose attention goes to what is fun, pleasing, and enjoyable. Their attention moves away from anything that might lead to negative emotions.
These are the experience junkies of the Enneagram—curious, positive, and often bold, they are drawn to try almost anything they haven’t done before. This person has a very easy time imagining what could go right and what could be amazing. He or she may have a very difficult time imagining what could go wrong. They frequently underestimate danger and sometimes get themselves into difficult situations because of this attention bias. Lack of focus and discernment is often a theme for Enthusiast Sevens. They typically avoid rules and limitations, and personal freedom is a big priority.
The magnifying glass goes to the positive. They see what is pleasurable, fun, positive, and new. They are attracted to possibility, and their attention is often in the future, planning enjoyable experiences. Their attention moves away from anything negative, painful, or limiting.
Gifts to the World
Enthusiast Sevens bring the gifts of joy, positivity, gratitude, and playfulness. Naturally oriented to see the positive, they are capable of profound awe, delight, and wonder of the world. Their upbeat energy can brighten even the darkest environment, and they are naturally uplifting to others.
Enthusiast Sevens Typically Report
1) Having Great Difficulty Narrowing Down Their Choices—They Want It All
Enthusiast Sevens are on an endless quest to find what will make them happy. Since they aren’t quite sure what that is, they want to try everything. The idea of missing out on something can be anxiety-provoking, as their mind considers “what if that was the thing that I was really going to love? ”
“I once stayed in a hotel that had a really big buffet. I literally ate until I was sick, because I had to try everything. I still remember feeling very full, but eating more and more because there were dishes I hadn’t tried yet…”
2) Disliking Limitations and Rules
Enthusiast Sevens want freedom so they have space to pursue whatever might make them happy. They gravitate away from rules, limitations, and anything that might pen them in. Restrictions and limiting their options triggers an anxiety response in most Enthusiast Sevens.
“For most of my career, I’ve worked for myself or in environments where my bosses gave me a lot of freedom and autonomy. Having a micromanager and being in really strict work environments is awful for me. I feel like I’m running out of oxygen…I’ve had it happen twice in my career, and both times I quit the job within six months. It just wasn’t worth it.”
3) An Avoidance of Negative Emotions
“Why feel bad?” is the mantra of the Enthusiast Seven, and negative emotions can feel very threatening to them. This type generally avoids dwelling in the negative. If something unavoidably negative happens, they might acknowledge it briefly, but they quickly reframe the negative event into something positive. Underneath it all is a deep instinct that “if I start feeling bad, I may never stop…” Enthusiast Sevens can experience negative emotions like the threat of falling into a bottomless pit. As such, they work very hard not to feel bad.
“My mind can reframe anything, and it does automatically, without me even trying. Yes, I was fired from my job and that’s bad, but I didn’t like that work anyway and look at all the other options I have now.”
Tools for Compassion If You Have Type Sevens in Your Life
1) Recognize that staying with negative emotions is extremely difficult for them.
Enthusiast Sevens have great difficulty staying with negative emotions. They automatically reframe the negative to positive, which can be frustrating to the other people in their lives. It is important to recognize they aren’t trying to be insensitive or to ignore the difficulty. They become anxious if they stay in negative emotions too long.
2) Don’t think that all their wild plans will actually happen. It is mainly a pleasant mental exercise for them.
Enthusiast Sevens get great pleasure in planning future enjoyable activities. They aren’t famous for their follow through and don’t really expect all the plans to materialize anyway. It is the planning, imagining and discussing that they really enjoy. Understanding that many of the plans will never materialize is important, particularly for more serious types who might think they will need to be involved in the execution of some of the plans.
3) Personal freedom gives them a sense of security.
Enthusiast Sevens feel secure when they have a lot of personal freedom. Strict rules, rigid limitations and anything that eliminates options can be anxiety-provoking and often cause Enthusiast Sevens to act out. They function better in environments where they are given a lot of free rein and flexibility. They can be extremely committed (to relationships, jobs, projects) but typically this commitment must also allow an Enthusiast Seven to continue to feel free and independent. The sense of freedom lowers the underlying anxiety in Enthusiast Sevens and counterintuitively, this sense of freedom makes it easier for them to commit.
The Enthusiast (7) Subtypes
“Keeper of the Castle” Self-Preservation Subtype:
The self-preservation Enthusiast (7) expresses gluttony and a drive for new experiences by finding opportunities to leverage and expand their network. This is a person who typically has a large circle of friends and contacts and acts as a connector or influencer to leverage this circle. Earthy, practical, driven, and sometimes self-interested, this Enthusiast (7) is often professionally accomplished and successful. This person has the title “Keeper of the Castle” because of their cultivation of a gang or self-created family, within which they occupy a key role.
This is the least commitment-phobic of the Enthusiast (7)s. They view close relationships and committed participation in groups as an investment, giving them access to resources, social capital and so forth should the need arise. While emotional, they can be disconnected from their true emotions and tend to be more practical, materialistic, transactional, and rebellious than the other two Enthusiast (7) subtypes.
On the positive side, these are Enthusiast (7)s who may commit to a partner with relative ease. They are gregarious, popular people with a talent for getting things done, knowing the right people, and making things happen. They may become indispensable in their social circle. This is the person whom others go to for help, and the self-preservation Enthusiast (7) may like that others depend on them.
On the less positive side, there is an element of self-interest to most of these transactions that may be subconscious to the Enthusiast (7)s themselves. Their mind automatically seeks and measures opportunities, and they may use people without being consciously aware of it.
“Sacrifice” Social Subtype:
The social Enthusiast (7) counters gluttony and a drive for new experiences by consciously trying to control their urge for more. This is a person who often puts the needs of others ahead of their own needs and may focus their energy into a social cause or support of the family. Generous, idealistic, active and often naive, this type has the title “Sacrifice” because of their tendency to subvert their own desires for the greater good.
Idealism is a foundational trait of the social Enthusiast (7). This idealism manifests in relationships as a quest for pure, true romantic love, and there can be an air of innocence around this Enthusiast (7). They seek admiration from others more than the other two Enthusiast (7)s, and they tend to be very active, taking their idealism and manifesting it in a way that is practical, useful and often beneficial to others. They can resemble the Helper (2) in their sacrifice and focus on benefiting outsiders, but unlike the Helper (2), the social Enthusiast (7) is self-referencing and remains in touch with their own needs, even if they choose to sacrifice them for the greater good.
On the positive side, these are inspiring Enthusiast (7)s who can imagine a better, healthier, more peaceful world in a visionary way. They inspire through enthusiasm and are typically gifted with good social skills. There can be a certain purity about them.
On the less positive side, this Enthusiast (7) can have an intense need for admiration and recognition. They can be idealistic in their intimate relationships and may subconsciously create a hierarchy of virtue with them at the top.
“Fascination” Intimate Subtype:
The intimate Enthusiast (7) expresses gluttony and a drive for new experiences by embellishing reality to see it as much more positive and vivid than it actually is. Their mind overemphasizes the positive data leaving this Enthusiast (7) “trapped in sunshine.” This is a person who genuinely experiences the world as an amazing place filled with endless potential for positive experiences and encounters. Less grounded than the other Enthusiast (7)s, this person is more interested in things of a higher world, the metaphysical, intellectual, or philosophical. They have the title “Fascination” because they experience the world with intense fascination and enthusiasm.
This Enthusiast (7) can have issues around idealizing their partner and significant people in their lives. They may have blind spots around the negative traits of those close to them and can stay in unhealthy relationships longer than expected for a person who values feeling good and avoiding pain. It can be as though they try to stay above dark, thorny issues as a way of escaping pain. This thinking extends beyond relationships. This Enthusiast (7) may have a feeling that they can do everything and that the world is their oyster. The strategy works fine until that unfortunate intersection with reality which can be extremely shocking and confusing for the intimate Enthusiast (7).
On the positive side, the intimate Enthusiast (7) experiences the world as a beautiful and amazing place, filled with positive experiences just waiting to unfold. They naturally and easily see the best in others, including their intimate relationships. Their suggestibility can influence and inspire others in positive ways.
On the less positive side, the reality distortion of this Enthusiast (7) can be extreme. They can miss red flags in their relationships. They live more in their minds than on the earthly plane and can have an unrealistically idealized vision of love.
For more information on subtypes, I recommend Beatrice Chestnut’s book “The Complete Enneagram.”
Enthusiast (7)—Levels of Awareness
Enthusiast (7) When Self-Aware
Enthusiast (7)s experience and express deep gratitude for life and what life offers them. They feel profound appreciation, awe, and delight in simple things and share this positive energy easily with others. These Enthusiast (7)s are naturally uplifting in a deep and sustainable way. Their gratitude is rooted in the full spectrum of experience. They can be deeply healing. They are enthusiastic, high energy, and both stimulated and stimulating. They find everything invigorating. They are cheerful, lively, and vivacious. At the same time, they don’t feel driven to avoid negative feelings or situations. Accomplished in many fields and areas, they are multi-talented as they use their boundary-free mind to cross-fertilize their areas of interest. Practical and productive, they can maintain focus and determination long enough to achieve their goals.
Enthusiast (7) With Tightening Defenses
Anxiety, masked as restlessness, intensifies the drive to have more choices and options. The person is adventurous and worldly but has difficulty staying focused and committing to anything long-term. There is a high drive for new things. They become indiscriminate, engaging in activities in an unfocused way to compensate for the fact they are unable to remain still. They become manic, hyperactive, uninhibited, and unfiltered. Their ideas are overflowing, but their follow-through is weak. The behavior takes on a self-interested edge, and they can be greedy, demanding, self-centered, and filled with gluttony for new experiences, food, alcohol, parties, or other forms of distraction. Nothing feels like enough as they are unable to get relief from their anxiety.
Enthusiast (7) When Fixated
Their behavior starts to exhibit a desperate quality as they become impulsive, infantile, and excessive. Healthy limits disappear, and extreme behavior including addictions may enter the picture as a form of escapism. The Enthusiast (7) becomes unpredictable and out of control, their moods become erratic and volatile, and there can be an element of mania to the person. This Enthusiast (7) is unable to slow down long enough to process any negative emotions. Despair kicks in as this person is exhausted, disillusioned, and broken. Their energy is depleted, their health destroyed, and they may fall into a deep depression, feeling despair about their life. Self-destructive behavior, including impulsive suicide attempts, can occur as a reaction to avoid being trapped in pain.
Type 7s in Relationships
To learn more about Type 7 Enthusiasts and what they are like in relationships, go to page 307.
Tools to Relax the Habit of Attention for Type Seven
The information on this page is excerpted from Headstart from Happiness and The Nine Keys by Lynn Roulo.