A great way of understanding the four temperaments is by looking at what excites each temperament.
Cholerics are excited by accomplishment, achievement, and ambition.
Sanguines are excited by nice things and good experiences.
Melancholics are excited by ideals and meaning.
Phlegmatics are not strongly excited by anything.
Phlegmatics are considered easy-going because they are not easily excited and they also don’t form long-lasting impressions.
That leaves melancholics in the awkward position of being not easily excited, but still forming long-lasting impressions, including the impression of not being excited by much!
INFPs are the most melancholic of the melancholics. We go through life slowly realising that we are not excited by much, and trying in our own way to get excited about the same things as our non-melancholic peers.
The Excitement Question
We tend to look at excitement as relative to other temperaments.
I like nice cars, I wouldn’t say no to a new one. But that level of excitement in me barely registers in contrast to genuine car enthusiasts.
Conversely, I get very excited by reflecting on the meaning of life, the best way to live, the nature of reality, and similar subjects that leave many people entirely disinterested.
We could just say that different people are excited by different things. I might feel out of place at a car show, while others would feel similarly out of place at a university library.
But we could point out that there are more cars than libraries, and that many people go through life quite happily avoiding libraries, whereas even those who love libraries might need a car to get them there.
In other words, these sources of excitement are not equal in this world. The things that excite melancholics are perhaps rarer and less widely valued than the things that excite other temperaments.
Must melancholics be depressed?
Melancholy has become synonymous with depression, and depression can be inversely correlated with excitability.
Cholerics would be depressed if their ambitions were stymied at every turn, their accomplishments went unrecognised and their achievements had no bearing on their station in life.
Sanguines would be depressed if bereft of social interaction, outings, engagements and all the nice objects they love.
Phlegmatics would be depressed if thrown into the spotlight, made to deal with conflict, while all the rules were cast aside and ignored.
And melancholics are often depressed because our ideals and desire for meaning are not widely shared, nor taken seriously unless in service to the values of other temperaments.
At least, that’s what I would have said in the past. It’s not my fault I’m depressed, it’s a function of living in a society dominated by non-melancholics.
But does it have to be this way?
You create your reality
I’m now accepting that it doesn’t matter what other people do or how friendly or unfriendly society looks to be.
I’m the one creating my reality, and if I keep telling a story of disenfranchisement and melancholic alienation, then I’ll continue to suffer accordingly.
This is where the excitement question gets really exciting!
Instead of complaining that society doesn’t value meaning and ideals, I can rejoice that I know more clearly than before what does excite me!
There is nothing stopping me (but my own thoughts) from turning all my attention and energy to the ideals and meaning that excite me.
I’ve learned from the Abraham-Hicks teachings that it really is just my own thoughts that create insurmountable-seeming barriers and boundaries to my happiness.
Life is not ideal? People don’t value meaning? BS. That’s just a story I’ve learned to tell, and then kept on finding evidence to support while ignoring anything that contradicts it.
Happiness is possible for melancholics, of course it is! We are the ones undermining and squelching the amazing joy and satisfaction our ideals and feelings provide us. We’ve learned to do this — we can learn to build it up instead.