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Changing Your Nature

Changing Your Nature

happy face personalityPERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT are a group of traits that are only partly genetic. They are affected by social factors but remain stable throughout one’s life. But, while our basic personalities don't change significantly after childhood, our behavior can. Psychology Today reports that most traits – like optimism, passion, and joy – can be changed. In Second Nature, author Kathleen McGowan, writes:

Tweaking the way you interpret and react to the world can be a transformative experience, freeing you up to act in new ways. At first, it feels awkward, even bizarre. But with new behaviors come new experiences, creating a feedback loop that, over time, reinforces the transition.

Some sought-after qualities are easier to develop than others. Courage, joy, passion, and optimism are among the more amenable to cultivation, but each requires mastering a different—and sometimes surprising—set of skills. To bring more joy and passion into your life, you must paradoxically be more open to experiencing sadness, anxiety, and fear. Learning to think like an optimist, it turns out, is less important than acting like one. And being courageous has nothing to do with how afraid you are: It's a matter of how strongly you feel about your goals. Cultivating these characteristics puts you on the road to that blend of happiness, satisfaction, and purpose that is the height of human functioning, what positive psychologists call "the good life."

British psychologist Daniel Nettle, author of Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are, writing for the BBC, states that when we watch how people respond differently to different circumstances, “something about the way the person is ‘wired up’ seems to be at work, determining how people react to situations, and, more than that, the kind of situations they get themselves into in the first place. This is why personality seems to become stronger as we get older; when we are young, our situation reflects external factors such as the social and family environment we were born into. As we grow older, we are more and more reaping the consequences of our own choices (living in places we ourselves have chosen, doing jobs that we were drawn to, surrounded by people like us whom we have sought out). Thus, personality differences that might have been very slight at birth become dramatic in later adulthood.”

While there is no one best personality to have, each has their advantages and disadvantages, we could do better by getting out of our programmed reactions and try to cover some new ground. Nettle recommends, “If you are an extreme introvert, you might want to challenge yourself to experience the rewards of greater spontaneity and exchange; if you are an extreme extravert, you might want to teach yourself to undertake a long and lonely project that will ultimately be very rewarding. As human beings, we have the unique ability to look in at our personality from the outside and decide what we want to do with it.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:20 AM
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