We cannot deny that we are born with some sort of personalities. One recent statistical study shows that genetics affect our character traits such as self-control and sociability far more than we thought previously. Another study found that nice people are born with “niceness” genes. Indeed, our personality affects our daily life a lot.
For example, when comparing between a person with out-going traits and one with shy traits, the latter takes, on average, 5 years longer to get married, and earns as much as 20% less income at a similar educational background. That is huge.
Because of these facts, most people believed that once you are born with a certain personality, we live with it for the rest of the life. However, a study done at the University of Manchester and London School of Economics and Political Science, says that the personality does change significantly over our lifetime. It is like a fat gene, by treating it correctly, you may be able to control the shyness gene.
According to this study, the personality tremendously affects a person’s well-being. It accounts for up to 35 % of an individual difference in life satisfaction, compared to 4% for income, and 1% for marital status. People who are satisfied with their life are mentally healthy and tend to live a healthier and more physical life.
So how can we change our personality? First of all, you need to know your basic personality. Most people are really bad when they are trying to predict future happiness because they don’t know who they are. First, write down who you think you are. Then, if you have good friends and if you can accept their opinion without bias, ask them to describe your personality. If you think you can’t do this (that is most of us!), you may want to buy a personality test and take the test.
Second, know the positive things about your personality. Everything has positive and negative sides. For example, shyness has its positive sides (otherwise, on the evolutional roadway, all shy people would have died out a long time ago.) People with shy tendency are more cautious and less accident prone. They tend to check things more carefully and notice more details.
You need to think whether changing that particular personality trait makes you happier. If does, you should change it, if it does not, find more about the good side of your personality traits.
Third. Work out! Why does working out helps? First of all, workouts create positive hormones in your brain, and you feel good about yourself. Second, if you get physical improvement which is “visible” to yourself, it makes you proud and you feel good about yourself.
Fourth, observe people who have personality traits you want to have. Imitate their physical movements or appearances. For example, if you want to be calm, move smoothly, and breathe evenly and probably you want to smile. It is well known that feeling/emotion and physical appearance have two way communications and the emotion can change your physical appearance and a certain physical movement can induce certain emotion/feeling. For example, people feel less pain, when they stand tall with a proud posture.
If you do this physical imitation often enough, it will beome a part of you and become your personality. Similar to exercises, you need to repeat them often enough until it becomes yours.
Fifth, put yourself in the environment where people with those certain traits are around. For example, if you would like to enjoy “studying” more, go to a library, and pretend to read books, any books. Eventually you will start reading them for real.
In short, just because you were born with a certain trait, you don’t need to give up. You may not be a politician, but you can be a nice conversationalist and enjoy it if you want to be.
Genetic influences on psychological well-being: A nationally representative twin study. Journal of Personality, 2012
The Neurogenetics of Nice: Receptor Genes for Oxytocin and Vasopressin Interact With Threat to Predict Prosocial Behavior. Psychological Science, 2012
Is Personality Fixed? Personality Changes as Much as “Variable” Economic Factors and More Strongly Predicts Changes to Life Satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 2012
Personality Neglect: The Unforeseen Impact of Personal Dispositions on Emotional Life. Psychological Science, 2010; 21 (12): 1783
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