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Yes, You Can Change Your Personality Later in Life

Not only can Old Dogs learn new tricks, they can change aspects of their personality to be happier and healthier.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal which interviewed two academic experts at UCLA, Dr. Small and Ms. Vorgan and Dr. Agronin, a Geriatric Psychiatrist at Miami Jewish Health, people can change fundamental character traits at any age.

They have reviewed more than 200 scientific studies and have concluded that positive personality changes can occur with either the help of professionals or self-help and these changes can occur within the first month.  It is important to realize that these changes do not necessarily require the help of a trained professional, therefore a large percentage of the population could benefit from self-help approaches to making changes.

There are five major groups of traits which are possible to change.

Potentially changeable personality traits are

  1. extraversion,
  2. openness,
  3. emotional stability,
  4. agreeableness,
  5. conscientiousness.

These personality traits affect our health making us live longer and happier lives.

For example,

  • being more conscientious you are more likely to follow medical advice and change your lifestyle to be healthier,
  • openness makes you more likely to consider positive changes and understand others,
  • being extroverted and agreeable makes you more likely to have stronger social support,
  • and being more emotionally stable means you will have less stress.

Changing personality traits usually require four steps:

  1. considering,
  2. planning,
  3. acting and
  4. sustaining. 

Motivation is the key to considering. Finding reliable information and resources is the key to planning the correct action.  Personal action is then required to adopt new behaviors and perhaps giving up old ones.  Lastly sustaining requires patience and persistence.

The data suggests that people can really do this on their own if they find reliable resources and some may need help either from professionals or supportive people in their social circle.  Family members and coworkers may be either quite helpful or a hindrance depending on their personality traits. When family members and coworkers are supportive then enlisting their help can be useful and sometimes essential.  However, if they are not supportive then one may have to avoid them or mitigate their negative effects.

This information is a message of hope and that we change for the better and live healthier and happier lives no matter what our age or circumstance.

 


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