Personality Change and Aging

According to the research, “Our personalities tend to change over time. This is inevitable and due, in part, to the aging process.” It can be observed with the shifting of our choices such as with music and culinary tastes. So why not take charge of it? The research further suggests that “with a determined approach, we can nudge ourselves toward healthy behaviors that keeps us sharp mentally and positive with age.” The key is in our power to imagine, to care and commit to a better life. The question, then, is it not at all possible to change a personality as we age and for the better? I believe that it’s possible if we choose to face the challenges that are ahead of us. The desire to change is, therefore, universal. The research declares, “that with intent and self-determination, a change in one’s personality can improve a relationship with family and friends, and with optimism and a view on life that is less pessimistic.”

Once again, the question is, who will you be in ten years? It is relatively easy to look back and note all of the “achievements” we have accomplished, then it is to look forward and try imagining how we can ever change or realize the possibility of achieving anything.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert declares that “When people are given time to reflect, they can visualize massive differences between current and former life. And when asked to project forward ten years, the aged individual will rely on past practices that produced insignificant changes in their lives.”

In every age cycle, the aged come to underestimate how their personalities have actually changed with time. This is not an ephemeral thing!

Gilbert explains that best friends, hobbies and vacation preferences are subject to change, or what is called ‘the ease of remembering and the difficulty of imagining.” He also refers to human beings as “a work in progress who mistakenly believe that a change in personality is too hard for them to even imagine, and because of a lack of imagination, it becomes an unlikelihood forever changing.”

What are the benefits for becoming someone “new” with regards to personality? These benefits are real for those who can recognize they are no longer the same individual as they were in the past. The research suggests employing two concepts known as perception and visualization as a means for mentally seeking realizable goals as a guide. Perception has the ability to provide visual clarity and support for decision making. The research identifies these concepts as a “personality visualization.” The following points seek to unpack what is meant for using these concepts: 1) it enables us to understand how empathy can encourage cognitive growth as we age, and 2) it aids in strengthening our comprehension and effectiveness for dealing with the numerous and complicated daily issues that effect our lives and what it has to offer.

These then, are the dynamic forces that shape and reshape our personalities from early childhood into adulthood. Ideally, there will always be opportunities for engaging in the numerous challenges that are associated with a healthy mind, body and life. The opportunities clearly demonstrate how individuals with “enlightened personalities” can gain personal insight and a healthy emotional intelligence that motivates them forward.

To summarize, the aged individual who successfully changes in sustainable ways, tends to cycle through. The following is a guide for self-awareness and potential for change.

Stage I. My ideal self – who do I want to be?

Stage II. My real self – who am I and what are my strengths and gaps?

Stage III. How can I build on my strengths while reducing the gaps?

Stage IV. Experimenting and practicing new behaviors, thoughts and feelings to the point of mastery!

Stage V. Developing supportive and trusting relationships that make changing possible.

The progression through the five stages occurs with moments of discovery that provokes not just awareness, but also a sense of urgency. The task then is doubled: 1) we have to first undue habits that do not work for us and 2) replace them with new ones that do.

I reiterate, “the desire to change is, therefore, universal.”

Quotable Quote: “He who is every day not conquering some fear has not learned the secrets of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.


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