It feels like there is a significantly positive shift coming this year and that excites me for each of us and mankind as a whole.
And a key question right now is, what have we become and who would we like to be going forward?
It’s time for us to relate better with our fellow men and women because the last few years haven’t brought out the best in us.
The great news is, we are capable of huge and sometimes rapid change, for better or for worse.
And here are just two examples of research showing that people can and do change their personality over time.
For example, one study found that people can change personality traits in even a short period of time, and that those personality changes had remained stable more than a year later .
Another study found that Instagram and Facebook users that posted mostly selfies, increased in their narcissistic traits over a four month period . Just four months! On average, the increase in narcissistic traits was 25%. That’s a lot.
So never let anyone convince you that people can’t change or that they don’t change quickly. They can and they do.
A better us
So who do you want to be in 2023 and where do you want to see society go from this point on?
Because the last few years have been bizarre. And quite frankly, I, and a lot of you, are over the negativity and darkness such as:
- Psychological control exerted through coercion, bullying and ostracising
- Cancel culture
- Attempts to remove safety for women
- Attempts to ruin the reputation of innocent men
- A lack of proper mental and physical protection for children
- Aggression towards people who have a difference of opinion
- Mass harassment of someone based on incorrect judgements by some
- And so much more negativity and awful treatment of one another
We are better than this.
Social media has exacerbated our self-destruction
I’ve always had a hate/love (yes, in that order) relationship with social media.
I do love aspects of it but I also do see the destruction it causes and one major issue that appears to have stemmed from social media, other than an increase in narcissism as per the aforementioned research, is lazy thinking. People’s seeming inability to, or mere refusal to, use proper critical thinking.
We have to resolve the issue of people getting sucked in by what one person or organisation has told them to think without first gathering more information and evaluating the situation.
And we do that by using our critical thinking and having the courage to have a difference of opinion.
And by doing so we’ll make our relationships, careers, and health, better. Plus we will also make mankind better. But it all starts with us as individuals.
How we treat each other and ourselves, matters. So let’s bring positivity and light to dissolve the negativity and darkness.
Positive traits to adopt in 2023 and beyond
So here are 7 traits to adopt to help ourselves, our loved ones, and mankind at large. By doing so we’ll make huge, positive changes, even though the following personal changes may seem simple.
7 traits to adopt:
Thinking before speaking.
Using positive thinking.
Let’s look at those in a bit more detail.
1. Being open-minded
For example, being open-minded to: having misunderstood something; missing important information; new ways of thinking; new habits; and so on.
This doesn’t mean you have to accept ideas that do not fit with your religion, ideologies, morals, and so on. It simply means having an open-minded, inquisitive attitude before you’ve made a decision about where you stand on an issue. And accepting that others may have different thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.
Only with critical thinking can you make a decision that is of your own making, rather than brainwashing from others, and only then can you be confident in sharing your opinion courageously with others.
When you are confident in your opinions you can share them with respect and calmness. No aggression, no bullying, just ‘hey, this is where I stand and this is why’, and then others can be reflective rather than reactive (a key ingredient for a healthy conversation).
2. Being compassionate
When you think about it, being compassionate with others is a basic of being a human being.
We are social creatures, and as researchers state, ‘Regardless of one’s sex, country or culture of origin, or age or economic background, social connection is crucial to human development, health and survival’ .
We are one. We, mankind, rise together and we fall together. By sympathising, helping and uplifting one another, everyone benefits.
From a compassion-based approach, we are not arguing and antagonising, we are sympathising and supporting.
3. Being respectful
When we are respectful to others we demonstrate that we value them and this also indicates that we value ourselves. When someone doesn’t give you respect you know that they also do not respect themselves.The way we treat others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
Sadly, there has been way too much disrespect in recent years. People disrespecting themselves and each other.
For example, trying to force others to do as you want them to do says you don’t care about what’s right for them.
Another example is, forcing your opinions on others says you do not care what impact those thoughts and subsequent actions have on their unique life.
On that note, forcing your opinions on others also says you are not able to sit comfortably within your own opinions and practices and want to convince others to do as you do so that you feel comfortable with your choices.
When a person is comfortable in their beliefs and choices, they do not need others to believe or do the same in order to feel okay with their own beliefs and behaviours.
And being respectful to others makes you feel good and makes them feel good. And mankind definitely needs that.
4. Being empathic
One only needs to look at things like the comments on social media posts and cancel culture silliness to see how lazy thinking has become a habit over recent times. And with lazy thinking comes a lack of empathy.
Research, too, finds that empathy takes effort and so people try to avoid it .
But not using empathy is like not clearing the windscreen when it’s been splashed with muddy water from a passing car. You’re not going to see clearly, your chances of an accident have increased, and it’s unsightly.
In other words, you’re not going to see where someone is coming from when they are talking to you about something, you are likely to create upset for them, and in your relationship with them, and it won’t make you look great!
For those who have gone through a mildly difficult situation or a trauma, a lack of empathy can be incredibly damaging to their well-being and it can destroy the relationship with the non-empathiser. Partly because someone who demonstrates a lack of empathy is basically saying they simply don’t care about the individual concerned.
So if you care, put the effort in to think and feel from the other person’s perspective, ask questions to understand them better, and demonstrate your empathy with your communication, verbal and non-verbal.
Words of empathy are especially important to those experiencing hurt or outright trauma. In fact, words of genuine empathy can be a life line for the traumatised, such as those who have escaped a toxic or abusive relationship.
5. Being non-judgmental
Now this is at the root of so much that we need to weed out in 2023 and beyond. It’s exhausting even to just watch people being so judgmental of others, let alone experiencing others being judgmental of us.
By all means encourage people to be the best version of themselves, but we mustn’t try to force others into being who we want them to be by being judgmental.
When we are being judgemental we are signalling that we have already made our mind up about them and are leaving no room for personal error in our perception. That we are not accounting for the fact that we don’t have the whole picture.
Essentially, you’re saying you are closed off and we can’t get to know people, let alone help people, when we are closed off.
People evolve; encourage and empower, don’t belittle and berate.
Ask questions to learn more, ask questions to help them to reflect more.
And remember, when you let people show you who they are, over time, you know whether or not they are right for you and your life.
6. Thinking before speaking
When we speak, it should be to help rather than hinder others, for example, improve a relationship, resolve a disagreement, create understanding.
When someone repeatedly isn’t doing either of those, that’s when we begin to realise a relationship is toxic.
If you don’t want to be the toxin in your environment, then think before you speak. It’s always helpful to ask yourself questions like, ‘What is the end goal I want to achieve here?’; ‘How can I help improve this situation rather than worsen it?’; ‘How will what I say be received?’
Sometimes people will still respond in a combative way, online and offline – loved ones, colleagues, and strangers – but when you know you have taken care with your words, at this point you can choose whether to comment further or not. Look at their response, think and then decide whether it’s helpful to speak further in that moment, later, or not at all.
Why? Because having thoughtfully spoken yourself, and then sat back to evaluate what came back to you from others, you may realise from their response that there is an aggression in their tone, or a lack of thoughtfulness in their response, or that they are baiting you so as to start a conflict.
In such instances, it does not serve you, or onlookers that are present, to be in the midst of such tension. After all, emotions are contagious up to three degrees of separation, both online and offline .
And this is one of the main things that prompted me to write this article because the way people having been behaving is so detrimental to us all and it’s frightening to watch how many have been doing it so carelessly. You don’t need to know about research findings to know that your negativity and/or aggression is affecting others.
So a bit of thought goes a looong way.
7. Using positive thinking
Last but not least, how we use our thoughts in relation to everything, matters.
And it’s your thoughts that will determine whether you easily implement the above six traits or not.
Consciously and subconsciously our thoughts influence many things including our behaviours. And because of how the brain works, through repetition, thoughts become habits.
So let’s look at helpful statements – positive affirmations – that you can repeat to yourselves that will allow you to implement the aforementioned traits easily. These are examples, put them in your own words so that they sound the way you naturally speak.
Affirmations for being open-minded:
‘I am open-minded so that I am sure of my own beliefs and treat people with respect.’
Or simply, ‘I am open-minded.’
Affirmations for being compassionate:
‘I approach people with kindness, empathy and sympathy in my heart.’
Or simply, ‘I am compassionate.’
Affirmations for being respectful:
‘I respect that everybody is different and like to make them feel valued.’
Or simply, ‘I am respectful.’
Affirmations for being empathic:
‘I aim to understand what others have gone through and how they think and feel.’
Or simply, ‘I am empathic.’
Affirmations for being non-judgmental:
‘I appreciate everyone is different and I like to gain a better understanding of others.’
Or simply, ‘I am broad-minded.’
Affirmations for thinking before speaking:
‘I choose my words carefully so that they are helpful.’
Or simply, ‘I am thoughtful (with my words).’
You, me, us
When we are good to one another, it can be mutually elating. We become positively powerful. We are good for each other.
Together we can create more of that. Let’s do it!
1. Roberts, B. W., Luo, J., Briley, D. A., Chow, P. I., Su, R., & Hill, P. L. (2017). A systematic review of personality trait change through intervention. Psychological Bulletin, 143(2), 117–141. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000088
2. Reed, P., Bircek, N.I., Osborne, L.A., Viganò, C., & Truzoli, R. (2018). Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism. The Open Psychology Journal, 2018; 11 (1): 163 DOI: 10.2174/1874350101811010163
3. Holt-Lunstad, J., Robles, T. F. and Sbarra, D. A. (2017). Advancing Social Connection as a Public Health Priority in the United States. American Psychologist, 72(6): 517–30.
4. Cameron, C. D., Hutcherson, C. A., Ferguson, A. M., Scheffer, J. A., Hadjiandreou, E., & Inzlicht, M. (2019). Empathy is hard work: People choose to avoid empathy because of its cognitive costs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(6), 962–976. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000595
5. Coviello, L., Sohn, Y., Kramer, A. D. I., Marlow, C., Franceschetti, M., Christakis, N. A., et al. (2014). Detecting emotional contagion in massive social networks. PLoS ONE, 9(3):e90315. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090315
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