Human Nature – Fixed or Changeable?

I have always been an observer of human nature. Even as a child, before I even knew what psychology was, I studied people. An exploration that I do in intro to psychology is the exploration of personality traits as being fixed or changeable. The familiar statement, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is dated, but for some people, this may be true. Unlike the old assumption of tabula rasa (we are a blank slate at birth) we are born with a unique personality. Yet the nature of our personality is about adapting to an environment – a source of change, most likely to fit in and survive. However, there are behaviors that are fixed that would be better off if they were changeable. Example? How a person deals with rejection. According to Carol Dweck (The New Psychology of Success), those who treat rejection as a learning experience are more likely to develop better strategies with a healthier mindset, a.k.a. positive wellbeing. Those who treat the rejection as a personal attack are more likely to look toward revenge. In this exploration, the fixed mindset is not adaptable and can even negatively effect longevity. Overall I believe the average person has a level of malleability to adjust to situations both pleasant and unpleasant. The take away is how a person is willing to challenge negative behaviors to change to a healthier outlook and thereby increase wellbeing.

Perception

Do you remember when you were a child and you accidently ate a watermelon seed? Your friends and siblings had you convinced you were going to sprout a watermelon plant in your stomach. Even later when you knew better you were really cautious about those seeds. Perception is essential to balance. Part of your perception is innate. It is your nature to view your environment with a lens of personal beliefs. The other part of perception is environment – the cues you received from family and community that shaped your beliefs. Perception can promote bias, make negative generalizations, and create problems that do not really exist. This can lead to unhealthy relationships and  poor mental and physical health.

While subjective perception (your own personal views of how the world works) feels safe and right, it can counteract with the perception of others. Who is right? Who is wrong? Motivation to reduce counteraction in personal and public relationships means finding commonality. It means trusting that differences in perception are not a threat, but natural, and that people may still be inherently good regardless of their perceptions. Remember, perception does not make it fact even though it feels like fact. Work through why your beliefs are different than others without making anyone wrong.

Lists for Mental Health

Why is it important? I consider it the method for determining whether you are living or surviving. If you are going through each day just to get to the next day, to get through the week, you are surviving and not living. A barrier to living can be not knowing what you really want in life. Time to make two lists! What I want in my life — and more important than that — what I DON’T want in my life. Once you have narrowed down your categories, the next step will be setting goals to achieve what you want and eliminating what you don’t want. I know it sounds too simple to be true, but knowing what you don’t want is a good way to change habits, rid yourself of negative people, set on a path to what will make you happy!

The Road’s Journey Lies Ahead

Life is not all or nothing, black or white, yes or no, good or evil. It is about maintaining an equilibrium or balance within life that achieves one’s physical and emotional health in the best way possible. There are many sites on the web that promote balance only as a matter or how your exercise or how you eat. So many leave out the most important qualifier; how mental health affects physical health – and likewise. The intention of this blog is to help the reader achieve true balance that is holistically derived. By holistic, I mean the gestalt belief that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Specifically this means that by only focusing on a part of what makes up balance one is not addressing the whole that provides a true, viable balance. The road that lies ahead through this blog is the journey to positive, effective balance!