Archives for Personality
It’s Anti-Bullying Week and this year’s theme is Stop and Think—Words Can Hurt. Interestingly, for all our focus on how to stop kids from bullying each other, we have precious little research addressing what parenting styles are likely to produce bullies. Because, let’s face it, if your nine-year-old child is a bully, chances are very good you and/or the child’s other parent can take credit.
I am not a spontaneous person. When a surprise invitation or opportunity appears, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll pass it up. Maybe even 60/40. Maybe even more, but I don’t want to admit that to myself. Spontaneity is a good thing. I know this because in romance movies, guys always dump their tightly-wound girlfriends for kooky, devil-may-care, spontaneous girls. And I can see for myself that spontaneous people lead colorful lives full of surprise. My life is pretty interesting, but it’s more a trip on a lazy river than a thrilling tumble down whitewater rapids. Is that OK?
Today's guest blogger is Irene S. Levine, PhD, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend and co-author of Schizophrenia for Dummies. Irene discusses about all sorts of issues surrounding women's friendships on her blogs The Friendship Blog and The Friendship Doctor. Many women write to me perplexed about why they can't form close friendships. They try new approaches, put themselves in all the right places, see therapists, and read relevant self-help books. They consider themselves interesting, loyal, kind, and friend-worthy people. But for reasons unknown to them, they have a tough time forming the intimate relationships other women seem to have and that they covet for themselves. Many admit to not having even one close friend. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers some clues as to how both nature (personality) and nurture (experience) impact our friendships. Researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Toronto, Mississauga studied more than 7000 American adults between the ages of 20 and 75 over a period of ten years, looking at the number of times these adults moved during childhood. Their study, like prior ones, showed a link between "residential mobility" and adult well-being: The more times participants moved as children, the poorer the quality of their adult social relationships.
Are you happy? How happy? On a scale of 1-5, are you a 5? Does that mean you’re happier than the person next to you, who put his happiness at 4? Are you sure? How do you know? What if you have just come out of a major depression and are feeling pretty damn 5 about life for a change? Are you as happy as the woman who dances her way into every party, hands in the air, shouting woooooo? Where does her happiness fall on that 1-5 scale? How can we measure happiness?
Gluten-free, day 26. It’s been that long since my last bowl of pasta and the realization that the unbearably itchy Mystery Pox I’d fought intermittently for a couple of years was probably a reaction to gluten. Me, the queen of the PB&J foldover. A pizza addict. A bread fiend. A cookie monster. Gluten intolerant. My initial horror at this idea was tempered by relief at having identified (fingers crossed) the Mystery Pox that had four doctors scratching their heads while I was scratching everything else. So at first, I was giddy. I read up on gluten-free living, found recipes, made my first batch of (delicious) gluten-free brownies. Then I made another batch of brownies, as a consolation prize. Because I started realizing, one favorite food at a time, how much I was giving up. I entered a period of mourning that continues to this day. (Today I remembered funnel cake.) I’m sure I’ll get over it. It’s only day 26. In a way, I’m lucky. The memory of the Mystery Pox is powerful motivation for me to stay on the wagon. And I’m lucky that gluten sensitivity is all the rage these days, so finding gluten-free products is pretty easy. But still, I’m in the nitty gritty of trying to change old habits and that's not easy.
I’m not starved for praise. I do a few things pretty well, and enough people have told me so to keep my ego reasonably healthy. Why is it, then, that ten instances of praise can be completely canceled out (in my head) by one good criticism? And by good, I mean on the mark and not stupid. Because, of course, the criticism that hurts the most is the criticism that we know, deep down, is accurate. Praise is nice but mostly rolls off my back while one solid criticism—even sensitively expressed--can put me in the fetal position.
Evidence about the benefits of optimism is piling up and it kind of bums me out. It’s churlish to resent something so cheery, but optimism is a pretty stable trait. You’re an optimist or you’re not. You might be optimistic in some situations—situational optimism—and still lack an optimistic disposition.