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Is our way of thinking affected by our personality?

by Rick Baker
On Jul 22, 2011
Is our way of thinking affected by our personality?
Are we born positive thinker or do we learn from experiences (usually difficult)?
One of my LinkedIn friends asked those questions.
Here is how I answered…
Like you I think about these questions.
Based on personal experience and expert opinions [which I have read], the answers appear to be yes, yes, and yes.
Yes - some of our personality is directed by our genes. For example, experts have apparently identified long and short forms of a gene that is correlated with optimism and pessimism. Optimism-pessimism is connected with ‘positive thinking’, so – Yes – the genetic predispositions we are born with can cause us to be ‘by nature’ more-positive, less-positive, or middle-of-the-road.
The good news is – Yes – regardless – we can learn and teach ourselves how to become more positive.
It seems to me genetics influences about 50% and we can choose the other 50%...by working on things we see as promoting ‘positive attitude & positive thinking’.
Here’s what I mean by 50% - 50%.
When we are born we are predisposed to be negative or middle-of-the-road or positive. I envision this like a Bell Curve where 25% of people are genetically negative, 50% are genetically middle-of-the-road, and 25% are genetically positive. The extent of negativity or positivity is not fixed. Picture it as falling within a range…i.e., each of us is born with a predetermined range where we either ‘tend’ to be negative , ‘tend’ to be neutral, or ‘tend’ to be positive. While, as research strongly suggests, a range like I have described is set by genetics…pessimistic people can work at being at the most-optimistic end of their range, neutral people can work at being more-optimistic, and optimistic people can work at making sure their optimism stays within the bounds of realism. [Too much optimism carries some unfortunate consequences.]
How do we make sure we are positive enough?
What can we learn from experiences?
Many things...
As examples:
  • We can learn how to understand ourselves, particularly our moods
  • We can learn how to avoid negative situations [because situations impact on mood]
  • We can learn how to focus on using our strengths rather than correcting our weaknesses
  • We can learn how to have a thick skin…i.e., so others do not offend us
  • We can learn how to bolster our self-confidence


Personalities @ Work | Put Your Best Brain Forward

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