New research sheds light on one of the most commonly repeated phrases in our culture: people don't really ever change. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. A leopard doesn't change its spots. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
We all encountered numerous examples of this. People who claim they've changed but really haven't. Or tell us it's going to be different this time but it isn't. And of course, looking at ourselves, it often feels like we don't change enough--certainly not very quickly. Many of us are still dealing with the same problems and internal issues we've had for years--or even our entire lives.
On the other hand, the entire concept of the spiritual path is predicated on the ability to change and evolve. If change isn't really possible, whether through greater understanding, experience, or practice, than the entire concept of personal and spiritual growth is an illusion.
Speaking both personally and as someone who's met or taught thousands of spiritual seekers, I can say from personal experience that change is very much possible, though admittedly it sometimes comes slower than we wish. The good news is that's not just my subjective opinion. Research just published in the mainstream scientific journal, Social Indicators Research demonstrates that people in fact CAN change their personalities over time.
More importantly, positive changes in our personality aren't only possible but they lead to clear, measurable improvements in our happiness and well-being. Best of all, it turns out that learning to make inward changes in our personality is even more effective than worrying about changing our external environment or conditions. As the lead author of the study, Dr. Chris Boyce, writes:
"We found that our personalities can and do change over time -- something that was considered improbable until now -- and that these personality changes are strongly related to changes in our wellbeing. Compared with external factors, such as a pay rise, getting married or finding employment, personality change is just as likely and contributes much more to improvements in our personal wellbeing."
So the next time you find yourself thinking that change--yours or someone else's--just isn't possible, think again. There's a reason that spiritual geniuses of every religion and era advocate sincere spiritual practice. These things work. Try it and watch your life change for the better.
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