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The Maturity Principle

2 min read

Did you know personality tends to get better over time? Psychologists call it “the maturity principle.”  It’s when people become more extroverted, emotionally stable, agreeable and conscientious as they grow older. Of course, some individuals might change less than others, but in general, the maturity principle applies to everyone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely less impulsive and more self-confident than when I was in my 20s. And now I understand why: our personalities can adapt, and this helps us to cope with the challenges that life throws at us.

Basically, according to research,  our traits are ever-shifting, and by the time we’re in our 70s and 80s, we’ve undergone a significant transformation. And guess what? While people are used to thinking of ageing in terms of deterioration and decline, the gradual modification of our personalities has some surprising upsides: we become more agreeable and less neurotic.

You are not a single and narrow type of person – explains Dr Benjamin Hardy, author of ‘Personality Isn’t Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story‘. – In different situations and around different people, you are different. Your personality is dynamic, flexible, and contextual. Moreover, your personality changes throughout your life, far more than you can presently imagine.

In particular, Hardy argues that we can change ourselves anytime and anyway. In fact, our personality has probably changed a ton over the years as “human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” In other words, as we gain more life experience and battle our way through hardships, our paths are constantly being explored which causes us to grow. 

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But how does this change happen? “It is often by taking opportunities or responsibilities above (or seemingly “unnatural” to) your skill level and experience that forces the greatest growth. If you’re waiting to find something you feel immediate or intuitive passion for, then you’re going to miss most of your greatest opportunities for growth and success,” he adds.

Of course, we don’t simply change our personalities in random ways. However, if you are looking for ways to improve your life, know that the key to personal transformation is “becoming psychologically flexible, not over attaching to our current identity or perspectives. Becoming insatiably committed to a future purpose and embracing emotions rather than avoiding them is how radical change occurs.”

In the end, our life purpose isn’t something we discover, but something we ultimately choose ourselves thanks to our personal evolution.

Let’s stop looking for it and make the choice, then allow that choice to transform us.

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