“Lord, Keep my mind free from the endless recital of details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
“I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
“Keep me reasonably sweet…a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.”
I thought of this when the Wall Street Journal published an article ((April 22, 2014) on how our personalities change as we get older. It starts when we’re in our twenties and thirties. Bitter and complaining old people showed similar personality characteristics when they were young.
There are two sides to this according to research cited in the WSJ. Often we get worse and more ornery as we get older. But we also can get more pleasant. Some personality traits improve on their own, as we gain experience and broader perspectives. Overall, many people get more trusting, interested in others, open about feelings, pleasant to work with and less anxious—to list a few examples. And the improvements can be speeded along in people who learn to let go of the negative attitudes, including the belief that “This is the way I am so I won’t ever change.” That’s not true, as that old nun probably knew.
All of this can have great influence on leaders, coaches, counselors and others who work with people. Change for the better is slow and occurs in small steps. The Bible describes how the Holy Spirit moves the change along (Galatians 5:22-25) and so can the help of counselors, pastors, and others.
How do you react to this? How does it apply to your work or to you personally? Please leave a comment.