Getting Nicer as You Age

April 30, 2014

Scientists are now saying that as you get older, you get nicer. They have done all kinds of studies to prove their premise that “The personality changes naturally over the course of adulthood. Researchers call it the maturity principle.” They claim that “From the ages of 20 to 65, apparently we become less angry and neurotic and more agreeable and emotionally stable.”

I’m not a research scientist but I’ve always been an observer of human nature and I subscribe to the theory that what you are at seven, you’ll be at seventy. As you get older, it’s more likely that you will become more of what you were when you were younger, than becoming less of what you were.

People don’t become less angry as they get older. If they were neurotic and unstable before the ages of twenty to sixty-five, don’t expect them to be less so simply because they’ve lived long enough to fit into the demographics of being nicer as they age.

They may change certain aspects of their personality but they don’t change their inner core. I’ve watched small children take toys away from their friends and not be moved by their friends’ tears or pleas. I’ve also watched them grow up and become uncaring adults, both in relationships and in business.

Events do shape our lives and we make the changes in our behavior to accommodate the shifting sands of fortune. But do we change our real selves? I think not.

What I do think is that we change our priorities in life. What consumed us passionately in our twenties and thirties aren’t as important to us in our fifties and sixties. I think the studies mistake maturity and personality changes, with replacing our interests and goals to match our health and our opportunities at different age levels.

I once heard a man say that he was surprised that his friend was behaving deplorably, that he thought age conferred wisdom. His wife replied, “Just because he got older doesn’t mean he got wiser. In his case, he just got older.”

Old age doesn’t confer wisdom but our experiences do give us a wider range of knowing what works for us and what doesn’t, yet we still do things that we know are not good for us. So, does old age really make us wiser, less angry, and less emotionally unstable? Again, I think not.

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