Can anybody ever really escape their destiny?
Geneticists say that you are 50% of your parents. Of the remaining 50% that isn’t, your genes predispose you to think, feel, and behave a certain way.
Can a person every really change themselves? We are told that the first 5-7 years of our lives are formative ones in terms of psychological development. As far as our personality goes, the die is cast. This may be nurture’s greatest moment to make a difference.
As we get older, we learn our limits, our faults and foibles, and we are encouraged by others to undo all our bad habits. The self-help industry is booming. Perhaps, it’s booming, because it’s an impossible goal? Even as we change over time, as we mature, can this change ever be fundamental? Can we ever become completely unlike our earlier selves?
Recent studies suggest that roughly 60% of our perspective - our world view - is unalterable. In other words, we either have a happy or unhappy disposition through which everything gets filtered. We can move the needle along the continuum only as much as 40%. So, for someone who is at one end of the spectrum - for example, someone who’s often depressed - they can learn to cope, but never to be considered ‘happy’.
If this is true, then nurture cannot radically alter our destiny, because we cannot nurture ourselves to radically change. We are forever trapped in our own heads, the circuitry of which was mainly forged before birth and in our first few years of life. We can subsequently spend a lifetime trying to modify it.
On the other hand, we cannot ignore that nurture has a major role to play in society. For example, great societies come and go. Think back on where Egypt, Greece, and Italy were a millennia ago and where they are now. It’s difficult to argue that their genetic make-up has radically altered. Instead, their culture must have had an instrumental role to play in their brilliance, once upon a time. So, nurture may have little effect on the individual. But, on a society as a collective whole, it’s effect can be profound.
What do you think...?
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