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chelle21689's avatar

Do you think people's habits change or they stay the same?

Asked by chelle21689 (7648points) October 31st, 2011

For example, you have that one friend that is always fashionably late. Many years you’ve known her to be that way.

Or that one cousin you have that is super tight with money and it’s so annoying because it affects what you do when you hang out with her like finding coupons before hanging out, making you pay her for gas when you get a ride even if the two of you made plans together

or that one ex that always forgot to call because he was more into his video games and never kept a real job because it wasn’t good enough for him so he had money issues that you had to put up with.

Things like that. Do you think most of the times people’s habits stay the same or change?

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Yes. Or do I mean “No”?

chelle21689's avatar

So what’s your answer?

john65pennington's avatar

My wife is a great example for your question. When I met her, she was a model for Bobbie Brooks clothes. Needless to say, she was a sharp dresser and a knockout.

That was 46 years ago. Today, her tradition of still looking good is as good as ever.

She has not changed one bit and aren’t I the lucky one?!!

JLeslie's avatar

I think people can change. Especially from childhood into adulthood. But even aduts can change throughout their grown up years.

I was much tighter with money when I had less money, although I do tend to still like to save and not spend frivilously.

I was always on time when I was very young, but dating a guy who always ran late changed me into someone who tends to run late also.

Certainly people who were losers when it came to holding down a job when they were teens can be very responsible and successful later on when they take it more seriously or have more obligations.

I know people who ate horribly and never exercised who became work out fanatics, watching their diets carefully.

I know people who weren’t very religious and then something triggered them to become religious or vice versa.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think it depends on the habit and if changes around the person impact on the habit. For example, if the tightwad came into money, they might not be so tight. But other habits that the environment doesn’t impact would be less likely to change.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Some habits change some don’t, it’s a bit akin to natural selection but honed by personal interest, value, and acceptance. If not brought to attention it can take a long time though as, being habits, they frequently border on unconscious action by their executors.

Seaofclouds's avatar

It depends on the person and the things going on in their life. Change is definitely possible, especially the types of things you mentioned in your details.

Sunny2's avatar

Kind of depends on the person. Some are flexible; others are not. Personally, I don’t like the same way all the time, so I try to change habits that are annoying to me. On the other hand, I don’t even brush my teeth at the same time everyday and have to check to see if the brush is wet to know if I already brushed them. I’m trying to change that one. There are other bad habits I’d like to change. We’ll see.
I know people who are always late and I figured out why, so it wouldn’t annoy me so much. Ones house is always spotless. I usually have dishes in the sink. It’s matter of priority. Mine is to be on time. The other always underestimates the time it will take her to get somewhere. I’ll overestimate and get there early. It takes all kinds.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it depends on what we’re talking about. I think if we are talking about core personality traits and concerns, they stay the same. I recently dug up a letter I wrote forty years ago. I apparently had the same concerns then as I do now. In particular, existential loneliness.

I think our skills change. Certainly I can think in a more sophisticated way now. I don’t say so many needlessly complex things. Anyway, I don’t think habits of thought change.

Behavioral habits can change a bit, but I think they, too, remain essentially the same. I think that people can change certain behavioral habits, like smoking or drinking or putting the toilet seat down. I think people can learn new skills. But those are primarily surface things. Underlying habits—how you walk, how you talk, how you think, etc—those don’t change. There’s no real reason for them to change. Those things are more you than anything else. They are how people recognize you. They are things we tend not to think about or even be aware of because they are so deep inside us.

We might change on the surface—a little bit. But in general, we stay the same all our lives unless we have severe brain damage. It is because we stay the same that we know we are ourselves.

chelle21689's avatar

wundavatta, best answer!

Seaofclouds's avatar

@wundayatta I do disagree a bit that the deep things (like how we think) never change. I believe they can and do change, but it usually takes a major life event to make that happen.

boxer3's avatar

People can change, if they make the decision that they wish to do so and actively work on it.
If they don’t see aproblem and try and change because someone tells them it’s a good idea, they most likely will not stick to IMO.

I think people grow, but the core of them generally stays the same.
This can be both a positive and a negative.

wundayatta's avatar

@Seaofclouds You know, this is kind of hard to talk about because we haven’t defined our terms: in particular, what change means. I think we might agree that major life events can change us, although whether they change our central personality cores (whatever that means), I don’t know.

Do you have an example of the kind of change you mean? For me, I feel like I have changed in one way that is pretty significant, while in another way I thought I had come a long way, and I haven’t.

I recently, as I’m sure you know by now, had my first (and hopefully only) episode of bipolar disorder. As a result, I feel like I have become much more empathetic. It’s hard to know if that’s a result of the bipolar or if it would have happened anyway. Is it a change in my core personality? I doubt it. I think the change is in the strength and facility of my empathy.

On the other hand, loneliness of the existential sort has recently been a pretty big concern of mine. Looking through letters from when I was 17 (I’m 55 now), I discovered I was writing about this concern in pretty much the same way as I think about it now. I was a little less sophisticated in my understanding, and in the letter, I was trying to be flippant because I was hurting and didn’t want to show it, but at it’s core, I could tell, it was the same as I am now. This is something that has been driving me all my life. I have always been lonely, despite many long term relationships (relationships of two years or more, including a 21 year marriage) since then. The inner me, it seems, is a tough nut to crack. I have never felt totally open and accepted—there are historical reasons for this.

Anyway, if you care to share, I’d like to hear an example of what you are talking about.

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