From cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Christian Jarrett, a fascinating book exploring the science of personality and how we can change ourselves for the better.
What if you could exploit the plasticity of personality to change yourself in specific ways?
Would you choose to become less neurotic? More self-disciplined? Less shy?
Until now, we’ve been told that we’re stuck with the personality we were born with: The introvert will never break out of their shell, the narcissist will be forever trapped gazing into the mirror.
In Be Who You Want, Dr. Christian Jarrett takes us on a thrilling journey, as he not only explores the ways that life changes us, but shows how we can deliberately shape our personalities to influence the course of our lives.
Dr. Jarrett draws on the latest research to provide evidence-based ways to change each of the main five personality traits, including how to become more emotionally stable, extraverted, and open-minded. Dr. Jarrett features compelling stories of people who have achieved profound personality change such as a gang-leader turned youth role model, a drug addict turned ultra-runner, and a cripplingly shy teenager turned Hollywood mega-star. He also delves into the upsides of the so-called Dark Triad of personality traits—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—and how we might exploit their advantages without ourselves going over to the dark side.
Filled with quizzes and interactive exercises to help us better understand the various aspects of our personalities, life stories, and passions, Be Who You Want will appeal to anyone who has ever felt constrained by how they've been characterized and wants to pursue lasting change.
"People do change, and... if you want to change yourself, you can," writes psychologist Jarrett (Great Myths of the Brain) in this enthusiastic guide to changing one's personality. He begins with an exercise that rates readers on each of the "big five" components of personality extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeability, and conscientiousness and outlines the elements important to personality formation (a mixture of biology, genes, and life experiences). Exercises to help readers identify and shift their personalities come in each chapter: writing out one's life experiences, for example, can reveal "fascinating things about your personality and how it has been molded by what you've been through," and memory training exercises can help improve neuroticism. Along the way, he describes how brain injuries can cause personality changes (one woman went from "stern" to easygoing), touches on such disruptors as trauma and substance abuse, and explains the "dark triad" traits Machiavellism, narcissism, psychopathy that are thought to be exceedingly difficult to change. Things wrap up with 10 actionable principles "of personal reinvention" that include being honest with oneself and enlisting the help of others. Jarrett's passion and encouragement will give readers the confidence they need to switch things up.