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Opinion |  You may be a different person after the pandemic

For those who cannot afford therapy, digital tools may soon be available. In a recent study of 1,500 participants, Mirjam Stieger, a postdoctoral researcher at Brandeis University, found that the most popular goals for personality change were to reduce neuroticism, increase awareness, or increase awareness. extroversion.

Dr. Stieger and her colleagues developed an app that reminded people to do small tasks to help them polish their personalities, such as “talking to a stranger when you go shopping.” Then the app asked them if they actually did this behavior. Dr Stieger found that the personalities of study participants had actually changed compared to a control group that did not use the app. And after three months of follow-up, the changes were stuck.

Here’s what a post-pandemic makeover might look like: Someone who was chronically late in the Before Times might be working to be more conscientious or timely. One way to show your friends how much you’ve missed them is to start respecting their time.

Or if you’re someone who usually reacts with suspicion and anger when an acquaintance cancels their plans, you can try to be nicer or forgive the little social clashes. Even making these plans in the first place can help you become more outgoing or open up to new experiences. And for neurotic nerve bundles like myself, Dr. Stieger suggested relaxing for, say, 10 minutes each night. It sounds crazy, but I guess it might work.

Despite its jagged connotation, pleasantness implies greater empathy and a greater concern for others. The pandemic has laid bare the frightening inequality of American life and has made some people – like single parents and essential workers – carry an overwhelming weight. As we become nicer, we might try to remember the uniqueness of each person’s experience and become kinder to each other. Although the pandemic is ending, its scars may take some time to heal. Treating people with patience and, yes, with kindness, will help with this healing.

Through painful isolation, this past year has perversely revealed the value of friendships and social bonds. For those who want to renew connections that have atrophied, strengthen the friendships that have migrated to Zoom, or live differently, it is very possible to do so. Remember, your personality is more like a sand dune than a stone.

Olga Khazan is a writer for The Atlantic and author of “Weird”, which this essay is adapted from.

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