Website owner: James Miller
This world is full of surprises. Reality is so often so very different from the appearance. That attractive woman that dresses so well and always looks so neat and sharp is actually a slovenly, untidy, negligent person whose house looks as if it had been hit by a hurricane. That lovely couple that seem so nice, living in that big, impressive house, are actually living from paycheck to paycheck, are always in need of money, and, in fact, have made repeated trips up to see the man's widowed mother begging for money. More than that, they are very anxiously waiting for her to die, so they can have her estate. That TV preacher that sounds so sincere and convincing and has such a huge audience suddenly appears in all the newspaper headlines for doing things that preachers ought not be doing. Life is full of illusion and deception. The appearance that a person presents to friends and acquaintances outside the home may be quite different from that real person that his spouse and family knows. When we meet a person for the first time and talk with him for a little while we gain some initial impressions of him. He unconsciously gives up a certain amount of information about himself. From his words, his grammar, etc. we may gain some idea of his intellectual stature, how much education he has, etc. We may note things like shyness, boldness, quietness, talkativeness, politeness, rudeness, coarseness, pride, humility, friendliness, unfriendliness, self-confidence, pleasantness, seriousness. Just how closely the impressions come to the truth is dependent on how good we are at picking up signs and interpreting the information. Some people are really great talkers. Some people can be very charming and likable. They can impress us. We are almost forced to like them. It is only with time, after we know more about them, have had more experience with them, that we like them less. Often great talkers are also great liars. People have sets of traits, ways, attitudes, outlooks, beliefs and habits that define them. And people almost never change. They tend to acquire a set of personal ways, traits and tendencies when they are young that define them for their life. Once the habits, tendencies, and behavior patterns of youth have solidified, crystalized, they rarely change. It is said that a leopard cannot change his spots. People generally don't change in their basic inclination and nature, once it has crystalized. Some people are energetic, hard working, and perseverant. Others are lazy and put very little effort into life. Some people are workers and some just play. Some people are kind and caring. Some are con artists who care about no one and would rip off anyone. A con artist is always a con artist. An honest man remains an honest man. A lazy person remains lazy. I think it is possible, through the Christian message of repentance, for a person to change at the most basic level, but in my observation of life, I think it happens very rarely. From what I have observed, the general rule is that people never change. The proud man was probably proud as a child and remains proud all his life. The malicious, vindictive person probably became that way as a child and will remain so for all his life. Personality traits are habits and habits, once set, rarely change. In regard to any particular personality trait that we might mention there is generally a gigantic spectrum. In regard to the trait of industriousness there are some people who are extremely hard working at one end of the spectrum and people who never work, just play, at the other end. There are some people who are very energetic, filled with energy, and there are others at the other end of the spectrum who are extremely lazy, lethargic and apathetic, who put nothing into life. Some people are filled with enthusiasm, other people have none. In regard to perseverance, there are some people who are extremely perseverant, who will never quit, never admit defeat, and there are others who will scarcely try, who give up almost before they start. In regard to honesty, there are some people who are extremely honest and there are others who are totally dishonest. There are some people who are very kind and considerate of others at one end of the spectrum and there are people who are hard, cruel and even gain pleasure from hurting others at the other end of the spectrum. There are those who are extremely proud and arrogant at one end and those who are very meek and humble at the other end. There are some people who are extremely self-reliant and others who are extremely dependent. There are some people who are extremely conscientious and others who are extremely negligent, careless, lax and indifferent. There are some people who are very disciplined and others who have no self-discipline. There are some people who have great self-confidence and others who lack greatly in self-confidence. In regard to personal moral standards, some people have very high moral standards and others have none. In regard to thoughtfulness, there are some people who are very much inclined towards thought and reflection and others who have no tendencies in that direction at all. Some people are very organized and methodical and others are a total disaster. Some people are very frugal and others can't save a penny. If we could list a hundred different personal traits such as we have listed above we would have a huge spectrum for each one and that means that there are gigantic differences between people. Not only do people differ radically in personal traits but also in attitudes, outlooks, values and beliefs. In observing other people much depends on the eye of the beholder. Much depends on the observer's outlooks, attitudes and values. For example, when a person tells me he will do a thing and then doesn't do it, it is something that I will note and remember. Others might not take note of it or care about it. For me it is an important piece of information about him. I am partial to honest people who do what they say. I am biased against dishonest people. A person's honesty, or lack of it, is very important to me. To understand what kind of person someone is you observe him. You observe conduct. You note things they say. Things they do give clues to how honest they are, how just they are, how kind they are. Behavior provides clues on things like selfishness, self-centeredness, trustworthiness. Things they say gives clues to their outlooks, values, and beliefs. To understand what their personality traits are, what kind of material they are made out of, what their good points and faults are, you must observe their behavior. Observe it over a period of time. We build up our knowledge of a person with observation over time. People unwittingly give up information about themselves one bit at a time. To discover that set of attitudes, values, ways, habits and character traits that define a particular person you must observe conduct. The people we know the best are people we have lived with for a sizable length of time. We know, for example, the personal traits and idiosyncrasies of our parents, siblings and spouses very well. And much of our knowledge of them comes from a multitude of small incidents. We know their tendencies and inclinations, we know what we can expect from them. We know them. Initial impressions formed from appearances and glib talk can be deceiving. Personality traits reveal themselves through behavior, actions. Things like honesty, dishonesty, diligence, perseverance or lack of it, laziness, kindness, cruelty, malice, selfishness, integrity, moral degeneracy, jealousy, envy, ignorance, shyness, boldness, shallowness, seriousness reveal themselves through actions over time. We show what we are by our actions. To get an accurate knowledge of just what kind of person someone is one needs to have a close association with him over a period of time as in a marriage or work situation. A person can do a lot of fancy, high-toned, convincing talking but if the talk is in conflict with conduct and action, you believe the conduct. In connection with all this a proverb comes to mind: You must judge a maiden at the kneading trough, and not at the dance. She may sing and dance very well. But there are things that are more important than singing and dancing. Like integrity and character. Feb 2010 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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Principles for Living Life
Topically Arranged Proverbs, Precepts, Quotations. Common Sayings. Poor Richard's Almanac.
America has lost her way
The really big sins
Theory on the Formation of Character
You are what you eat
People are like radio tuners --- they pick out and listen to one wavelength and ignore the rest
Cause of Character Traits --- According to Aristotle
These things go together
We are what we eat --- living under the discipline of a diet
Avoiding problems and trouble in life
Role of habit in formation of character
The True Christian
What is true Christianity?
Personal attributes of the true Christian
What determines a person's character?
Love of God and love of virtue are closely united
Walking a solitary road
Intellectual disparities among people and the power in good habits
Tools of Satan. Tactics and Tricks used by the Devil.
On responding to wrongs
Real Christian Faith
The Natural Way -- The Unnatural Way
Wisdom, Reason and Virtue are closely related
Knowledge is one thing, wisdom is another
My views on Christianity in America
The most important thing in life is understanding
Sizing up people
We are all examples --- for good or for bad
Television --- spiritual poison
The Prime Mover that decides "What We Are"
Where do our outlooks, attitudes and values come from?
Sin is serious business. The punishment for it is real. Hell is real.
Self-imposed discipline and regimentation
Achieving happiness in life --- a matter of the right strategies
Self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline basic to so much in life
We are our habits
What creates moral character?