Is Happiness or Personality Predetermined At Birth?

"It is biologically impossible for a gene to operate independently of its environment. Genes are designed to be regulated by signals from their immediate environment."  
- Daniel Goleman, expert on social and environmental intelligence.

Goleman’s statement has massive implications for us as parents, caregivers and support providers. Environment, he says, not only plays a hugely significant role in our children’s development in how it affects and forms them, but it even affects what genes get expressed! This is great news! It means that we have more influence in the development of our children than was once thought.

There is a popular misconception that our genetic makeup is more rigid than it is - that we are what we are - almost regardless of our experiences. This is not so. We are actually made by our experiences and - thank goodness – "neither personality nor happiness are predetermined at birth," says sociologist and happiness expert Christine Carter PhD.

So it is possible to "teach an old dog new tricks!" Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean we have to be perfect parents. It just means that we have to be good enough, involved enough, and cognizant of the fact that we can and should foster positive mental and emotional health and resilience in our children.