A wise author by the name of B.J. Neblett once said, “We are the sum total of our experiences.” Of course, there will always be debate over the influence of nature versus nurture, but the undeniable truth is that what we’re exposed to in the early stages of life can and will strongly impact the development of our personalities, in more ways than we realize. In fact, according to a new study that researched how the weather affects your mood and your personality, it turns out the average temperature of your hometown could be very telling in terms of whether you are more introverted or extroverted.
The research, which comes from the journal Nature, focused on the behavioral traits of more than 1.5 million people living in both the United States and China, and how their personalities aligned with the average temperature of their hometown. From these observations, it was concluded that those who grew up in environments that were recorded as too hot or too cold were more likely to identify as introverted, while those who lived in areas where the average temperature reached a more mild 72 degrees Fahrenheit were more extroverted.
Aside from this one study, there's plenty of research supporting the idea that the weather can affect your mood.
For me, as far as seasons go, fall and spring are my favorites. As far as I'm concerned, nothing beats a crisp autumn afternoon when it’s just cool enough to snuggle in an oversized sweater without shivering, or a sunny spring morning with a slight breeze blowing against my favorite denim jacket. In life, comfort is key, and what the weather is like outside can absolutely affect how you're feeling on any given day.
The weather can affect not only how you’re feeling on a daily basis, but also your overall mental health. For example, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a “type of depression that’s related to changing seasons.” Those who suffer from SAD generally show symptoms like low energy and a loss of interest in social activities at the start of winter, and tend to feel better once spring has sprung.
Of course, while SAD is a real, diagnosable form of depression, most of us can relate to the downer that wintertime can often be. I know myself, and once autumnal temps plummet below 50 degrees, I get super lethargic and would much rather hibernate under the blankets with my husband, kitty, and a Netflix marathon than throw on something pretty and grab a drink with my girlfriends. When the last snow of the season has melted and springtime is in full bloom, however, that's a different story.
For most of us, warm temperatures improve our mood, which might be because warmth is said to have an antidepressant effect. Christopher Lowry, PhD, associate professor of integrative physiology and a member of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Psychology Today that "spring fever" is seen when our skin becomes warmer, and pleasant stimulation is activated in our brain. In other words, the better the weather conditions, the better we feel mentally and physically.
But even though the weather can affect your mood and your personality, it doesn't completely define who you are as a person.
Let me just say that, for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert. As long as you can honestly say you’re happy in your lifestyle and that, despite your preference of pets to people, you still make time for your friends and family on occasion, then do you, girl. However, if you are someone who tends to be on the shyer side of the spectrum and are interested in branching out, you absolutely can change your mindset to meet your goal.
While I can agree with the concept of weather affecting mood and how we enjoy spending our free time, people change with their surroundings. Ergo, just because you may have grown up in Alaska spending the majority of your days inside than out, doesn't mean you can't move to Los Angeles and become more active outside the homestead.
That's not to say that moving someplace sunnier is the key to happiness. There's definitely more to your mood than how much sunshine you're soaking in. But the weather of your hometown doesn't automatically determine who you are and who you will be for the rest of your life. Personally, I'm a strong believer that if you change your mind, you can change your mood, so if you're feeling particularly adventurous, take the plunge! But if you're feeling a Friday night in with a bowl of popcorn and movies instead, that's fine, too.