Orange is a mellow, nonchalant, trusting feline; he’s the walking stereotype of a cool cat. While petting him this morning, I reminisced about other cats I’ve known over the years and how each of them had different temperaments.

My sister’s cat, Random Kitty, is the polar opposite of Orange. He’s skittish and aggressive. He doesn’t like to cuddle the way that Orange does. Several years ago, I had a grey tabby named Kitsch. He was as laid-back of a cat as a cat can be; but he could go into a panic with the least amount of provocation. Kitsch and I got along well together because we had similar temperaments. He was also the only cat I could trust to rarely misbehave.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fairly liberal temperament. I consider this to be an asset because it allows me to give ample leeway to my acquaintances and friends. I may have fundamental disagreements with an acquaintance yet I do not think of her or him as an inherently bad person. The acquaintance is just someone who lives life within a different paradigm. It takes a major betrayal before I will disassociate with any particular acquaintance.

Some friends have observed that as I’ve grown older, I don’t know better; I only know more; and that I’m more trusting than necessary. Perhaps they’re correct in their assessments, but this doesn’t seem to be the case to me. The friends usually fail to take my skeptical nature into account. Then again, second party observations can still be valuable touching points during one’s own self evaluation.

As children and adolescents, we grow up observing our parents’ and other family members’ behaviors. We notice whether they have angry or calm reactions during difficult situations. Do they fly off the handle or are they composed and deliberate? We are fascinated by their temperament and adapt to each personality so as to optimize our coexistence with these people.

An old activist friend once noted that she believed that I don’t have the temperament of an activist because I like to listen to different points of view and allow people to have their say. In her opinion, I liked getting along with people almost to a fault. The friend said that activists need to suppress such inclinations if they wish to be successful activists. Of course, I let her voice her opinion; however, I disagreed at an elemental level. I believe it’s important to find out what makes an opponent tick so I know what to expect during a possible confrontation. I believe it’s important to understand an adversary’s temperament and point of view in order to be an effective activist and advocate.

During the process of growing up or undertaking a period of personal development, we know we may be lacking in certain real-world skills. If we are honest with ourselves we know we need to learn more about the “mechanics” of adapting ourselves to various scenarios. We develop the ability to transcend parts of our temperament so as to become the best version of ourselves as we can be.

People, like cats, are different and unique in our circumstances of growing up. Our experiences and reactions to various events and trials depend a great deal upon our temperament that, in turn, help determine our likes and dislikes. Our temperaments largely guide us along our paths through life. Honestly understanding our temperaments is vital to knowing our potential. Through knowing one’s own temperament and how to work in harmony with it, a person can live a more effective, satisfying life.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes essayist, librettist, and novelist, E. M. Forster. “It is my fate and perhaps my temperament to sign agreements with fools.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Temperament

  1. Your activist friend was a real doozy. He/she may be right about what it takes to successfully lead people down the wrong path.

  2. I think your activist friend is mistaken. Being loud and aggressive gets attention, but listening to other people, making them feel heard, and understanding their position well enough to speak to their concerns about your position, and above all, treating them with respect and dignity, is a lot more likely to convince someone long-term. Being aggressive almost encourages a reflexive contrary response, I think.

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