We tend to extol many personal characteristics such as intelligence and honesty, but there is one quality that is rarely mentioned when we openly discuss what we appreciate and value in others. That grossly underrated and often overlooked quality is maturity.
In psychology, maturity is defined as the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. Psychologists say that this response is generally learned rather than instinctive; therefore, the ability to discern the appropriate from the inappropriate is not only key, but is a cognitive and conscientious process.
Maturity encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society one lives in.
Perhaps this is why my mother used to say, "There's a time and place for everything." She was planting the seeds of awareness in my mind that would blossom into emotional intelligence, which breeds maturity.
When you think about it, maturity is like sugar: it's an enhancer that makes other personal qualities sweeter. And like sugar, you can taste its absence - especially in people.
Maturity is also a prerequisite to wisdom.
Just as we all strive to become old and wise (and it doesn't have to be in that order), we should strive to achieve and develop our maturity. After all, it's the single characteristic that most defines character and encompasses so many other positive personal qualities.