A comprehensive study has recently found the secret to happiness lies within each one of us, and if you don’t possess any of these 5 traits, don’t worry – there’s still hope.
It’s not found in the expensive things money can buy, and it can’t be found in another person. No, the secret to happiness is found within you – within your personality traits, to be precise.
How do we know this?
A groundbreaking study recently discovered a link between certain aspects of the Big 5 personality traits, and multiple dimensions of well-being.
If you aren’t completely familiar with the standard Big 5 model of personality types, they are broken down into: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness/intellect. Previous studies have only associated two of these traits with general well-being and happiness: high extraversion and low neuroticism. However, it is apparent that there must be more to it than just these two traits, and a recent study aimed to prove just that.
The study, led by co-author Scott Barry Kaufman from the University of Pennsylvania, consisted of 700 participants, who were approximately 36 years of age, and of which 54% were female. Participants were first asked to complete a personality survey, answering questions on a scale of 1-5 that they either agreed or disagreed with. They then were asked to fill out a Satisfaction of Life questionnaire, which gauged their overall well-being in a similar style to the first survey. Researchers took the Big 5 traits and broke them down into two separate facets, which allowed them to fine-tune the personality analysis of the participants. By doing this, they were able to pinpoint a direct link to well-being and the traits that are associated with it.
In relation to the 10 personality aspects the team observed, they found that 5 “were broadly related to well-being, 2 showed more limited links to well-being, and 3 aspects of personality were just not predictive of well-being,” according to Kaufman.
Now, it’s important to point out that well-being and happiness are not solely indicative of smiling people who are always positive. Kaufman and the rest of the team used three widely–recognized models of well-being to summarize its 11 most-prominent dimensions (Table 2).
They are as follows:
- Positive Emotions – High frequency and intensity of positive moods and emotions
- (Low) Negative Emotions – Low frequency and intensity of negative moods and emotions
- Life Satisfaction – A positive subjective evaluation of one’s life, using any information the person considers relevant
- Autonomy – Being independent and able to resist social pressures
- Environmental Mastery – Ability to shape environments to suit one’s needs and desires
- Personal Growth – Continuing to develop, rather than achieving a fixed state
- Positive Relations – Having warm and trusting interpersonal relationships
- Self-Acceptance – Positive attitudes toward oneself
- Purpose in Life – A clear sense of direction and meaning in one’s efforts
- Positive Emotions – Pleasant feelings, including contentment and joy
- Engagement – Being absorbed, interested, and involved in activities and life
- Relationships – Feeling loved, supported, and satisfied with one’s relationships
- Meaning – Having a sense of direction and purpose in life, or a connection to something greater than oneself
- Accomplishment – Goal progress and attainment, and feelings of mastery, efficacy, and competence
As was stated earlier, the study discovered 5 personality traits that were found to be highly indicative of well-being (Table 1), and they are enthusiasm, low withdrawal, industriousness, compassion and intellectual curiosity.
Kaufman calls these “The 5 Personal Paths to Well-Being,” and says “If you score high in any of these 5 personality aspects, you are probabilistically more likely to have high well-being across multiple aspects of your life.”
However, the researchers also discovered 2 traits that were still capable of bringing about increased aspects of well-being in a person’s life, albeit not as much as the previous traits.
Those are assertiveness (socially dominant, motivated to attain rewards, leadership, and provocative), and creative openness (needs creative outlets, appreciates beauty, daydreams).
And still, they found three personality traits which were linked to low well-being.
Two of the three might be a bit hard to grasp… They are politeness, orderliness, and volatility. That’s right, politeness and orderliness were two traits that were found to cause decreased levels of life-satisfaction and well-being. Volatility shouldn’t surprise too many people, considering being susceptible to mood instability and irritability, and having difficulties with impulse control has never made anyone happy.
‘These findings show that there are certain traits you can capitalize on more if you want to increase well-being in your life,’ said Kaufman.
Just to be clear, this is not a permanent setting, or something that is written in stone. If you do not possess any of those 5 traits associated with greater well-being in life, don’t stress- your personality can change! Of course, it’s only going to change as much as you allow it to.
Keep in mind that our thoughts literally change us, and that includes our personality traits.
By Raven Fon