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5 Personality Traits Happy People Share, According to Science

Are you happy? Only 33 percent of people would reply “yes” to that question, according to the 2017 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness. Those results are perhaps unsurprising. We face more pressure now than ever before in our lives and careers. The world is an increasingly chaotic, noisy place.

Most of all, happiness means different things to different people, and because of that, there are many paths to achieve it. While one person may thrive in a fast-paced, competitive environment, another person may value being able to do their work alone in solitude.

While the “how” of happiness may vary between individuals, new research has found that there are a few personality traits that correlate strongly to better well-being.
The study conducted by positive psychologists, Jessie Sun, Scott Barry Kaufman, and Luke D. Smillie, broke down the classic Big Five personality framework into more nuanced dimensions, which allowed them to paint a more specific picture of what contributes to well-being and happiness.

In their results, they found five different “personal paths to well-being”:

1. Enthusiasm

Sociable and expressive, enthusiastic love to laugh and have fun. They tend to have more positive emotions, self-acceptance, and purpose in life. This reflects in their happiness levels:  people high in enthusiasm report higher life satisfaction and stronger relationships.

2. Low withdrawal

Everyone gets overwhelmed and turns inwards sometimes, but those low in withdrawal handle it more gracefully. They are lower in neuroticism, which means they experience less anxiety and aren’t as self-conscious. Put simply, they are more emotionally stable and less reactive to stress.

3. Industriousness

Perfectionists and productivity lovers rejoice! According to this study, being high in elements of conscientiousness is a good thing. The propensity to think ahead, plan, work hard, and follow through are not only linked to high-achievement, but also a feeling of mastery and engagement in life.

4. Compassion

Thoughtful, empathic people can get ahead after all. People who are compassionate care about others’ well-being, and as a result, increase their own. So go ahead and spend some time today practicing gratitude or helping someone in your network. It’ll be well worth the time investment.

5. Intellectual Curiosity

Those who are intellectually curious love to solve complex problems, yet are open to new ideas. They reflect, think deeply, and challenge themselves to grow.

Assertiveness and creative openness were two traits also predictive of certain aspects of well-being, but less so than the five above. Additionally, the study found that politeness, orderliness, and volatility were not at all predictive of well-being.

Can any of these traits be acquired or developed? “Relax!” Kaufman says, “Personality can be changed. A large number of scientific studies are piling up now showing that interventions exist to change personality.”

One place to start is getting control over negative thinking and emotions. You’re capable of more growth than you think.

5 Personality Traits Happy People Share, According to Science


Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding, LMSW is a performance coach, licensed social worker, and has a Masters from Columbia. She helps established and rising managers and executives advance in their careers. Her clients work at companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, HP, and Deloitte. She also helps entrepreneurs take bold steps to grow their businesses. Melody has helped over 10,000 smart, self-aware people like you. Her coaching gives you actionable strategies to reach your goals. You get concrete steps to overcome the complex struggles of success. Melody loves arming ambitious people with tools and tactics to boost their confidence. She can teach you skills for assertiveness and influence. Her specialties include better managing your emotions at work. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at CUNY Hunter College in NYC. She writes about psychology and careers for Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, and more. Click here and grab the FREE COURSE to go from insecure to unstoppable confidence 5 DAYS TO FREEDOM FROM SELF-DOUBT..


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APA Reference
Wilding, M. (2018). 5 Personality Traits Happy People Share, According to Science. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 12, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-personality-traits-happy-people-share-according-to-science/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Aug 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.