Researchers at the National Institute on Aging discovered that well-being is strongly influenced by enduring qualities and traits of the individual. In a 10-year study, they found that regardless of whether their marital status, job, or residence had changed, people with a happy disposition in 1973 were still happy in 1983. The good news here is, given the right disposition, people can still find happiness even in the face of difficulty.
Here are four important traits of happy people:
1. Self-esteem. Happy people feel good about themselves. In some studies in well-being conducted in the University of Michigan in the 1980s, it is established that the best predictor of life satisfaction is not satisfaction with family life, friendship, or income, but satisfaction with oneself. People who accept themselves feel good about life. This is why a lot of self-help books are printed and distributed. They help us see our good points and be positive. We must avoid self-pity and negative feelings. To find love, we must first love ourselves.
A healthy self-esteem is also both positive and realistic. Because it is based on the genuine achievement of realistic ideals, and on feeling accepted for what one is, such self-esteem provides a strong foundation for enduring joy.
2. Optimism. Happy people are filled with hope. They always look at the brighter side of things. They believe that they can do almost anything if they have faith in themselves. They look at the glass of life as half-full instead of half-empty. It is also discovered that optimists enjoy greater success. Instead of seeing failure as signs of incompetence, optimists view them as suggestions of taking things at a new approach. A person who confronts life with a positive attitude to people and possibilities live with far more joy.
3. Extroversion. Happy people are outgoing. Self-assured people who walk into a room full of strangers and introduce themselves may also be more accepting of themselves. They feel that others will like them too if they like themselves. They are also more involved with other which created a bigger circle of friends, thus involving them in more rewarding social activities. They receive more affection and enjoy greater support – an important source of happiness.
4. Personal Control. Happy people believe that they choose they destiny. Researcher Angus Campbell commented that “having a strong sense of controlling one’s life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of well-being than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered”. Increasing people’s control can noticeably improve their health and morale as well. One study by Yale psychologist Judith Rodin encouraged nursing-home patients to exert more control–to make choices about their environment and to influence policy. As a result, 93 percent became more alert, active, and happy. Similar results have been observed after allowing prisoners to move chairs and control the lights and TV, and after enabling workers to participate in decision making.
We can’t expect ourselves to become more upbeat and socially confident overnight. But rather than limply resign ourselves to our current traits and emotions, we can expand ourselves, step by step. Rather than waiting until we feel like reaching out to the people around us, we can begin. If we are too frightened, modest, or indifferent, we can pretend, trusting that before long the pretense will lessen as our actions ignite a spark inside—the spark that will lead to happiness.