While it’s impossible to pin down the key to true happiness—and many would claim it’s more about the journey than the destination anyway—there are some qualities that self-described happy people tend to share. So what are they? Researchers have narrowed down a few of the personality traits shared by those who say they feel completely content with their lives, and they actually make a lot of sense.
In a study published in the Journal of Personality, psychologists Jessie Sun, Scott Barry Kaufman, and Luke D. Smillie reveal that there are five unique “paths to personal well-being” via these approaches:
- Enthusiasm No one likes being around a spoilsport, but being easily excited by the little things in life has an even greater advantage: it makes you happier. If you know how to laugh, have fun, and let your hair down sometimes, you’re way more likely to experience all the joy that life has to offer.
- Industriousness Do you work hard? Hustle to get ahead and achieve both big and small goals? Those who are more productive and who take pride in their work tend to have higher levels of happiness as they feel more accomplished and fulfilled.
- Compassion We know that being kind and empathetic towards others is an important part of being a good person, but caring for people, animals, and the planet—and doing things to help them when needed—allows you to practice gratitude and giving back, both of which will increase your happiness tenfold.
- Low withdrawal By this we mean people who know how to roll with the punches. If you’re able to deal with adversity well and rebound from tough times by taking it all in your stride, you’re likely to be happier. Of course, those with mental illness may not be able to help struggling with issues like anxiety and depression, but science does prove that those people who are “lower in neuroticism” feel better overall.
- Intellectual curiosity If you love learning and tend to soak up new pieces of knowledge like a sponge in water, you’re probably a lot happier. A desire to think deeply, push yourself to be more open-minded, and who love solving seemingly unsolvable problems fare better, which makes a lot of sense.
So, do these sound like you?