Recently, one of my friends described me on PersonaBubble as “a happy person”. This made me wonder: is there such thing as a happy type of person, or am I just happy because things have been turning out well for me lately?
Is personality linked to happiness?
According to psychological research, there are certain personality traits linked to happiness. For instance, people who are more extraverted and more emotionally stable tend to be happier . This might be because of differences in our thinking styles and in how we experience events. For example, if a friend forgets about a dinner date you’ve planned and doesn’t show up, a more reactive person might take offence and take it more personally than a more stable person. This interpretation is likely to affect their mood. There is also a difference between how people manage their moods. For example, extraverts tend to be happier because they make more effort to change their mood when they are sad. So an extravert and an introvert might feel just as unhappy, but the extravert is more likely to do something about it.
How much does personality matter?
Some researchers estimate that personality accounts for up to 50% of happiness day-to-day. Others estimate the role of personality to be much lower- only 25% . Given both these estimates, it is clear that there must be other factors that are more important, such as our experiences, actions, lifestyle and strategies we use to manage our moods. Personality does affect happiness, but it is by no means the most important factor.
So, how can we be happy?
Assuming that most people want to be happy in some way, there are things we can do. The field of positive psychology emphasizes the fact that we are in control of our own happiness. Yes, some of us may have a tendency to see things more positively than others. But ultimately, we have the ability to change this and change our mood. For example, experts say that being grateful for the good things in life, spreading kindness to others and exercising are some of the keys to a happier lifestyle. A BBC documentary discovered 10 steps to happiness, including “plant something and nurture it”, “have a good laugh at least once a day” and “have an hour long conversation with a loved one each week”. These little things can make a big difference.
Of course, understanding and accepting your personality may help. For instance, if you have a more reactive personality, realising that your perspective may be skewed can help lift you out of a downward spiral of negative thinking. Overall, there are people who are happier than others, but this isn’t just down to personality.
Being happy is good for us for all sorts of reasons. People who are happier get ill less often, feel healthier and are less stressed . And positive psychology gives us a positive message: we are in control of our happiness.
Why not take our test, “How happy are you?” to measure your happiness levels? And don’t forget to take our free personality test- understanding yourself is one of the steps towards creating a happier lifestyle!