A Crucial Character Trait for Happiness

A Crucial Character Trait for Happiness

There’s no ONE way to create happiness.

And there’s no ONE personality type that brings more happiness.

Happiness, ultimately, is about finding what works for you; and what works for you may well be different to what works for me.

But this interesting article focuses on a particular trait that may well be worth cultivating for more happiness. Read on …

via the Atlantic by Arthur C Brooks

One of my friends, more so than anyone else I know, has a remarkable power to make the people around him happy. He does this not through beer or flattery, but simply through the power of his personality. He is extroverted, conscientious, agreeable—all the traits that psychologists predict will attract a lot of friends.

But there’s one personality characteristic of his that I find especially winning: his enthusiasm. He is excited about his work and fascinated by mine. He speaks ebulliently about his family but also about the economy and politics. He has, as the 19th-century philosopher William James put it, “zest [for] the common objects of life.”

My friend is also an unusually happy person, which I had always thought explained his enthusiasm. But I had it backwards. In truth, enthusiasm is one of the personality traits that appear to drive happiness the most. In fact, to get happier, each of us can increase our own zest for the common objects of our lives. And it isn’t all that hard to do.

Research on personality goes back millennia, to ancient Greece at least. In the fourth century B.C., Hippocrates theorized that our characters are made up of four temperaments: choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic. These, he posited, were due to a predominance of one of the four humors, or fluids, in one’s body: yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm.

Although medical knowledge has overtaken this approach—for example, black bile doesn’t even exist—Hippocrates foreshadowed a good deal of our modern thinking on personality. During the 20th century, scholars developed a personality typology that we still use today. In 1921, Carl Jung distinguished between introverts and extroverts; in 1949, the psychologist Donald Fiske expanded on that work when he identified five major personality factors. Later research further refined the features of these traits and named them openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Over the past 70 years, the Big Five have been used to investigate and explain many social phenomena. For example, as I have written, extroverts tend to make friends easily, but introverts tend to form deeper bonds. When people high in neuroticism who have money make more money, many of them enjoy it less than those lower in neuroticism. People who are more extroverted and conscientious tend toward conservatism, whereas those who are more open to new experiences typically espouse more liberal views.

Two traits out of the Big Five seem to be especially important for happiness: In 2018, psychologists confirmed that high extroversion and low neuroticism seemed to be the recipe for well-being. More specifically, the correlations hinged on one aspect of extroversion and one aspect of neuroticism—enthusiasm and withdrawal, respectively…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE