Mon, September 13, 2004
HAVING A sunny, cheerful disposition has a much bigger impact on an individual's life satisfaction than good looks or a great job, new research says. Past research has shown that personality traits such as extroversion and neuroticism are the strongest predictors of happiness, but this new research goes one step further.
University of Toronto (Mississauga campus) psychology professor Dr. Ulrich Schimmack said having a cheerful disposition is far more important in life satisfaction than being successful, a leader, a sensation-seeking risk taker or the life of the party.
The study also shows that having anxiety is not as important influence on life satisfaction as being depressed and having no meaning in your life.
"We looked at factors within the person, rather than actual life circumstances, appearance or income and found that if you're cheerful, laugh easily, and joke around a lot, it's a main predictor of life satisfaction," Schimmack said.
GROUP OF DOWNERS
"People who scored higher on the neuroticism trait experienced negative emotions like fear, anger, sadness, anxiety and guilt. These traits go together, and if you're depressed with one of these traits you're more likely to have others.
"However, we found that if you're often anxious, or angry, it does not lead to depression. Anxiety is something that is stressful, and once it's resolved, it doesn't seem to impact your life satisfaction," Schimmack said.
The research is published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology.