When it comes to living the good life, everyone has a theory. It just so happens, though, that some of those theories are better backed by research and science.
And a few personality traits in particular are really well backed by research when it comes to living the good life.
For instance, extroversion tends to correlate quite highly with life satisfaction, and neuroticism tends to score quite poorly (it’s highly correlated inversely with life satisfaction).
And these findings are connected to what many life satisfaction researchers refer to as the Big Five: five personality traits that are far more correlated with life satisfaction than any other traits.
Let’s look more closely at the Big Five, redefined to reflect that nuance:
Compassion: This replaces agreeableness in the old scale, and refers to little acts of kindness scattered regularly throughout our lives, both for people close to us and for strangers. Turns out treating others’ well reflects well on our own life satisfaction.
Enthusiasm: Think of this as that puppy factor, the people in your life who resemble golden retrievers. They “have a lot of fun” and “laugh a lot” and that enthusiasm falls under what used to be extroversion in the old scale. This personality trait leads to solid friendships, and warm personalities, which help lead to happier lives.
Industriousness: In other words, these are the people who get shit done. You know who you are, even if others might not: This bit of conscientiousness means you plan ahead, work really hard, and finish what you start. You don’t get distracted, and you don’t waste time. You simply make your to-do lists and check things off as you do them.
Intellectual curiosity: This replaces openness in the old scale, and refers both to a willingness to think outside the box and question anything and everything. These people love complex problems, difficult books, and meandering philosophical conversations, and as a result, are quick learners and thinkers, with rich vocabularies and the capacity to handle high volumes of information at once. Curiosity, it turns out, helps predict happiness.
On the flip side, there appear to be three personality traits that don’t affect life satisfaction in either direction: politeness (seems strange, but manners don’t seem to affect life satisfaction), neatness (a boon to messy people worldwide), and volatility or moodiness.
As Kaufman notes, “Interestingly, once we took into account withdrawal … volatility was not predictive of any any measure of well-being. Therefore, if you tend to be a really moody, impulsive person, as long as that doesn’t also make you anxious and fearful, then you are not lowering your probabilities of having higher well-being!”
Clearly, Kaufman is enthusiastic about the study results—looks like he has some pretty good life satisfaction to us!
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.