We all want more well-being in our lives. But which traits are most likely to be associated with well-being? This is an important question because it can help inform our decision to cultivate some aspects of our being over others, and can even inform culture-wide interventions to increase societal levels of well-being.
The 5 Personal Paths to Well-Being
Each of these 5 personality traits were independently related to a wide range of well-being measures. In other words, these are 5 different personal paths to well-being. If you score high in any of these 5 personality aspects, you are probabilistically more likely to have high well-being across multiple aspects of your life.
People who score high in enthusiasm are friendly, sociable, emotionally expressive, and tend to have lots of fun in life. Enthusiasm independently predicted life satisfaction, positive emotions, less negative emotions, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations, self-acceptance, purpose in life, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and achievement.
2. Low Withdrawal
People who score high in withdrawal are easily discouraged and overwhelmed, and tend to ruminate and be highly self-conscious. As a result, they are susceptible to depression and anxiety. Lower levels of withdrawal predicted greater life satisfaction, positive emotions, and less negative emotions. Lower levels of withdrawal also predicted greater autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relationships, self-acceptance, meaning and purpose, relationships, and achievement.
People who are industrious are achievement-oriented, self-disciplined, efficient, purposeful, and competent. Industriousness is strongly correlated with “grit“- passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Industriousness was correlated with life satisfaction, positive emotions, less negative emotions, and more autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relationships, self-acceptance, meaning and purpose, engagement, and achievement.
People who are compassionate feel and care about others’ emotions and well-being. Compassion was correlated with more positive emotions, and more environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relationships, self-acceptance, meaning and purpose, engagement, and achievement.
5. Intellectual Curiosity
People who score high in intellectual curiosity are open to new ideas, enjoy thinking deeply and complexly, and tend to reflect a lot on their experiences. Intellectual curiosity predicted autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, self-acceptance, purpose, and accomplishment. Interestingly, intellectual curiosity was not predictive of the more ’emotional’ variables, such as life satisfaction, positive and negative emotions, positive relationships, and engagement with life.
Two More Limited Predictors of Well-Being
While the 5 traits above were the clear winners when it came to predicting a large swath of well-being, these two traits were still predictive of certain aspects of well-being.
– Scott Barry Kaufman
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