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Does Personality Affect your Happiness?

Image from MedicalXpress.com. 

I've seen fascinating research discussing what types of personality traits tend to lead to happier people. 

In general, research suggests that extroverted people are happier than introverted people. This makes sense as it has been found that extroverted people are more likely to surround themselves with people, which we know is recommended to depressed people to help improve mood. Isolated people tend to be more depressed than more social people, I've seen in my experience working with the mentally ill. Other studies attribute happiness with practicing optimism in your day to day life.

But it's not so simple as extrovert = happy person and introvert = sad person. Far from it! In this 2011 study, researchers found that people with what they called "self-directedness," which is a combination of:

Other factors that contributed to happiness were cooperativeness, and also self-transcendence (personal growth and self-actualization). 

Can these personality traits be developed? The research is not clear on this point, but I believe it can. Having self-directedness, self-transcendence and cooperation is something we can all learn to master, no matter our personality tendencies. 

One way that can help is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. (I wrote more about what CBT is here.)

Another way I forsee in developing these qualities would be through the development of spirituality. I regularly see patients in my practice who have been able to develop these qualities to help them be more happy people. That is why I regularly engage my patients in CBT and also have discussions of spirituality to those patients who are open to it. Many have been able develop these personality traits and others that have helped them improve their perceptions of happiness.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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