Nothing guarantees us happiness. There is no such thing as a 100% guarantee, but cultivating some personality traits could help us feel happier and more fulfilled throughout life by allowing us to adopt the right attitude, the one that helps us “put a good face on” evil time.
The key to happiness lies in emotional self-management
Personality is one of the strongest indicators of the overall and specific satisfaction we experience in life. Psychologists from Tilburg University wondered if certain personality traits determine the happiness we experience as we move forward on the calendar.
To do this, they recruited almost a thousand people between the ages of 16 and 95. They followed them for 11 years analyzing how their personality changed and the level of happiness and satisfaction with life. Thus they discovered that emotional stability is the trait that can best predict happiness at any moment in life.
What is emotional stability?
Emotional stability is the ability to manage emotions in a positive way, so that they do not affect your day-to-day life and performance, maintaining mental balance even in adversity. In practice, it means preventing strong emotions, from anger to euphoria, from taking over.
The emotionally stable person experiences negative feelings and affects, but is able to manage them without being overwhelmed and avoids to make bad decisions. He can face the most complicated situations in a more satisfactory and balanced way.
Emotional stability implies staying calm, not losing temper or patience, so that the person is not limited to reacting to problems, but can decide how to act while maintaining equanimity.
Why emotional stability is key to happiness?
Emotional stability is the opposite of neuroticism, which implies not only a state of emotional instability but also insecurity, which is why it is often accompanied by a high level of anxiety, as well as a continuous state of worry and tension.
Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that staying positive and properly managing emotions allows us to manage stressful and adverse situations more effectively, which will end up increasing our sense of well-being and happiness.
In fact, emotional stability is essential when facing events. People with a tendency to neuroticism tend to interpret situations negatively, focus on the bad and think about the catastrophes that can occur, which is why they end up generating a higher level of stress, anxiety or frustration or may even remain paralyzed, without mobilizing the resources needed to solve the problem. This obviously sharpens the impact of negative situations and extends them, which ends up affecting well-being and closes the path to happiness.
Instead, emotional stability provides a person with a greater ability to deal with negative situations. It helps him to see the positive aspects or the possible advantages, in addition to motivating him to act to get out of the problem and achieve change. Therefore, it is a characteristic that helps us stay strong in the midst of the storm and accelerates its course as much as possible. Not only does it protect our mental health, but it helps us feel happier and more satisfied with life.
Fortunately, another curious finding from the research is that emotional stability increases throughout life. That means we always have time left. We can learn to manage our feelings in a more adaptive way to achieve that happiness that seems so elusive, simply because we are looking in the wrong place.
Olaru, G., van Scheppingen, M. A., Bleidorn, W., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2023). The link between personality, global, and domain-specific satisfaction across the adult lifespan. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.