You may know that personality, to some degree, is heritable. In fact, 50-60% of your personality comes down to your genetic makeup. But did you also know that your level of happiness too is heritable, stable and hard to change? Some days, you may feel happier than others, yet your base-level of happiness is reasonably fixed. And it is connected to your personality traits. But what can we do to change our level of happiness?
In this episode of What Monkeys Do, I have invited Richard Lucas to talk about personality, happiness and why some people are happier than others. Richard is a leading professor in personality psychology and is internationally recognized for his research on happiness and well-being. Listen along to find out what you can do to increase your happiness.
Richard will talk about
- What are personality and happiness, and how do the two relate?
- Do some personality traits correlate with higher or lower levels of happiness?
- Can money, in fact, buy happiness?
- 3 ways to increase your level of happiness
Are you too busy? Here are the key points
#1 Your level of happiness is linked with your personality. Although it may change slightly from day to day, our personality as a whole is quite stable over time. The most tested and valid way to measure personality is the big five: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. And your score on those big five correlates with your level of happiness. Especially extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism are important measures in this regard.
#2 Your level of happiness is rather heritable. About 50% of our personality is genetic. We know this from extensive twin studies where identical twins separated at birth are compared. I was not surprised that our level of personality was heritable. However, I was very surprised to learn that our level of happiness too was highly heritable. About 40-50% of our level of happiness is genetic.
#3 You can influence your happiness. Although Richard is not suggesting that it’s easy to change your level of happiness, he does suggest three things: 1) therapy does work, 2) manage your social relations and 3) engage in meaningful activities.
Richard has studied personality and happiness for many years, and he is right; We need to know more about what makes us happy. Listen to the full episode on your preferred platform to get the full picture.
Curious for more? Here are the links I promised
- Richard on Twitter
- The Great Myth of Personality by M. Brent Donnellan and Richard Lucas
- Stability of Happiness by Kennon M. Sheldon and Richard Lucas
- Big Five personality traits
- The Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
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