“Happiness”: Personal Characteristics

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And yet “emotional intelligence” significantly differentiates happy people from unhappy ones. This concept, coined and described by Peter Salowey and introduced to the general public by Daniel Goleman, is defined as the ability to correctly perceive and take account of other people’s feelings.

 

It is also the ability clearly and quickly to identify our own emotions.
According to K. Magnus and his colleagues, happiness goes hand in hand with the capacity to assert oneself with extroversion and empathy—happy people are generally open to the world.


They believe that an individual can exert control over herself and her life, while unhappy people tend to believe themselves to be destiny’s playthings. It would seem that the more an individual is capable of controlling her environment, the happier she is.

 

It is interesting to note that in everyday life, extroverts experience more positive events than introverts, and neurotics have more negative experiences than stable people.

 

A person may be on a “streak” of bad luck or feel herself to be a magnet for problems, but it is important to keep in mind that it is ultimately our own disposition—extroverted or neurotic, optimistic or pessimistic, self-centered or altruistic—that impels us into the same situation again and again.

 

An open-minded person is more skilled at battling through difficult circumstances, whereas someone who is ill at ease feels increased anxiety that is usually reflected in affective and familial issues and social failure.

 

A spiritual dimension, whether religious or not, helps us to set goals in life and promotes human values, charity, generosity, and openness—all factors that bring us closer to happiness than to misery.

 

It helps us to spurn the cynical idea that there is no direction to follow, that life is nothing but a self-centered struggle under the battle cry “Every man for himself.”


It is easy to imagine a priori how health might have a powerful influence on happiness and how hard it would be to be happy if we were stricken by a serious illness and confined to a hospital. But that turns out not to be the case, and even in such circumstances we soon return to the level of happiness we enjoyed before falling sick. Studies of cancer patients have found that their happiness quotient is barely lower than that of the rest of the population.

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