The five skills you need for happiness

The cultivation of five key skills can lead to a happier, more fulfilled life, says study.

Happy life

Happy life

If there’s one thing to aim for in life, surely it should be happiness.

And the more research that’s conducted on the subject, the more the consensus seems to be that it’s not wealth, or other material items that provide genuine happiness in this world.

Quelle surprise, you might think, but if the root of all happiness doesn’t start with more money and a better quality of life, then where does it begin?

Researchers from University College London (UCL) found that five key skills constitute a happy life, and they were control, optimism, emotional stability, determination and conscientiousness.

To draw their conclusions, researchers looked at data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a unique resource of information on the health, social, wellbeing and economic circumstances of over 8,000 people in their 50s and 60s.

What they found was that those who had at least four out of the five skills were on the whole happier, less prone to mental or physical illness, and part of a large circle of friends.

In contrast, those that listed two or less of those skills were more likely to feel lonely, depressed and were more prone to chronic disease.

People who listed four or five of the assets also had lower cholesterol and were faster walkers (a factor that can apparently predict lifespan).

“We were surprised by the range of processes – economic, social, psychological, biological, and health and disability related – that seem to be related to these life skills,” said Professor Andrew Steptoe of the department of Epidemiology and Public Health, who co-led the research.

Co-author Professor Jane Wardle, also commented that while it’s important to learn persistence, conscientiousness, and control in childhood, these skill could still be cultivated in later life to improve the wellbeing of older adults.

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