Over the years, so much has been written about clinical psychology (a branch that focuses on mental disorders).
While this awareness is imperative, the mental health community has extended its reach to understand mental health in a much broader context in recent years.
Thus, numerous studies and research has been conducted around positive psychology.
Researchers have analyzed the characteristics and qualities of psychologically healthy people, focusing on values and strength of character.
However, minimal research has been conducted around the type of personality traits linked to psychological health.
In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a paper published by Wiebke Bleidorn and colleagues analyzed the personality profiles of psychologically healthy people.
The ‘Big Five’.
In the study, the researchers took the ‘Big Five’ personality traits into account; such characteristics would ultimately be linked to psychological health and having a healthy personality.
The ‘Big Five’ personality traits include:
In the study, the participants (including mental health experts and psychology students) were asked to provide recommendations around the sub-components of the ‘Big Five’ that they felt were most synonymous with positive emotions and psychological health.
The study concluded that a series of facets could get attributed to psychological health and emotional well being. These included:
- High levels of the positive emotions facet of Extraversion (reflecting that an individual experiences positive feelings)
- High levels of the straightforwardness facet Agreeableness (signifying an individual’s propensity for truthfulness and honesty in their dealings with other people)
- High levels of Openness (denoting a willingness to be open and engaging)
- Decreased levels of all facets of Neuroticism (Signalling low levels of anxiety, depressiveness, impulsion, anger and vulnerability)
Psychologically healthy individuals
The above research suggests some personality profiles get geared towards positive well-being and psychological health.
People with such personality characteristics are likely to enjoy more positive mental health and find it much easier to express emotions, control tension, and have high levels of self-esteem.
But, what about those that have a different profile?
People must remember that we are all different.
Many internal and external variables need to be considered, such as individual motivations, life histories, and genetics, which play a huge role in determining personality profiles and overall well-being.
According to Art Markman, PhD, ‘our personality characteristics reflect the tuning of our motivation’.
Thus, every individual is motivated to act in a particular way.
Markman pointed out that ‘having a set of characteristics that differ from the ideal healthy personality profile is a call-to-action for people to get brought into awareness of how some of the more negative traits may get in the way of their psychological well-being’.
Recognition of unhelpful personality characteristics that may be blocking a person’s potential is the first step to reacting differently in particular situations that may be stress-inducing.
What are the personality traits of happy people?
As well as the ‘Big Five’ personality characteristics mentioned earlier, researchers have noted several personality traits that make people happier, more fulfilled individuals.
These personality traits include:
- Life satisfaction
- Openness to feelings
- Increased social skills
- Overall positive outlook
Most experts agree that the above traits are key determining factors in making a personality profile psychologically healthy.
But, is there more to happiness and psychological health than a subset of personality traits?
Several basic elements of a healthy personality
The father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, reported that sixty percent of our happiness is down to environmental and genetic factors.
On the other hand, the remaining forty percent gets attributed to how people respond to external factors.
Research suggests several factors in happiness and having a healthy personality, such as:
- Happy people don’t try to pursue happiness: It sounds counter-intuitive. Still, research suggests that when people go after pleasure, it often results in them becoming unhappy if they do not get the results they seek. Primarily, if dissatisfied, high expectations make people sad, which leads to disappointment and misery.
- Happy people have gratitude: A psychologically healthy person is often grateful for essential things such as health, food and clean water. You’ll find that optimistic people are happy and content with what they have. Gratitude promotes more profound relaxation, less envy and reduced mental health issues in those who practice being grateful regularly.
- Happy people know what kind of income it takes to be happy: Some research around this is conflicting. However, a study conducted by Princeton University found that people who earn over seventy-five thousand dollars a year experienced increased well being and life satisfaction compared to those with lower incomes.
- Happy people exercise: It’s a fact that regular exercise increases the feel-good chemicals in our bodies, leading to increased happiness, good physical health, and healthy personality functioning in general.
Mental health issues
Such events cause differentiated emotional states that can often be challenging to manage.
Many people who experience anger or depression, for example, are more prone to engage in antisocial behavior and substance abuse, as they struggle to control cravings and curb any negative urges.
It may seem impossible for people who have endured trauma to feel comfortable around others and express emotions openly.
Thus, the disciplines of clinical psychology and personality and social psychology have a distinct overlap in thought, discipline and practice.
The most vital thing to remember is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to mental health.
Humans are mutable, changeable beings, which applies to our emotional states.
The key is to respect peoples’ differences, backgrounds and personality profiles.
Regardless of our unique characteristics, we all can change and become the best versions of ourselves no matter our personality profile.
If you would like to improve your psychological health and well being, contact one of our mental health specialists today who will help.