Mental Well-being: the six traits of happy and healthy people (and how to develop them)

What determines our mental wellbeing? Health? Money? Love? Yes and no. According to some researchers there are six key conditions shared by happy people that can be considered as best practice in order to experience what real wellbeing is.

For the past 20 years, Corol D. Ryff, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, has tried to understand together with her team of researchers which habits are able to concretely increase the psychological well-being and happiness of people. The results achieved by the research team are extremely interesting.

1. Cultivate your independence

Do you often worry about what others think of you? Are you continually afraid to disappoint the expectations of your family members or others? Well, trying always to make others happy first is the perfect recipe for unhappiness.

The first fundamental trait that people who enjoy psychological well-being share is independence of thought and action. Learn to think with your head. Do not care too much about other people’s judgments and act in accordance with your own values. Live your life and not the one others have designed for you.

2. Be the master of your environment

Having the ability to control the surrounding environment is the second factor that contributes to our psychological well-being. But what does “control of our environment” mean?

With this expression Prof. Ryff indicates the ability to safely dominate situations, whether related to our work or personal context. In short, we are happy and satisfied with ourselves when we are able to achieve concrete results in our career and in our lives.

3. Work daily on your personal growth

Do you know what happens to a muscle which is not used? It atrophies.

That is a bit the same thing that can happen to our life: if we do not “use” it, it atrophies.

Living means growing, it means working continuously on ourselves, it means facing new experiences. The moment we stop doing so, our psychological well-being suffers. Whatever your age, whatever your past, whatever your origins, today it can be the beginning of your personal growth path, a path towards a continuous improvement.

4. Build quality relationships with others

As mentioned above, the first fundamental trait of happy people is independence (of thought and action). Being independent, however, does not mean being antisocial, on the contrary.

We must learn to be complete individuals, at ease with others.

For our happiness, it is therefore important to invest in the creation of relationships of quality, stable and lasting, both in terms of friendship and love. In short: trust, respect, affection, intimacy, empathy and love are fundamental ingredients for our psychological well-being.

5. Find Your Life Purpose

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why.” Mark Twain.

If we do not have a direction to go in, we will hardly find happiness in our lives. Seeking our purpose in life must therefore be a top priority for us. But it is precisely on this research that many people are confused. Actually, it is not that a mysterious messenger one day will knock at your door to finally reveal to your life purpose. On the contrary, you have to go and find it. It is only by offering your brain new stimuli and new experiences that one day you will be able to join the dots and find your way.

6. Learn to accept yourself

Last but not least: learn to accept yourself. There can be no psychological well-being without self-acceptance. Accepting yourself means learning to love both your qualities and defects. It means making peace with your past.