How to Be Happier: 5 Key Strengths

Armen Hareyan's picture

Why do some people always seem happy, and others not? Is it really a question of life circumstances? Are they happy because their life is better, because they have more luck, and they just don't have as many worries and upsets?

Or is it more a question of disposition, their nature, and character? Could it be that some people are genetically wired to be happy no matter what?

People who are highly satisfied with their lives are less likely to have psychological or social problems, less likely to get sick or be stressed out, and more likely to do well at work.

Hard-wired for Happiness?

Current research reveals that mood and temperament have a large genetic component. In a 1996 study, University of Minnesota psychologists David Lykken and Auke Tellegen surveyed 732 pairs of identical twins and found them closely matched for adult happiness, regardless of whether they'd grown up together or apart. Such findings suggest that while we all experience ups and downs, our moods revolve around the emotional baselines or "set points" we're born with.

But even if we have an inherited range of happiness, are there some tools that we can learn in order to become happier and more satisfied with life?

Scientists have been studying what makes people happy for several decades now, however, the internet has made possible even more studies, as people all over the world can access and complete surveys. Many surveys can be found for free at


Positive psychology researchers Dr. Nansook Park, Dr. Christopher Peterson and Dr. Martin Seligman have been studying 24 character strengths in depth, and are looking at the role of individual strengths in creating subjective feelings of happiness.

Five Key Strengths

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A study with more than 4000 participants revealed that five key strengths-gratitude, optimism, zest, curiosity, and the ability to love and be loved- are more closely and consistently related to life satisfaction than the other strengths.

A very compelling reason to give special attention to these five key strengths is that each strength on the list is, by definition, mutable and can be learned. We can all become more grateful, optimistic, zestful, curious, and loving if we are willing to make a concerted effort to do so.

Coaching for Happiness

Online happiness surveys can create self-awareness and enhance your ability to experience more happiness and life satisfaction. Even more effective is using these tools with a professional coach. Your coach can help you to develop gratitude, and awareness of strengths. With your coach, you can discover ways to effectively use your strengths in new ways.

These three keys are essential tools in achieving lasting happiness, and ultimately greater health and life success.