Could having hope, zest and self-regulation help you lead a healthier and more fulfilling life? A new scientific study says yes.
Researchers analysed over 60,000 respondents from 159 countries and found that character strengths and personality traits are favourably associated with positive health-related quality of life outcomes, health behaviors, purpose, and lead to lower disease risk. These traits included curiosity, perspective, spirituality, humility and appreciation of beauty.
Over 24 personality traits were studied, and the authors found that forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, hope, love, perseverance, prudence, emotional self-regulation, and zest were favourably associated with healthier outcomes, such as living a longer and more fulfilled life. Humour was associated with an increased probability of insufficient rest or sleep and teamwork, with a decreased risk of feeling sad, blue, and depressed.
Above all, researchers noted that zest was the character strength that emerged most often in relation to positive health outcomes. Described as “an enthusiasm and energy toward life”, and past studies have linked this trait to a reduced risk of depression and to positive health habits like healthy eating.
“Our findings suggested that maintaining a well-rounded health lifestyle coincides with energy and enthusiasm for life and health (zest), an attitude of discipline and resistance to temptations (self-regulation), feeling and expressing a sense of thankfulness in life and to others (gratitude), and optimistic thinking and confidence that goals can be reached (hope),” author Dorota Weziak-Bialowolska said of the findings. “These might be viewed as primary character strengths for health outcomes and behaviors.”
If there was a reason to be cheerful, that’s certainly it.