Are these life skills the key to a happier life?

Are these life skills the key to a happier life?

Living a happier, more-fulfilled life can be boiled down to having five valuable life skills, according to recent research out of the University College of London.

As a person ages, well-being is boosted by the following life skills: emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness. Researchers use the term “life skill” because they believe these traits are not fixed characteristics, but rather attributes that can be learned. They also note that one life skill is not more valuable than the next, but rather, a person’s success is based on an accumulation of these skills.

More than 8,000 men and women aged 52 or older were involved in the longitudinal, self-reporting study. Participants who had the five life skills reported better health, fewer chronic diseases, less depression, less social isolation and greater financial stability.

Of the participants who had at least four of five life skills:

  • 6% rated their health as fair or poor
  • 11% reported high levels of loneliness
  • 1% noted having significant depressive symptoms

Of those who had only a few of these five life skills:

  • 37% rated their health as fair or poor
  • 50% reported high levels of loneliness
  • 23% noted having significant depressive symptoms

Mary Diamond, infection prevention nurse practitioner at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says these life skills are vital to contending with life’s challenges.

“Every life includes its share—sometimes more than its share—of adversity. They key is to deal with the good and bad things the same way.”

Diamond says the best way to promote better health is to keep life’s setbacks from getting the best of you.

“As a cancer survivor, I’ve put these beliefs into practice and have learned that they provide me with the decided advantage of a positive attitude. Make no mistake: few things help you deal better with adversity than a positive attitude, which is the byproduct of a concentrated effort to study and develop these life skills, which help form a state of well-being.”

She believes further research will demonstrate that acquiring, developing and maintaining these life skills can be learned.

“If they are imparted, an entire population can benefit from an enhanced sense of well-being, which, as the research suggests, can lead to a longer lifespan.”

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.