Focus on Self-Improvement Raises Well-Being

by Chris Curley on June 18, 2012

Working to improve your positive character attributes can boost your happiness and well-being, ScienceDaily reported June 14.

People who spent time bettering qualities like curiosity, gratitude, optimism, sense of humor, and enthusiasm saw significant increases in life satisfaction after 10 weeks compared to those who didn’t engage in any active self-improvement or those who focused on improving more abstract traits like “appreciation of beauty” and “love of learning,” researchers from the University of Zurich find.

“Anyone who trained one or more strengths reported an increase in their sense of wellbeing,” says study author Willibald Ruch, a professor of personality psychology and diagnostics. “This manifested itself in the fact that these participants were more cheerful or more often in a good mood.”

Training yourself to “be better” is mostly a matter of being mindful so you can better control and direct your feelings, the study shows. Participants also did some small exercises to enhance attributes like gratitude, such as writing thank-you letters to important people in their lives.

The research was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

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