10 positive character traits that lead to happiness

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It’s no accident that happy people are the way they are.

They have a collection of character traits that help them to feel more contented, carefree, and cheery every day.

So what is it that they embody which leads to happiness?

Let’s take a look.

1) Patient

I’m not proud to admit it:

I’m not a very patient person.

And you know what?

It robs me of my peace of mind on far too many occasions.

When you are impatient you quite literally irritate yourself through your own expectations.

When someone or something doesn’t quite fit your timetable, your assumptions, or your desires — you get annoyed.

It’s easy to be happy when everything is going according to your plan.

But less so when it doesn’t.

If you can accept the daily little irritations and learn to brush them off, you’re going to enjoy life more.

Being patient can help to improve your relationships, decrease your stress levels, make you more rational, and help you to be more resilient — which as we’ll see next is vital for happiness too.

2) Resilient

Life is a journey, and that journey can get tough at times.

That’s why we need to be able to bounce back.

Otherwise, when we get knocked down we might not want to get back up again.

Without resilience, we cannot keep going.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that research has shown that resilience is positively related to happiness.

Cultivating resilience is what helps us handle the stresses of life.

To a certain extent happiness and peace comes from the absence of negative emotions.

And resilience helps us cope with those less desirable feelings that are unavoidable at times.

The more resilient you are, the likelihood is that the more adaptable you will become.

Life is full of change, whether we like it or not. All we can do is learn to deal with them in a healthy way.

When we do, we’re no longer at the mercy of life. We learn to roll with the punches far better.

3) Sense of humor

Personally, I love to make a joke or two during my darkest times.

Hey, you know what they say, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

I’m sure we’re all aware by now:

Laughter truly is the best medicine.

And science has proven it.

Studies show that it really does help to lighten our load in difficult situations and serves as a coping mechanism.

It helps to lower stress levels and is associated with an overall better quality of life.

When we laugh, we release endorphins which are the body’s natural feel-good hormones.

Endorphins not only improve your feeling of well-being, but they’re even capable of relieving pain.

Laughing has a magical effect that can help to diffuse anger, reduce resentment, and allow you to let go of tension.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why experts found that people with a strong sense of humor actually live longer.

4) Forgiving

Baggage weighs us down.

How can we ever be happy if we insist on carrying around every perceived grievance?

Forgiveness is what lightens the load. The alternative is bitterness. And as the saying wisely goes:

‘Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.’

And that is the funny thing about resentment —it only ever harms us.

Prolonged anger puts you into constant fight-or-flight mode, which is seriously bad for your health.

In fact, it can change your heart rate, increase your blood pressure and affect your immune response.

The most forgiving among us free themselves from the disappointment, hurt, and frustration of carrying around resentment.

5) Humble

How is humility linked to happiness?

Well, for one thing, it keeps our ego in check. And let’s face it, the ego can cause us plenty of distress.

In her book ‘Humility’ scientist Pelin Kesebir refers to it as the fertile soil in which happiness grows.

“If the ego’s hopes and fears, desires and aversions reign supreme, this corrupts a person’s ability to see things as they are…In contrast, humble people are less under the sway of their ego, which affords them a less distorted look at reality and hence fewer unwelcome clashes with it.”

Humility creates a healthier way of seeing ourselves and the world.

It allows us to be exactly who we are. We don’t need to be superhuman. We can accept and acknowledge our flaws and strengths.

Neither do we unfairly judge others, or see ourselves as better or worse.

And as we’ll see next, tolerance is yet another positive trait that can pave the way to greater happiness.

Down-to-earth people tend to also be very humble people. If you want to be more humble and down-to-earth, then check out our below video on 12 down-to-earth personality traits that we can all learn from. 

6) Tolerant

There are almost 8 billion people on the planet, so it’s pretty clear we’re not going to like everybody.

Diversity is what gives the world its richness. But without tolerance, it’s also a breeding ground for conflict.

The more you can live and let live, the less friction you’re going to feel.

Think about it:

Being tolerant creates a more fair, just, and respectful society.

You’re far more likely to avoid causing others harm.

Unless you’re planning on shutting yourself off in a cave for the rest of your life, then you’re bound to be happier if you can live with people peacefully.

Tolerance doesn’t mean we have to accept people’s points of view when they clash with our own.

But it does mean that we respect them as human beings.

7) Kind

I’m guessing that it comes as no surprise that kindness has made it to our list of positive character traits that lead to happiness.

Time and time again research has shown that kindness makes you happy.

It does so in a variety of ways:

  • It boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels (aka your happy hormones).
  • It increases so-called “eudaimonic happiness” which gives you a sense of meaning and purpose.
  • It boosts self-esteem.

Essentially there are a wide range of potential pluses that spring from kindness — as laid out by the research of Elizabeth Midlarsky in Berkley University Greater Good Magazine:

“Being kind may make us feel better about ourselves as a person or about the meaning of our lives, confirm our self-competence, distract us from our own troubles and stressors, give us a warm-glow feeling, or help us be more socially connected with others. All of these could potentially improve our well-being—reducing our stress, improving our mood, or providing community—and they could hold more importance at different stages of life, too.”

8) Self-Aware

 I like to think of self-awareness as the secret sauce to happiness.

After all, if you don’t understand or know yourself, it’s very challenging to grow.

Being self-aware is what helps you to see the truth about yourself.

In turn, this helps you hold yourself accountable for your own life— including your own happiness.

Without self-awareness, it’s easy to be kept captive by the flaws and failings that could be holding you back in life.

The reality is that so many of us create our own misery.

We do it through the framework we choose to see the world.

We do it with our own negative self-talk and inner critic.

We do it through the stories we weave in our minds about ourselves, our lives, and the world around us.

Self-awareness gives you the power to break through all of that and find a happier you.

Bottom line:

Self-awareness brings with it the gift of self-development.

9) Optimistic

I’ve just mentioned how the framework in which we choose to see the world can dictate how happy we are.

Optimism helps us to be more successful and healthier, as well as happier. 

Studies have even shown that optimistic people live longer than cynics. In fact,  one noted that optimists have on average a life span between 11 and 15 percent longer.

Being optimistic comes with some serious happiness-endorsing upsides, that’s for sure:

  • Better health — including a better diet, being less likely to smoke, having a stronger heart, and being more physically active.
  • Better at dealing with stress — using adaptive coping strategies that tackle problems head-on.
  • Better relationships.
  • Better work success — with more job offers and promotions.

Optimists use their sunnier outlook to create a happier life.

10) Vulnerable

 Let’s start by making something clear:

Because the word vulnerable can have pretty negative connotations.

In some contexts, it clearly means being in a precarious or threatening situation.

But that’s not what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about being able to show vulnerability, which is a real strength.


We cannot be happy without authenticity —and vulnerability is the key to being authentic.

When we overly protect ourselves, we become guarded. We create armor around us.

But that can prevent us from being our true selves.

Being vulnerable is what helps us build trust, intimacy, and closeness with others —giving us stronger relationships.

It also free’s us from the insincerity of living a lie or people pleasing.

It can even help us get to grips with our own emotions, helping us to work through them far better.

In the words of vulnerability researcher Brene Brown:

“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”

This is exactly why this trait is so vital to finding true happiness.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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