Community Add OnsFourteen Fundamentals

Fundamental Nine: Work On a Healthy Personality

Created By: MICHAEL W. FORDYCE, Ph.D
Answers the question – What are the top 14 traits of happy people?

The research findings on happiness have shown quite conclusively that happiness and mental health are strongly related and that happy people typically get top ratings in healthy adjustment (132, 202, 201, 59, 63, 117, 104, 108, 123, 55, 147).

Thus, Fundamental Nine 9 is “Work On A Healthy Personality.”

The basic idea behind this Fundamental, naturally enough, is that you enhance your mental health and grow toward better adjustment, your happiness will increase proportionately.

THE HAPPINESS / MENTAL-HEALTH CONNECTION

One of the obvious problems in achieving personal happiness, as we’ve alluded to before, is that happiness (as a goal) is rarely explicit — it is usually implicit. We all pay great lip service to happiness. When pressed, most of us acknowledge that it’s our main goal in life. But, generally, we pay it little mind. We assume, somewhere in the back recesses of our mind, that happiness will come as the result of our successful attention to the ordinary concerns of our lives.

Mental health psychologists have tended to treat happiness in much the same way.

Implicitly, of course, happiness can be assumed to be the eventual result of every psychological intervention. Hardly any psychologist would deny, if asked to consider it, that greater happiness is the ultimate goal of all their research and therapeutic efforts. Yet, in fact, this goal is rarely mentioned explicitly.

Thus, in practice and in theory, psychologists treat happiness much as we all do. We work to develop treatments for emotional disorders, we develop theories on better marital communication, we study the intellectual development of children, we experiment with new therapeutic techniques for substance abuse, and so on — all assuming that greater human happiness will be the result. But this assumption is hardly ever stated specifically — it’s simply just taken for granted!

Particularly when it comes to mental health theory, the mention of “happiness” is conspicuously absent. Theorists in this area have identified dozens of characteristics they consider critical to optimal mental health, but few identify happiness to be among them. Neither do any major theorists specifically suggest that happiness is the main result of achieved mental health. Still, throughout the writings of the major mental health theorists, passing references to happiness often occur in their discussion of the healthy personality, but the connection between happiness and mental health is merely implied; never clearly drawn.

Ironically, it has only been since scientific research into the nature of human happiness has emerged that the connection between happiness and mental health has become clear. As the research amassed, the relationship between a high degree of mental health and a high degree of happiness grew stronger and stronger. So much so, that happiness is beginning to be seen as not just peripheral to mental health, but an integral part of it. Indeed, the research is so strong in this regard, that many psychologists are now coming to see that happiness is one of the most basic of all mental health characteristics. Indeed, it may be the primary characteristic!

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