The Simple Mindset That Makes Everyone Happier, All Around The World

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Despite deep cultural differences between nations, there is one attitude that makes all humans happy.

Acting like an extrovert — even if you are an introvert — makes people all around the world feel happier, recent research suggests.

The findings come from surveys of hundreds of people in the US, Venezuela, the Philippines, China and Japan (Ching et al., 2014).

Across the board, people reported that they felt more positive emotions in daily situations where they either acted or felt more extroverted.

The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, also found that people tended to behave in a more upbeat way when they felt most free.

This is the first study to show the positive effects of extroverted behaviours in countries with more group-oriented and less individualistic cultures, like those in South America and Asia.

Professor Timothy Church, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Cross-cultural psychologists like to talk about psychic unity.

Despite all of our cultural differences, the way personality is organized seems to be pretty comparable across cultural groups.

There is evidence to show that 40 to 50 percent of the variation in personality traits has a genetic basis.”

The findings complement an earlier experiment which looked at the effects of extroverted behaviours, such as being talkative, adventurous and having high energy levels (Fleeson et al., 2002).

Participants in the study were told to act in an outgoing way for 10 minutes and then report how it made them feel.

Even amongst introverts — people who typically prefer solitary activities — acting in an extroverted way gave them a boost of happiness.

Professor William Fleeson, who led the earlier study, said:

“We tend to look at the external world for being responsible for our happiness — good things happen to us and then we get happy.

What’s exciting about this is that it brings attention to the role we have in our own happiness.

All you have to do is act extraverted and you can get a happiness boost.”

So, whether you’re an introvert, extravert or ambivert, try smiling at a stranger or calling an old friend and feeling the difference.

If you need further encouragement, read: Why You Should Talk To Strangers.

Image credit: Gareth Beynon

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Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 29 August 2014

Text: © All rights reserved.

Images: Creative Commons License