Can your Myers-Briggs® personality type indicate how happy or unhappy you will be in life? Does your overall life satisfaction decline based on your personality type? Today we’re going to look at some of the research done relating type to overall happiness. But before we delve into all of this, I want to make one big disclaimer:
While Statistics Show Correlations Between Type and Happiness, Your own Happiness Might Not Match the “Norm”
I’ve known many people who contradict the correlations found in the studies relating type to happiness. You can build a happy life regardless of your personality type. This article is just going to show some of the trends and it’s also going to give you some tips for increasing your overall happiness!
According to the MBTI® Manual, a global sample of 15,824 individuals were asked to indicate, using a 4-point scale from “not at all happy” to “very happy,” their general level of happiness. The results of this survey were fascinating and showed some interesting links between personality type and overall happiness.
The Eight Happiest Myers-Briggs Personality Types
The eight personality types that ranked themselves the happiest were:
#1 – ESTJs
#2 – ENTJs
#3 – ESFJs
#4 – ESFPs
#5 – ENFJs
#6 – ENTPs
#7 – ESTPs
#8 – ENFPs
But why would these types be happier than their introverted counterparts? Well, according to a case study conducted by Larsen and Ketelaar extraverts are more responsive to rewards, which makes them happier overall.
In a 2011 study by Ryan Howell, a psychologist at San Francisco State University, it was discovered that “highly extroverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets.” In fact, in a study of over 754 undergraduate students, Howell found that extroverts were more likely to recall positive things from the past while downplaying the negatives.
Richard Depue, a professor of human development at Cornell University, also found that extraverts produce a stronger dopamine response to the memories of their rewards.
“Rewards like food, sex and social interactions as well as more abstract goals such as money or getting a degree trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, producing positive emotions and feelings of desire that motivate us to work toward obtaining those goals. In extroverts, this dopamine response to rewards is more robust so they experience more frequent activation of strong positive emotions,” – Richard Depue, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University
Another factor that might play a part in the happiness of extroverts is that for a long time Western culture has favored extroverted personalities. People who act quickly, appear friendly, sociable, and outgoing are often praised or seen as the “norm.” Introverts often feel like they have to wear an extroverted persona in order to make a positive impression or fit in. This can lead to increased anxiety or lower self-esteem for introverts as a result.
What did Isabel Briggs-Myers have to say?
Myers believed that IP types were going to be less satisfied than Extraverts and Judging types. She found that IPs tended to perceive external difficulties more fully than EJs did. According to the MBTI® Manual, “They are in the habit of using their perceiving process in the outer world. They assume that there is more to be seen than they have seen so far, that some of those things may not be pleasant or favorable, and they make a point of looking for those things.”
The Manual also says that because introverts have more interest in their inner world they tend to be more aware of internal difficulties than extraverts are.
Which Types Ranked as the Least Happy?
According to the MBTI® Manual, these types ranked themselves as the least happy:
#1 – INFPs
#2 – INTPs
#3 – INFJs
#4 – ISFPs
#5 – ISFJs
#6 – ISTPs
#7 – INTJs
#8 – ISTJs
Sadly, INFPs ranked the lowest for happiness as well as the lowest for life-satisfaction. According to the third edition of the MBTI® Manual, these types also ranked second highest in dissatisfaction with their marriages and intimate relationships.
INTPs, who ranked as the second-to least happy type, were also over-represented among males with post-traumatic stress disorder. They also ranked 15th out of the 16 types in using both cognitive and social coping resources to deal with stress.
INFJs, who ranked third-to-last, ranked highest of all 16 personality types in being dissatisfied with their marriages and intimate relationships. They also ranked highest in reporting stress associated with work, intimate relationships, and school.
ISFPs ranked highest in emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. They also ranked highest in reporting stress associated with finances and children.
All of this information can be found in the MBTI® Manual – Fourth Edition and the MBTI® Manual – Third Edition.
So What Can We Do About these Results? How Can We Be Happier?
It’s important to remember that there is no “good” or “bad” personality type. Each type has something significant to offer the world. Each type has strengths that are all their own.
What we can learn from these studies and statistics:
#1: We shouldn’t beat ourselves up (or others) for their levels of happiness. There is something clearly bigger at play here than a mere desire to be in a bad mood.
#2: We need to look for the kinds of experiences that bring us joy – and that will be different depending on our type. Our type doesn’t dictate our happiness.
#3: Introverts may be at a disadvantage in a culture that prizes extroverted behavior. This trend may be changing, however, as introversion is becoming more respected thanks to activists like Susan Cain and Jenn Granneman. Either way, it’s important for parents, employers, and school teachers to appreciate their introverted friends, employees, children, and students. Less pressure to be an extrovert will likely increase the happiness level of introverts around the world.
What Really Does Create Happiness?
There’s more to being happy than having the right four letters in your personality type! What really makes people happy? What experiences bring individuals real joy and meaning? Some things will vary for each personality type. But researchers like Ed Diener and Sonja Lyubomirsky, are helping to shine a light on what happiness really means.
Money and genetics only play a very small role.
When Ed Diener, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology, compared the people on the Forbe’s list of wealthiest Americans with the general population, he found that they were only slightly happier than average. In fact, 37% of the individuals surveyed were less happy than the average American.
Here Are Some Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Happiness:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, write down three things you are thankful for. When you wake up, write down at least two more things.
- Forgive yourself and others. Carrying around guilt, regret, and anguish will only weigh you down. You’re punishing yourself for the same failures over and over again, and that’s an exercise in futility. Learn to forgive and have compassion for yourself.
- Have goals. Maybe you have a big goal like earning six-figures in a year. Maybe your goal involves spending 30 minutes outside each day. Whatever it is, pursuing goals and having goals makes you happier.
- Meditate. Spending even 15 minutes a day meditating can regulate your mood, reduce stress, and calm your soul.
- Exercise. Being active helps to release endorphins in your brain that decrease stress and improve your overall well-being.
- Get enough sleep. When you aren’t getting enough sleep your concentration, memory, and mood all suffer.
- Spend time on meaningful relationships. Whether you meet up with a friend for coffee or do a Skype call with your parents, spending time with friends and people who care about you is medicine for the soul.
- Be altruistic. Spending money on other people and putting your time towards altruistic activities can greatly increase your happiness and life satisfaction.
- Laugh. Break out the comedies, listen to your favorite comedians, or simply find the humor in everyday situations. Laughing strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
- Spend money on experiences over things. Material goods that are non-essential only buy short-term happiness. Put your money towards experiences so that you can build up your memory bank with positive images and increase your life-long happiness as a result.
- Get help. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or mental illness your happiness can be strongly affected. Getting in touch with a trained, certified therapist can help you to deal with underlying issues that are affecting your happiness.
What Are Your Thoughts?
How do you bring happiness into your life? What suggestions would you have for other people with your personality type? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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