Science has Finally Determined the 4 Little Life Skills That Promise Success

Here’s good news: If you had a less-than-wonderful childhood, you can still have amazing success in life. How? Have one or more of these little life skills.That those who had successful, wealthy, and happy upbringings weren’t necessarily the most successful, happy, or healthy once they grew up. Instead, it was people with specific personality traits who were the healthiest and most successful. And these traits helped ensure that they were internally, rather than externally, fulfilled. Here are the winning traits in life, according to their findings.

What makes us healthy, wealthy, and successful?

It’s true that a nurturing upbringing—with lots of love, support and opportunities for play, learning and growth—seem to give people an advantage early in life. But that head start only goes so far. The rest of the recipe, according to new research, comes from you. In a new study published in PNAS, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, researchers from the University College London followed 8,119 men and women to determine which life skills most directly contributed to their health and success in life—or lack thereof. What they found was that those who had successful, wealthy, and happy upbringings weren’t necessarily the most successful, happy, or healthy once they grew up. Instead, it was people with specific personality traits who were the healthiest and most successful. And these traits helped ensure that they were internally, rather than externally, fulfilled. Here are the winning traits in life, according to their findings.

Emotional stability

To be successful in life, start with your own mental health. “Our ability to stay ‘in check’ with our emotions is one of the most powerful life skills we have,” explains Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Emotional stability is like a regulator on our life skill set. It allows us to not be falsely optimistic, overly determined, too self-sacrificing, or too controlling. It allows us to experience life but to come back to a middle ground.” Researchers at the Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus found a direct correlation between emotional stability and future success in a work environment. Those who were more in control of their emotions could handle typical work stressors better, leading to further opportunities at work and less stress overall. Fortunately, this is a skill you can develop. Another study found that exposing yourself to common work stressors early in young adulthood can have profound effects on your ability to navigate stressful work situations later in life. Of course, less stress leads to better overall health. So, if you want to know how to become wealthy and healthy in the future, you may want to focus on your resilience now.

Determination

The U.K.’s University of Kent conducted a study that outlined the top skills employers look for when searching for new employees. Determination was among the top 10. Very simply, determined people get things done, so it’s no wonder that employers would want them on their teams. Determined individuals are willing to move past obstacles to reach their future goals. According to the PNAS study, 26.4 per cent of people who had four or five of the important life skills outlined here, including determination, were in the highest wealth range of participants. Determination also boosts health. According to Dr. Klapow, “Determination is critical for health and well-being as the majority of our health and well-being goals require daily prolonged effort. Determination allows us to move beyond day-to-day living.” Not everyone is born with a fire in their belly, but it can be learned. Self-determination is something therapists and teachers help instill in people every day. In fact, about 62 per cent of teachers often plan activities for students that will help them develop self-determination skills. Many therapists focus on self-determination theory (SDT), which supports one’s personality traits and innate abilities to build their motivation. Of course, you’ll need to find some motivation to stick to what you learn, so sometimes you have to dig deep.

Control

“As we learn to look at the world as a series of events and situations that we can exert control over, we feel mastery and predictability. That allows us to remain calm, to be determined, and to take action,” says Dr. Klapow. One study that shows the importance of self-control followed 1,000 children from birth to age 32. Those who continued to exhibit the highest amount of self-control through their lives were less likely to develop health problems, have a substance addiction, have low income, or commit a crime. A person with self-control understands that actions make a difference. “It is not a matter of having false beliefs that we can control everything in our lives, but rather looking at situations and challenges and believing that our own actions can have an impact,” explains Dr. Klapow. “This results in less stress, more proactive behaviour, and more opportunities to succeed.” The same study shows that people can foster their own self-control—7 per cent of participants dramatically increased the skill on their own throughout the study. The most important thing you can do to become master of your universe is to start looking at the bigger picture. How will your actions now affect you later? You’re less likely to start something that could drag you down later if you understand the risks now.

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