These 5 life skills are the key to happiness, wealth and healthy aging

These five life skills could make you a stronger, more resilient person, according to scientists.
These five life skills could make you a stronger, more resilient person, according to scientists. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer

It’s not just about intelligence, athletic ability or being sociable. New research suggests there are five key life skills that’ll bring you happiness, healthy aging, wealth and career success in your lifetime.

It’s all about resiliency and persistence, according to scientists out of University College London in the United Kingdom.

The five life skills are:

  • Emotional stability
  • Determination
  • Control
  • Optimism
  • Conscientiousness

While they’ve played a pivotal role in the classroom, little has been known about their value later on in life. Turns out, people who held onto these attributes and made them a part of who they have fared better in the long run across a handful of measures.

READ MORE: Why forgiving others will improve your physical, emotional health

“No single attribute was more important than others. Rather, the effects depended on the accumulation of life skills,” Dr. Andrew Steptoe, a UCL epidemiologist and study co-author, said in a university statement.

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After conducting a longitudinal study tracking the personalities of more than 8,000 people, the researchers found the five traits garnered the best results when it comes to financial stability, less depression, lower social isolation, better health and fewer chronic diseases.

People who admitted they had these life skills tended to have lower levels of cholesterol in their blood and less inflammation. They had smaller waistlines and were less vulnerable to heart disease. They even tended to walk faster than people with fewer life skills in check – the experts say walking speed is an objective measure of predicting long-term health in older populations.

Meanwhile, people who conceded they didn’t have these life skills tended to report higher levels of depression and loneliness.

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Nearly 37 per cent of people who rated their health as poor admitted they also had low life skills. Only six per cent of healthy respondents said they didn’t have life coping strategies in place.

“We were surprised by the range of processes – economic, social, psychological, biological and health and disability related – that seem to be related to these life skills. Our research suggests that fostering and maintaining these skills in adult life may be relevant to health and well-being at older ages,” Steptoe said.

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In another study last year, Iowa researchers suggested that forgiveness is another crucial trait that “virtually erases” any negativity to your physical and mental health.

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“We found that the people who are the most forgiving, they tend to be forgiving for lots of things and to lots of people. It doesn’t matter what the situation was, and they showed virtually no relationship between stress and bad health. We’re always asked how we can minimize stress because we live with so much of it but here’s an ancient wisdom — you have to be more forgiving to yourself, other people and the tough situations you’re in,” Dr. Loren Toussaint, an associate professor of psychology at Luther College in Iowa, told Global News.

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“When you don’t have these resilient virtues of forgiveness, these things that bolster you and strengthen you against negative things in life, and you haven’t cultivated it in your personality and the person you are, then stress has its full unadulterated impact on your health,” Toussaint warned.

Steptoe’s full findings were published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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