Impulsivity is a personality trait commonly observed in both children and adults. Impulsivity is the tendency to act without any prior thinking, without worrying about the consequences or reactions to one’s action. Impulsivity has been associated with risky behavior.
Interestingly, people see impulsivity positively when the action or decision works in favor and negatively when it doesn’t.
According to a popular 1995 clinical psychological study, three major factors contribute to impulsivity:
In children, the initial stages of impulsivity are considered quite common. The developing brains of children prevent them from thinking about consequences. Consistently levels of high impulsivity in adults and children may, however, be associated with mental health disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.
The HTR2A gene helps produce the 5-HT2A receptor (5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 2A). This receptor is found in various parts of the body, including the brain, stem cells, immune cells, and the heart.
This activated receptor causes psychotic health problems like depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.
rs6313 and rs6311
rs6313 and rs6311 are single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs in this gene. The T allele of this rs6313 the A allele of rs6311 are associated with lowered levels of impulsivity.
According to certain studies, men show higher levels of impulsivity than women. Men tend to enjoy the various traits of impulsivity like risk-taking, sensation seeking, and aggression more than women and are hence more impulsive.
A psychosocial experimental study analyzed the levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking in people of different age groups. The study concluded that impulsivity starts reducing from the age of 10.
Children and early teenagers show the highest levels of impulsivity. After 16, adolescents are able to control their impulsivity much better.
The frontal lobes of the brain control impulsive behavior. When there is an injury to the brain that affects the frontal lobes, it can lead to changes in impulsive behavior.
Practice delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is resisting the temptation of getting something right away because of the promise of a bigger reward in the future. People with high levels of impulsivity suffer from the need for instant gratification (the need to get something or do something right away).
When you start enjoying the results of delayed gratification, the dire need to get something done instantly comes down. A 2002 study offered a group of students two kinds of incentives - a small incentive available right then and a bigger incentive available after a week.
Students who followed delayed gratification waited a week to pick the bigger incentive. The students who were unable to wait for the bigger award and were impulsive were found to be more associated with substance abuse problems
Brain Training Exercises
Brain Training programs are usually designed to improve specific functionalities of the brain. You can use a mix of tools, exercises, and programs to improve impulse control, too. These are methods to help bring positive changes to a person’s behavioral traits without medicines.
**Cognitive Behavioral Training (CBT) Techniques
Another proven technique to help better impulse control is CBT. CBT techniques help people understand their triggers when it comes to impulsivity and provide alternative ways to handle urges and temptations. A trained CBT expert should be handling these interventions.
If impulsivity is a sign of mental health conditions like ADHD, substance abuse, Impulse-Control Disorder (ICD), or eating disorder, then medications that treat these conditions can help improve impulse control too.
Openness is one of the Big Five personality traits. The Big Five Personality Traits, also called the OCEAN or Five-Factor Model (FFM), is one of the popular models suggested for grouping personality traits. The five personality traits in this model include:
This personality trait is also referred to as openness to new experiences. People with a higher tendency for openness move out of their comfort zone easily.They usually have a broad range of interests and are open to learning about new things and experimenting. People with this trait are more curious and seek new experiences like going on challenging trips or embracing different cultures. They experiment with new activities that promote both personal and professional growth.
Characteristics of people who are highly likely to be open include:
- High creativity
- Openness to trying new things
- Ability to take on new challenges
- Abstract thinking
- Good imagination
- Diverse interests
- Innovative thinking
Characteristics of people who are less likely to be open include:
- Avoiding change
- Traditional thinking
- Less imagination
- Uncomfortable with trying new things
- Preference for familiar experiences
- Narrow range of interests
A study published in the PLOS One journal reports that participants’ openness to experience influences their career growth. Participants who scored higher in this trait were more likely to move up into managerial and professional positions.
Another study published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour showed that people with high openness to experience tend to look for change and novelty and are more prone to job-hopping and greater job instability. These individuals are likely to take up jobs with higher job status or leadership positions.
The heritability of personality traits has been studied and established. Findings show that there is a significant heritability estimate for openness to experience. People of certain genetic types have a higher likelihood of being open to new experiences and may exhibit characteristics such as active imagination, tendency to prefer variety, curiosity on an intellectual level, and aesthetic sensitivity, while others may be less open to experiences.
There are several personality tests available to understand your personality better. The personality tests are questionnaires that contain several statements. People need to respond, usually on a scale of 1 to 5, based on how much they agree with the statement given. Understanding your genes can also help you understand your personality better.
The ZNF180 gene carries instructions for the production of a protein called Zinc Finger Protein 180. These proteins have various functions and usually interact with nucleic acids. Variations in this gene have been found to influence personality traits.
rs644148 is a single nucleotide polymorphism SNP in the ZNF180 gene. Individuals with the G allele of this SNP are more open to new experiences.
The FUNDC1 gene carries instructions for the production of FUN14 Domain Containing 1 protein. The exact function of this protein is not known, but variations in this gene are shown to influence the openness trait of an individual.
rs6610953 is an SNP in the FUNDC1 gene. Individuals carrying the G allele are more open to new experiences.
Both nature, referring to genetics, and nurture, referring to environmental factors, play a role in influencing personality traits. Certain non-genetic factors that influence openness include:
Studies show that as people age, they tend to become less open to new experiences.
Shared environmental factors are used to differentiate the general environment between different families. Gross paternal income is one such factor. Non-shared environmental factors are used to indicate differences in the same household. Differential treatment for siblings is one such example. A study reported that both these factors could influence the variations in openness among individuals.
Personality traits, in general, are very complex. There are no good or bad traits. Each trait has its unique strengths. Each trait is a factor that shapes your life and your personality as you go ahead. Being on a daily schedule has its advantages, but a little variety out of your comfort zone is also good and can give you a much-needed break from your schedule.
If you feel you need to improve yourself with respect to a certain personality trait because it is affecting your daily activities and relationships, there are ways to do that.
Encouragement - Challenging oneself to try out new experiences can help improve openness to experience. Parents can encourage children to try out new things and think broadly.
Cognitive training - Research shows that cognitive training can increase openness to new experiences. Cognitive training involves a program of regular activities that can maintain or improve one’s cognitive ability.
Empathy is the ability of a person to relate to and share the emotions of others. It is the mental ability to imagine what the other person experiences or feels. Empathy has become one of the most commonly researched topics in the fields of psychology.
Empathy is one of humanity’s most valuable assets. Empathy is a behavior that develops very early on.
People experience emotions corresponding to someone’s mental state or situation. People with affective empathy share the emotional experience of others like it is their own. You might feel anxious thinking of another person’s state or experience fear just imagining what someone had to undergo.
People can identify what other people are feeling and can get their perspective. They can put themselves in their shoes easily and understand them better. Cognitive empathy usually does not make the person feel the emotions like their own but helps them react to the emotions the right way
[This is a very interesting form of empathy where you get a physical reaction to what another person is feeling]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5810456/). Such reactions are a result of the activation of the mirror neurons. When mirror neurons are activated, the body reacts the same way it sees someone else acting. Humans and other species like birds and animals have mirror neurons. (
When you find yourself blushing when watching a romantic movie, your body is going through somatic empathy.
Empathy is strongly associated with altruism. Altruism is the act of doing something that benefits other human beings or species without any selfish motives behind the act. Altruistic behaviors help larger groups like families, communities, and villages live together in mutual harmony.
According to the popular article ‘Putting the Altruism Back into Altruism: The Evolution of Empathy,’ humans are often unable to control how empathetic they feel. This is why they try and prevent situations where they might have to show empathy. People close their eyes when a sad or gruesome scene is played in a movie. This is their way of having control over the situation.
The OXTR gene (Oxytocin Receptor gene) is associated with empathy and love. Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes love and social bonding in humans. The oxytocin receptor is controlled by the OXTR gene and can increase or decrease a person’s ability to feel empathetic.
A particular change in this OXTR gene, rs53576, affects how people trust and empathize with others around them. The A allele of this single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP is associated with lesser trust and empathy, while the G allele is associated with more trust and better feelings of empathy .
Another SNP rs2254298 of the OXTR gene is also associated with changes in empathy levels. People with the AG genotype of this SNP showed the highest levels of empathy, while those with the GG genotype were least empathetic. People with the AA genotype showed moderate levels of empathy.
The BDNF_ gene (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene) helps produce the BDNF protein. This protein is associated with long-term memory and the ability to learn. For a very long time, the role of the BDNF gene was not associated with empathy. However, the latest studies found a direct link between changes in this gene and the ability to empathize.
rs6265 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the BDNF gene. The A allele of this SNP is associated with lowered levels of empathy when compared to the G allele.
Women have always been stereotyped as being more empathetic and nurturing than men. A lot of studies confirm this too. Women score higher than men when it comes to Emotional Quotient (EQ) and are able to feel and show out empathy better too.
According to some studies, people’s ability to be empathetic reduces as they age. This is a major problem affecting adult relationships. As people grow older, the brain area that controls behaviors like empathy experiences reduced activity. This could be the reason why some older adults have lowered cognitive empathy.
A study involving 494 Chinese children tried to identify if parenting styles affect a child’s ability to empathize. The study concluded that children whose parents showed emotional warmth found it easier to show empathy and altruism when compared to children who experienced parental rejection.
Other personality traits of a person like openness, optimism, and agreeableness can all increase or decrease the person’s ability to show empathy. A 2017 study reported that the presence or absence of the big five personality traits - openness, conscientiousness (doing one’s work consciously and thoroughly), extraversion (enjoying social interactions), agreeableness, and neuroticism (being anxious and in a negative state of mind) could affect empathy. Agreeableness, especially, is positively associated with showing empathy.
People who are highly empathetic are called empaths, and here are few common characteristics empaths have:
- Easily overwhelmed
- Emotionally sensitive
- Socially approachable
- Active listeners
- Highly intuitive
- Can easily build relationships
- Can initiate a mass social change
On the other hand, people who score low on empathy may express traits like:Not being able to guess people’s feelings
- Acting insensitively
- Finding it difficult to maintain relationships
- Monopolizing conversations
- Critical, judgemental, and sarcastic
Active listening is the act of listening completely and with all the senses. While actively listening, the person fully concentrates, absorbs, and remembers the communication. Active listening paves the way for empathetic listening and builds trust
Agreeableness is one of the big five personality traits that make a person optimistic, warm, cooperative, and kind. Agreeableness is one of the biggest behaviors that encourage a person to be empathetic too.
EI is the ability of a person to understand one’s own emotions and the emotions of others around. It allows people to explore the thoughts and feelings of others around them and, as a result, build better relationships.
According to a 2006 article on empathy and EI, people who scored high in their EI turned out to be more empathetic (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47374425EmpathyandEmotionalintelligenceWhatisitreally_about) and, as a result, are socially approachable. Such individuals are good in professions like teaching, community outreach, and sales and administration.
Eye-gazing is the practice of looking deep into the eyes of a person for an extended period of time. Psychologists use this to read deep into the thoughts of their patients. You can increase your empathetic quotient by practicing eye-gazing.
A 2014 study made 59 healthy adults watch a sad and emotional video. The study concluded that people who gazed closely at the eyes of the actor showed more empathetic traits when compared to those who did not.
Anger is a state of mind that makes people feel hostile and aggressive and react negatively about someone or something that has triggered them. Angry temperament is the characteristic behavior of a person that makes the person hostile and aggressive by nature. In other words, it is the tendency toward quick, minimally provoked, or unprovoked anger.
Aggressive anger - Here, the person who is angry shows signs of aggressive behavior, including bullying, violence, self-harm, vengeance, and threats.
Passive anger - The person who is angry pretends not to care about the situation and shows signs of being unconcerned. Such individuals indulge in self-harm, obsessive behavior, and avoid conflict.
Assertive anger - People who show assertiveness in their anger retort to punishments, scolding, and disapproval when they get angry.
Anger is a negative emotion or state of mind. Anger is a necessary emotion to stay away from threatening situations. Aggression is anger that pushes a person to harm someone or something. In some cases, anger is followed by aggression and leads to unpleasant outcomes.
There was a time when having an angry temperament was considered negative and looked down upon. Right now, though, scientists and experts think differently.
Anger is a basic, normal, and natural reaction that is common for all living beings. Scientists have proven that at just 12 months of age, babies can start showing signs of anger.
Anger is, in fact, a needed emotion for survival.
Scientists believe that anger helped our ancestors fight for resources and to win over competitors. In modern humans, anger is channeled in the brain’s reward circuit. People have an expectation of how things should go about.
When this does not happen, the reward circuit sends out an alarm to the part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for controlling emotions. This part of the brain reacts to the alarm and shows out anger. Threat, frustration, disappointments, and hostility can all trigger anger.
The problem arises when a person’s angry temperament gets uncontrollable.
The FYN gene helps produce the Proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase Fyn enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for cell growth, development, and signaling. It is also associated with calcium influx - entry of calcium into the cells. This gene has been studied in association with angry temperament.
rs2148710 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the FYN gene. It is located on chromosome 6 of the human genome. Mick et al. investigated an association between rs2148710 and the trait anger.
The study identified the T allele of this SNP is associated with increased angry temperament and aggressive behavior.
Anger can prevent a person from taking rational and right decisions. It also severely affects a person’s physical and mental health.
There are studies that prove negative emotions and anger increase a person’s risk for developing Coronary Heart Disease.
A 2006 study followed the lives of 11,615 non-diabetic individuals for six years. According to the study, people who showed high traits of anger temperament had a 34% higher risk for developing type II diabetes.
Another article finds a relationship between anger and bulimic tendencies (behavior that causes overeating and then vomiting or purging to not gain weight). People who show impulsive anger may develop eating disorders like bulimia easily.
This 2019 study asked people to identify the number of times they encountered some kind of road crash risk like accidents, near accidents, receiving traffic tickets, and losing concentration. The study concluded that 36% of these road crash risks happened because of emotional causes (anger, in this case), and 21% of the participants deliberately violated traffic rules because of anger.
High levels of anger and aggression are also associated with self-harm, the need for psychiatric hospitalization, and behavioral problems.
People with an angry temperament show certain physical and mental signs.
- Tightness in chest
- Increased heart rate
- Clenching the fists and jaws
- Hot flashes
- Shaking and trembling
- Stomach cramps
- Screaming and crying
- Unable to answer back
- Reacting with sarcasm
- Cravings for something comforting, like a drink or a smoke
- Closing up
- Wanting to physically attack the people around
Physical activity is inversely associated with an angry temperament. Studies suggest that regular exercising provides a way to release built-up emotions and rage and can have a positive impact on anger management.
Start identifying how your body and mind react when you get angry and when things go uncontrolled. This will help you identify anger triggers early on and practice one or more of the below angry management techniques:
- Relaxation - imagining relaxation visuals, situations, and phrases to control anger
- Cognitive therapy - identifying alternative ways to handle anger
- Skill development - developing skills that can prevent situations that trigger anger
For some people, their angry temperaments may be a result of the environment they are trapped in. In such cases, finding a change of environment, even for a few minutes in a day, can help.
Extraversion is one of the big 5 personality traits that are considered the core or center of human behavior. Extraversion or extroversion is a behavior that makes a person outgoing, social, and fun to be around. People who are the life of parties and easily make friends wherever they go are considered extroverts.
An extrovert feels happy and gets more energetic around other people. The opposite of extroverts are introverts who prefer to be on their own and avoid company if they can.
Extroversion and introversion are two extreme ends of a graph. People are not complete extroverts or introverts. They are spread out all through the graph. Depending on which side of the graph they lean towards, they are categorized as extroverted or introverted.
Hans Eysenck was a very popular psychologist who researched deeply on personality traits, especially extraversion and introversion. According to him, changes in the brain pathway make a person an extrovert or an introvert.
He mentions that extroverts have lowered ability to respond to stimulation when compared to introverts. Extroverts needed more stimulation to get excited while introverts get stimulated easily, and hence they had to look for this ‘extra stimulation’ outside from people around. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8421248/)
Another study concluded that people who are extroverts are motivated by social stimuli (a social event, agent, or situation that requires a response from the individual) and genuinely enjoy them, while others are overstimulated by the same level of social stimuli and try and avoid them. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3129862/)
The ZNF180 gene (Zinc Finger Protein 180 gene) is responsible for zinc coordination in the body. Changes in this gene are known to increase/decrease the rate of extraversion.
rs644148 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the ZNF180 gene. The G allele of the SNP rs644148 of this gene is associated with an extraverted behavior when compared to the T allele.
The CDH13 gene (Cadherin 13 gene) helps with communication between cells and is a major gene that affects a host of mental health conditions like ADHD and bipolar disorder. Changes in this gene are also associated with changes in personality traits, including extraversion.
rs8056579 is an SNP in the CDH13 gene. The G allele of this SNP increases extraversion behavior when compared to the A allele .
Women score slightly higher than men when it comes to extraversion. This could be because women handle factors relating to being an extrovert like warmth, a positive outlook, and gregariousness (a love for companionship) better than men.
The level of extraversion seems to decrease with age. A particular study analyzed extraversion in people of different age groups with a sample size of around 14,000 British individuals aged between 16 and 81. The study concluded that extraversion was seen the highest in people aged 16-21 and slowly decreased as individuals got older.
A small study analyzed the effects of being a single child vs. having siblings on the big five personality traits. The sample size of the study was 60, and Indian adolescents aged 13-18 were considered samples.
A large inter-geographical study done across 56 nations tried to understand the cultural and geographical differences in the Big Five Personality traits.
According to the results, the level of extraversion was very low in East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and South America when compared to other regions. Oceania, North America, and Europe scored high in the levels of extraversion in their people.
A potential problem with high levels of extraversion is that people love talking and hence end up listening lesser. This can cause problems with social and personal relationships. You can make extraversion your strength if you learn to listen more and engage in active communication.
[Many studies indicate that extroverts make more spur-of-the-moment decisions without worrying about the outcomes when compared to introverts](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886920300301. This can lead to bad decisions affecting their quality of life. Start by analyzing the good and bad of a decision and consider the possible outcomes before you make decisions. Such well-thought-out decisions are called utilitarian decisions and are advantageous for extroverts.
Distractions are very common with extroverts and can prevent them from doing a job well. Be aware that as an extrovert, you are more prone to distractions and find ways to manage this. Here are few strategies that can help:
- Create a routine and follow it
- Reduce social interaction if you think that distracts you
- Keep a ‘to-do list’ for everyday tasks based on the priority
- Have a couple of ‘no social’ days to internally reflect and finish your backlogs
Optimism is an attitude characterized by hopefulness and confidence in a successful or favorable outcome for a specific endeavor or the future in general. Research shows that optimism is linked with good outcomes, like higher life expectancy, better recovery rates, and success at work.
There’s a famous saying by Winston Churchill where he defines an optimist and pessimist aptly. It goes like this “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.”
Optimists expect good things to happen. They look at the positive side of everything. A classic example is a glass filled halfway with water. An optimist would say the glass is half-full, while the pessimist would say the glass is half-empty.
Research shows that a combination of genetics and environmental factors affects optimism levels. People with certain genetic types have a higher likelihood of being optimistic and may exhibit characteristics such as being happy and content, quick to forgive, less stressed, grateful, and altruistic.
The OXTR gene carries instructions for the production of the oxytocin receptor protein. This protein acts as a receptor to oxytocin and binds to it.
Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that transmits signals between neurons. This hormone plays a role in female reproductive functions. It also impacts social functions and emotions such as bonding behavior, empathy, trust, and optimism.
rs53576 is a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP in the OXTR gene. Individuals with the GG genotype were found to be more empathetic and optimistic. Carriers of the A allele were found to have a higher risk for negative mood states.
Your tendency to look at the positive side of things can also stem from certain non-genetic factors.
Adults tend to be more optimistic than younger people. As you grow older, your experience also increases, and this may lead you to have a more positive outlook on life.
Children brought up in a moderately controlled family environment tend to be more optimistic than children who were allowed to be less independent. The socioeconomic status of the family also affects optimism levels.
Optimism has several positive physical and mental health benefits. However, in certain cases, being extremely optimistic can prove to be detrimental.
So, it is more beneficial to have a healthy level of optimism along with a realistic and positive approach to life.
There are several ways to develop a positive outlook and enjoy the benefits of optimism.
Agreeableness is one of the five major personality traits that are associated with human behavior. Agreeableness is the ability of a person to be harmonious (agreeable) with the people around. People who are agreeable are often seen to be warm, kind, and pleasant to interact with.
Agreeableness improves interpersonal relationships and results in a satisfactory life.
Agreeableness is a superordinate trait. It means that there are a lot of sub-traits that are grouped under this major trait. Below is a list of 6 sub-traits that form a part of agreeableness.
Agreeableness reflects the individual's tendency to develop and maintain prosocial relationships. Individuals high in this trait are more trustworthy, straightforward, altruistic, compliant, modest, and tender-minded.
Agreeableness also affects other personality traits.
Empathy is the ability of a person to feel other people’s emotions. Agreeableness is positively associated with empathy. Studies conclude that people who show high agreeableness are able to be more empathetic too.
Altruism is a behavior where people put other’s happiness forefront and derive joy out of it. Altruism is a very important trait needed for the upliftment of the community and is also positively associated with agreeable people.
Trust is the ability to depend, believe, or confide in another person. Being agreeable makes it easy for a person to trust people around.
The results of three individual studies were analyzed, and the effects of agreeableness on interpersonal relationships and satisfaction were studied.
All studies concluded that agreeableness was positively related to everyday satisfaction and relationship satisfaction.
People who are agreeable try their best to avoid confrontation and hence prefer cooperation over-aggression or anger.
People who are more agreeable show higher levels of modesty.
Lowered levels of agreeableness are also associated with an increased risk of mortality.
Another 2003 study concluded that people with lowered levels of agreeability were at an increased risk for developing a love for unhealthy food habits and an increased risk for physical health conditions like obesity.
The CLOCK gene (Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput gene) helps control the body’s internal clock and regulates sleeping and waking up times.
Since the sleep cycle is very important in regulating metabolism and other psychological functions in the body, it also plays a role in changing people’s behaviors.
rs6832769 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CLOCK gene. The major A allele of this SNP is associated with less agreeability behavior than the minor G allele.
The CNR1 gene (Cannabinoid Receptor type 1 gene) helps produce the cannabinoid receptor in the body. These receptors are active in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in the body. These receptors play a role in the emotional state of a person and also alter their behavior.
rs806366 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CNR1 gene.
The major C allele of this SNP is associated with higher levels of agreeableness when compared to the minor T allele.
Women score higher in levels of agreeableness than men and show traits like warmth and tender mindedness.
A study analyzed the changes in the Big Five personality traits with age. The study considered the results of two national samples and concluded that the levels of agreeability increased steadily with age. Older people showed higher levels of agreeability when compared to younger individuals.
The parenting style a child is exposed to during the initial years makes a difference in the big five personality traits developed as an adult. Children who experience positive parenting grow up to become agreeable adults. Children who are exposed to an angry parenting style, especially from their mothers, grow with less agreeability and more neuroticism.
People who are very agreeable try hard at pleasing others around. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology asked a group of 104 people to interact and play a game together. The study concluded that members were not very happy with people who are very agreeable and tried to push them out of the group.
Pollyanna Myth is a tendency where people remember positive things better and more accurately than negative things. The results of four individual studies show that people who are more agreeable go through extremes of the Pollyanna Myth.
This means they judge prosocial behaviors very positively, but they judge antisocial behaviors with extreme negativity. This makes them unfairly judgemental to those who are not perfect.
Studies suggest that people who are very agreeable tend to become group-thinkers. These individuals cannot make their own unique decisions in a group and may not become effective leaders.
If you are very agreeable, be a part of smaller groups where you are not coerced into making a decision that the group agrees to. Smaller groups work better for people with high levels of agreeableness and encourage them to take independent decisions more confidently.
Happiness can be defined and perceived in various ways. It is a very broadly defined term. It is basically an emotional state characterized by feelings of well-being, joy, or contentment. Psychologists term happiness as subjective well-being. It is a measure of relative life satisfaction.
Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence.”
Everyone has a different version of true happiness. Some people may be happy with their friends, while others find true happiness when they pursue their dreams. Regardless of what each person’s version of true happiness is, it makes you feel better, live a good life, and gives you a deep sense of contentment. Also, happiness doesn’t refer to a constant state of joy or contentment. People who are happy in general feel other emotions too. Happy people tend to be more optimistic than others and face negative situations better. They generally experience more positive emotions than negative ones.
Some key signs of happiness include
- Feeling more positive than negative
- Being satisfied with life
- Accomplishing what you want in life
- Feeling like your life is good
- Being open to learning new things
- Practicing compassion
- Smiling or laughing readily
- Enjoying healthy relationships
- Being happy for other people
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by different glands in the body. One of the main functions of hormones is to regulate mood. There are certain hormones called happy hormones which promote positive feelings. These happy hormones include:
- Dopamine: Also called the “feel-good hormone” hormone, dopamine is part of the brain’s reward system and is associated with learning, memory, motor system function, and pleasurable sensations.
- Serotonin: Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin: Also called the “love hormone,” it is mainly important for childbirth, breastfeeding, and parent-child bonding. It is also involved in promoting trust, empathy, and bonding.
- Endorphins: These hormones are termed the body’s natural pain reliever. They are produced in response to stressful situations. They increase during reward-producing activities, like eating or working out.
A study reported that genetic variation is responsible for 33% of the variance in life satisfaction. There are several genes that affect the production and transportation of happy hormones that are responsible for mood. Changes in these genes can affect your baseline happiness.
The SLC6A4 gene carries instructions for the production of a protein called Solute Carrier Family 6 Member 4. This protein is a serotonin transporter. This gene is also called SERT or 5-HTT. Changes in this gene can affect serotonin transportation in the body and hence affect happiness.
rs25531 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the SLC6A4 gene. People with the AA genotype of this SNP in the 5-HTTLPR (serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region) are found to have lower levels of serotonin. People with the GG genotype are found to have higher levels of serotonin and be more happy.
rs2020933 is an SNP in the SLC6A4 gene. People with the A allele of this SNP are found to be happier because the A allele is associated with higher efficiency of the serotonin transporters.
There are several factors apart from genetics that affects happiness. These include income, socioeconomic status, sleep, marriage, education, religious factors, job satisfaction, health, education level, and physical activity are factors that affect how happy a person is.
There are various things you can do to make your life happier. Happiness is not consistent. Certain habits may make some people happy, but not others. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
Anger is one of the basic emotions and a natural, instinctive response to threats. Anger is perceived as a negative feeling. It is a part of the body’s “fight, flight or freeze” response that helps protect us from any threats or danger.
Everyone experiences anger from time to time. It is completely normal to feel angry at times. Anger is a way to express your negative feelings. It can even give you further motivation to solve the problem you’re facing.
A problem arises when people are not able to control their reactions and handle their anger. Excessive anger can cause problems and even affect physical and mental health. This can lead to anger issues that need to be managed.
A variety of reasons can lead to people being angry. Each person experiences anger differently. Certain circumstances may anger one person and not affect another person at all. Grief can also contribute to angry outbursts.
Angry reaction refers to the frustration that people feel in response to criticism or mistreatment. A large study conducted by researchers at The University of Massachusetts identified genetic susceptibility for angry temperament or proneness to anger. The study also identified people with angry reactions. These people were found to agree with statements such as
- “I get angry when I’m slowed down by others’ mistakes.”
- “I feel annoyed when I am not given recognition for doing good work.”
- “It makes me furious when I am criticized in front of others.”
- “I feel infuriated when I do a good job and get a poor evaluation.”
Triggers of anger vary from person to person, and each person may react differently. Common triggers include
- Feeling attacked, threatened, or deceived
- Feeling disrespected powerless
- Being treated unfairly
- Problems caused by people around
- Personal problems
- Uncomfortable environment
- Traumatic memories or incidents
Certain events or circumstances can lead you to experience anger. Anger manifests in many ways, and you display certain signs that show your anger. The angry reaction is characterized by various signs and symptoms. These include
- Increased heart rate
- Churning stomach
- Shaking or trembling; some people may feel like fainting
- Pacing around
- Tightness in the chest
- Feeling anxious, nervous
- Verbal or physical responses that can be harmful in some cases
- Shouting, yelling, or crying
Researchers have found that anger can run in families. Genetics influences behaviors such as anger to a certain extent. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that anger may be influenced by changes in certain genes like the serotonin gene. Serotonin is a hormone associated with anger and aggression.
The PHEX gene carries instructions for the production of an enzyme called phosphate regulating endopeptidase homolog X-linked. This enzyme is found mainly in bones and teeth. Studies have shown that changes in this gene can influence anger.
rs3752433 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the PHEX gene. Carriers of the A allele were found to have increased aggression and frustration.
The MBOAT1 gene carries instructions for the production of an enzyme called membrane-bound O-acyltransferase domain containing 1. This enzyme is involved in the transfer of organic compounds. Studies show that changes in this gene influence anger.
rs555017 is an SNP in the MBOAT1 gene. Carriers of the T allele are found to have increased aggression and frustration.
Apart from your genes influencing how you react in a frustrating situation, other factors like the event or circumstance itself, the social environment around you, your state of mind can affect how you react. Certain other factors that influence angry reaction include:
Anger is associated with various mental health conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Having any mental or physical health condition can lead to more anger of frustration.
Frequent use of alcohol abuse increases aggression and can change how you react to frustrating situations. Alcohol use impairs your thinking, and this can make it harder to control your emotions, and you may react differently and have more frustration.
Having an angry reaction is common, but how you handle it matters. Letting your anger go out of control can lead to problems. There are several strategies to manage your angry reaction. These include
- Think before you act. Sometimes, walking away from the situation can help you analyze the situation better, take control, and then react accordingly instead of taking hasty decisions at the moment.
- Count to 10. Taking a few seconds to count to 10 can reduce the intensity of anger and prevent unwarranted rage.
- Be aware of the changes happening when you feel angry. This can help you think before you react.
- Tension tends to build up in your body when you feel angry. Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, uncross your arms and legs to release this tension.
- Try relaxing techniques like meditation, deep breathing to prevent anger from escalating.
- Turn your aggressive energy into exercising. This helps release energy and also keeps you healthy.
- Try to understand the situation or the person triggering your feelings of anger. Empathizing may change your perspective and help control feelings of anger.