Keeping on the Sunny Side
Are you someone who jumps out of bed every morning ready for a new day? Who walks along to an upbeat rhythm in your head, spreading encouragement and positivity to everyone you meet? Who can always find a silver lining to any situation? Even if you’re not, you probably know someone just like this, and maybe you’ve wondered, Why is it that some people always seem so sunny and cheerful?
Although many factors can influence how happy we feel from one moment to the next, and everyone experiences rough times, there’s no denying that some people approach life with a consistently positive attitude on a day-to-day basis – or that personality type probably has something to do with it. To shine some light on this, we asked our readers to agree or disagree with the statement, “You feel you are always in good spirits.”
A modest majority (60%) agreed overall, but individual personality traits – particularly those related to the Strategies we follow – reveal a spectrum of attitudes. Let’s take a closer look.
When it came to the personality traits that determine our Roles, the only notable difference was in the Nature aspect, with Feeling types being 9% more likely than Thinking types to agree that they’re always in good spirits. Diplomats, therefore, with their core Feeling trait, agreed more than any other Role (63%), while Analysts agreed the least (53%). Sentinels (61%) and Explorers (60%) fell in the middle, their responses divided along the Feeling and Thinking traits.
Feeling personality types are characterized by their emotional attunement, and Diplomats are particularly known for their tendency toward optimistic idealism. It’s quite natural for them to seek positivity and to prefer to engage in things that make them happy. This positive focus may help these personalities feel like they are usually in good spirits.
Thinking types, on the other hand, tend to be more disconnected emotionally, preferring to interpret life from a logical perspective and perhaps not taking the time to be aware of or reflect on their mood or general outlook. This is especially true of Analyst personality types. Focused on handling situations rationally, an Analyst might think, What does it matter if I’m in good spirits or not? That’s not relevant to getting the job done.
When looking at our readers’ responses through the lens of the Strategies, much stronger differences between personality traits emerge. Types with the Assertive trait agreed more than any other (79%) and were 33% more likely to agree than their Turbulent counterparts, while Extraverts (74%) were 28% more likely to agree than Introverts. Why is it that the way we feel about ourselves and the way we interact with other people have the greatest influence on our cheerfulness? Let’s consider the results.
People Mastery (86% agreeing)
The Assertive, Extraverted personality types who belong to the People Mastery Strategy apparently epitomize good cheer. Their Assertiveness is key, making them relatively steadfast in their self-confidence and unconcerned with other people’s opinions of them. It’s easy to stay in good spirits when you don’t take criticism to heart. But People Masters are such naturally talented leaders that even in the face of criticism, they can bring people together to work toward positive outcomes. And because they’re Extraverts who seek social contact, when times get tough, these personalities have a strong network of friends and family to rely on, people from whom they can draw positive energy when their own is running low.
Of all the personality types, Assertive Protagonists (ENFJ-A) agreed at by far the highest rate: 93%. Protagonists are idealists, but they’re also doers, and they know how to use their own enthusiasm to inspire others. A positive attitude goes hand in hand with such leadership. Leslie Knope, the fictional Protagonist from Parks and Recreation, is an excellent example of a tireless optimist who doesn’t let negativity get her down (“What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me”). Though her peppy, can-do attitude often wears on her colleagues, her genuine desire to do good and help others always seems to win them over in the end.
Confident Individualism (69%)
Although members of the Confident Individualism Strategy are also Assertive, their agreement with our statement was much lower than People Masters’. More than other personality types, Confident Individualists prefer to be alone – self-reliance is a core value for them and a much higher priority than a good mood. For Assertive Introverts, a solitary lifestyle can feel calm and emotionally stable, not subject to the highs and lows that some other types experience constantly.
That’s probably how they view their general outlook too – not always happy or always gloomy, but somewhere in between. The 31% who disagreed with our statement, however, may be acknowledging that being an Introverted personality, especially one without a close support system, can make it more difficult to pull yourself out of low spirits when they come along.
Social Engagement (62%)
The Social Engagement Strategy is defined by Extraverted personality types who actively pursue excitement and may find, like People Masters, that the stimulation they get from surrounding themselves with positive, energetic people helps keep their spirits up.
Social Engagers’ Turbulent Identity, however, can take a real toll on that optimistic attitude. They may have sunny expectations of the external world, but they’re less secure in themselves. Wavering self-confidence can cause Social Engagers to experience very strong emotions, both negative and positive, and that fluctuation makes it difficult to maintain a consistently good mood all the time.
Constant Improvement (36%)
Readers belonging to the Constant Improvement Strategy agreed at a rate dramatically lower than the other three Strategies, and it’s here that we really see how much the Introvert and Turbulent personality traits can affect our outlook. Constant Improvers are perfectionists who are focused inward. They’re always aware of weaknesses and problems, both within themselves and in the world around them, and they spend a lot of time stuck in their own heads, seeking answers for how to improve.
As a result, whether they want to or not, they tend to focus on the negative, feeling tension most of the time, an uneasiness about how things are and how they will be. So it’s quite understandable that it’s hard for Constant Improvers to describe themselves as usually being in good spirits.
Turbulent Logisticians (ISTJ-T) (24%) were the least likely of all personality types to agree. In addition to the typical concerns of Constant Improvers, Logisticians, more than other types, have another factor weighing on them: personal responsibility. Their sense of responsibility to themselves and to others guides everything they do, and that kind of commitment outranks any question of good or poor spirits.
Consider Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, a somber Logistician with a leadership style that contrasts sharply with Leslie Knope’s. Even when things were going well in Ned’s kingdom, you could always count on him to stay grounded and remind others, “Winter is coming.” Logistician personalities who disagreed with our statement are not necessarily depressed or pessimistic – they’re just serious about everything they do.
It may be true that every moment is what we make it: anyone can choose to indulge in a bad mood and anyone can choose to be upbeat, even in difficult circumstances. But when it comes to having consistently good spirits, people with high self-confidence and people who focus most of their energy on interacting with the external world have a definite leg up. Whether it’s a more carefree attitude or an openness to seeking support from others, these personality types have built-in behaviors and coping mechanisms that help them navigate life positively and stay steady in good times and bad.
For those of us who aren’t always so rosy, keeping some of these strategies in mind might help us feel a little more cheerful a little more often, and that certainly couldn’t hurt.
Do you keep on the sunny side of life? How? Share your ideas in the comments below!