Character traits really can make people less likely to suffer specific serious illnesses, according to a recent study.
Holistic medical traditions, such as the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, have long associated character traits with health.
Certain links made in these traditions seem to border on the superstitious, but there is now evidence from conventional science to confirm that behaviors and tendencies can have an impact on whether or not we develop particular illnesses.
The study, carried out by a team of psychology researchers in the USA, found that people with the following character traits run less risk of developing serious health problems such as lung disease, stroke, and heart disease:
1. High conscientiousness
People who are highly conscientious are adept at organization, as well as responsible and hard-working. According to the study, conscientiousness correlated with a significant decrease in the likelihood of stroke (by 37 percent). It is possible to reason about why a correlation like this might exist.
People who are organized and conscientious are less likely to suffer from anxiety. Responsible, organized people expose themselves less to the stress of getting things done at the last minute. They are also likely to take more care of their diet and regimen.
Conscientiousness is the single strongest predictor of good health according to another study.
People who are extroverted are also less likely to suffer from certain diseases. Extroverts, another study claims, are more likely to engage in ‘Wellness Behaviour’. Extroverts are also less prone to anxiety, particularly social anxiety, and depression.
They are more likely to rely support from friends than trying to deal with their problems on their own, which surely contributes to a feeling of reassurance and peace. Extroverts, according to a study by the University of Nottingham, also have stronger immune systems than introverts.
3. Openness to experience
People who are open to new experiences are at considerably less risk of having a stroke (by 31 percent), developing a heart condition (by 17 percent) and high blood pressure (by 29 percent). People with this personality trait are usually also intelligent, broad-minded, and imaginative, according to the definitions in the same study.
Open people, according to other research, might engage in more substance abuse than other groups. Nevertheless this character trait, it seems, still contributes significantly to good health.
Agreeable people are also less likely to develop certain illnesses. Another study suggests that disagreeable people are more likely to engage in risk-taking or unhealthy behaviors, as they are more likely to flout convention and rebel.
Disagreeable people are also more confrontational and aggressive, meaning that their lives probably involve a greater deal of emotional distress.
5. Low Neuroticism
Neuroticism is defined as a predisposition to anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy, jealousy, and loneliness. Neuroticism increased the chances of getting a heart condition by 24 percent, lung disease by 29 percent, high blood pressure by 37 percent, and arthritis by 25 percent.
Neurotic people are more likely to engage in harmful health practices. They’re also less likely to engage in positive health behavior. This, added to the fact that they tend to experience greater extremes of negative emotion, means that they are more vulnerable to illness.
It’s worth noting here that no character trait was able to predict cancer.
The conclusion seems to be those character traits connected to illness are the very same that cause us discomfort.
- Not being conscientious can lead to stress, guilt, and neglect for our physical health.
- Introversion can have the side-effect of isolation. But what’s more likely to be the problem is the habit of blowing worries out of proportion that can spring from it. This can mean unnecessary stress and anxiety.
- Lack of openness to experience restricts us and makes us feel outraged at others.We might even resent those who are more liberated than we are.
- Being disagreeable can cause us to come into conflict with others and isolate us, which makes us anxious, or feel guilty or bitter.
- Neuroticism predisposes us to fear and anxiety as well as a whole host of other negative emotions. This loads us with unnecessary stress.
It’s helpful to recognize the personality traits inside ourselves that are causing us to feel damaging emotions. It’s more important, however, to work on the bad habits they predispose us to.
Is there something you can do to reduce stress in your life? It can be very difficult to let go of certain bad habits and liberate ourselves. But, in the end, you might be doing your health a favor if you do.
Why do you think these character traits contribute to illness? We’d love to hear your views.
By Caroline J.