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5 Life Skills That Can Make You Happier
Mastering five specific life skills could be a magic potion that is likely to make you healthier, less lonely and more financially stable, according to British researchers.

The five life skills are:
1. Emotional stability
2. Determination
3. Control
4. Optimism
5. Conscientiousness

Find out how emotional stability and conscientiousness can be sign you'll live a long time.

Led by Andrew Steptoe, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, the team analyzed data on more than 8,000 people, all of whom were 52 or older and resided in the United Kingdom.

And while no single attribute listed above was more important than any other, the team found a definite link between those who had mastered these five life skills with better health, fewer chronic diseases, less depression, less social isolation and greater financial stability.

Steptoe said that the total effect depended on the accumulation of the five life skills. "There is research on individual factors, such as conscientiousness and optimism in adults, but the combination of these life skills has not been studied very much before," he explained.

Specific findings:

  • The 25 percent of people who had the fewest of these life skills reported symptoms of depression, while just 3 percent of those who had four of the five life skills had such symptoms.

  • Almost half of those with the fewest skills said they had high levels of loneliness. Meanwhile, just 11 percent of those with four or five of the life skills said they had the same high levels of loneliness.

  • Slightly more than one-third of those with the least life skills said they had poor to fair health, compared with just 6 percent of people with four or five of the skills.

"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," Steptoe said. "Our research suggests that fostering and maintaining these skills in adult life may be relevant to health and well-being at older ages."

Important caveat: The study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The research findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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