Thinking past is past could make you happier

Last Updated: May 03, 2011, 13:46 PM IST

Washington: You may not be able to change your personality, but you could change your approach to time - to be a happier person. After, all getting nostalgic about good times can bring a smile to your face.

A new study suggests that savouring happy memories or reframing painful past experiences in a positive light could be effective ways for individuals to increase their life satisfaction.

More than 750 participants completed surveys about their personality, life satisfaction and "time perspective" -- a concept coined by Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo to describe whether an individual is past, present or future oriented.

"We found that highly extraverted (extroverted) people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets," said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

"People high on the neurotic scale (moody, emotionally unstable and fretful), essentially have the exact opposite view of the past and are less happy as a result," added Howell, who authored the study with graduating senior Jia Wei Zhang.

The study examined how people`s ratings on the "Big Five" personality traits relate to their approach to time and life satisfaction, reports the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The "Big Five" model assesses how extroverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable a person is, and rates individuals as high or low on each personality trait rather than assigning them a personality type, according to a San Francisco University statement.

"This is good news because although it may be difficult to change your personality, you may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness," said Howell.

IANS