Why Confident People Are Also Happier People
When asked about the most important outcomes of having healthy confidence, many would likely state “success,” “respect from others,” and “appreciation.” Happiness, on the other hand, is a feeling we tend to associate with life satisfaction and well-being, feeling healthy, and having good friends, relationships, and fulfilling careers.
We rarely directly link confidence and happiness. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of publicity about their close alliance. There is no self-help advice along the lines of “to be perpetually happy, become more confident.”
So, is it accurate to assume that confident people are also happier?
Let’s examine what some great academic minds have uncovered.
The Link Between Confidence and Happiness
Below is just a small fraction of the support that exists in favor of the positive link between the two:
A study from 2014 on 200 students has found a positive relationship between self-esteem and happiness—that is, the increase in the former leads to an enhancement in the latter. Another recent small-scale research from Ireland also unveils that favorable self-assessments are positively liked to happiness and life satisfaction.
Perhaps one of the most widely-cited papers on the link between the two states is that of Prof. Roy Baumeister, titled “Does Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?” In it, he quotes a large-scale study done with 31,000 college students from 49 universities, 31 countries, and five continents. High self-esteem was the most important factor which predicted overall life satisfaction, and the link between confidence and happiness is 47%, which, in statistical evidence, a very close relationship.
Other studies, which Prof. Baumeister references in his paper, support the above conclusions—that is, self-esteem predicts happiness.
Self-Esteem Predicts Happiness
A decade ago, Mary Guindon—a former chair of and associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Services at John Hopkins University, and a consultant, educator and a teacher on the issues of mental health, career development, and self-esteem, among others, conducted a survey of school counselors in New Jersey.
Participants were asked to list five words that best described students with high and low self-esteem. High self-worth students, turns out, were perceived as confident, friendly outgoing, happy, positive/ optimistic, and motivated.
In comparison, the low-assured students came across as withdrawn/shy/ quiet, insecure, underachieving, negative, unhappy, socially inept, unmotivated, depressed, dependent/ followers, with poor self-image.
In another widely popular piece of research, empirical studies show that confident people and low self-value ones also differed tremendously in, well, almost everything
Low esteem people are believed to be more sensitive toward criticism, more emotionally unstable, react more negatively to failure, and inhibit high doses of social anxiety and self-consciousness—that is, low confidence was linked to greater unhappiness.
High self-esteem (as opposed to low) helps us to weather some of the “emotional distress” which comes from experiencing negative events, distress, and rejection.
How so? Because confident people have a different mindset when it comes to failure, Prof. Jonathon Brown—a renowned social psychologist and a self-esteem researcher from the University of Washington, Seattle, U.S.— has discovered. Confidence serves as a buffer, he believes.
Simply put, his research confirms, self-assured individuals view failures as temporary setbacks and as opportunities. What’s more—they also don’t judge themselves as disappointments—i.e. their levels of self-worth remain unchanged after a letdown.
Confident People Look for Relationships
Low esteem is often paired with social aversion, shyness, desire to “be left alone,” and unwillingness to meet new people.
Confident people, in contrast, are more likely to socialize and to look to expand their network of friends and acquaintances. As they believe in themselves and the value they have to offer to the world, they also recognize the importance of networking and creating bonds as a way to become appreciated, supported, and recognized.
And even of greater significance is that, according to research, our close relationships are the main predictor of happiness in life. Therefore, once again, studies tend to agree that self-assured individuals are happier, as they seek to create lasting and caring relationships.
Confident People Don’t Look for External Validations
Confident people generally don’t look for external self-validation compared to low esteem ones. They don’t have to because they know exactly how much they are worth.
As we all recognize, comparisons to others are frequently a major cause of unhappiness, anxiety, and life dissatisfaction. An “I-want-more-than-others” outlook is a very dangerous mental framework, which throws us in a perpetual measure-up against others. Nothing is good enough, and we often feel as not good enough.
However, the Social Comparison Theory tells us that confident people may engage in comparisons to others who are better, too. But it’s driven by a motivation to improve, rather than a desire to prove to ourselves and others that we are worth it.
In the end, it’s worth noting that it will be probably erroneous to assume that confident people are always happy. They don’t wear rose-colored glasses all the time. We all experience setbacks, failures, unfavorable events, which make us feel anxious, worried, distressed, and unhappy. It’s part of life.
As we already mentioned, confident individuals tend to be more emotionally stable, have a more constructive outlook, and feel greater self-acceptance and respect.
Because of the above, they are also able to focus on the positives in life, to enjoy greater relationships, to compare themselves less to the Joneses, and rather—to seek enrichment through experiences, and self-improvement. They are simply better equipped to deal with life, manage stress, and reach their goals.
And all these benefits that confidence brings translate into improved long-term well-being and life satisfaction—that is, a state we often call “living the good life”—which, in turn, is what gives us a sense of joy, peace with ourselves, excitement, and gratitude. In other words: Happiness.