The Link Between Our Mindset and Happiness

The Link Between Our Mindset and Happiness

Psychology September 08, 2022 / By Dr. Brian Davidson
The Link Between Our Mindset and Happiness

Might there be a connection between the mindsets we hold and how happy we feel? In a quest to explore the relationship between our mindset and well-being, researchers examined how particular mindset skills are related to happiness.

What makes us happy? It is a question nearly all of us seek to discover and hope to attain. Conventional wisdom and many motivational quotes remind us that our mindset often plays a role in impacting our happiness. But is this true? Might our mindset influence our happiness, and if so, what aspects of our mindset are most related to our well-being?

To explore these questions, we utilized data collected by researcher, Dr. Nate Zittergruen, as part of his doctoral dissertation completed at Drake University. Using a convenience sample of student-athletes from various universities across the United States, individuals completed the MindVue Profile as well as items composing the Authentic Happiness Inventory. The MindVue Profile is a psychometric assessment measuring various mindset skills found in research to be related to numerous performance and positive life outcomes and serves as a snapshot to understand how a person is thinking and feeling relative to others. The Authentic Happiness Inventory is a psychological assessment used within the field of positive psychology to assess subjective happiness. Using data from these two instruments, analyses were run to understand the relationship between the mindset skills measured by the MindVue Profile and happiness.

For those unfamiliar with statistics, correlational studies are used to show the relationship between two variables. Correlations can range from -1.0 to +1.0, with a score of 0 showing there is no relationship between the two variables. If one variable increases while the other decreases, this is an example of negative correlation. On the other hand, if both variables increase, this is an example of a positive correlation. In the social sciences, a general frame of reference is that a positive correlation of approximately .10 is a small relationship, scores around .30 represent a medium correlation, and scores above .50 demonstrate a strong relationship. When it comes to assessing human psychology in the social sciences, it is somewhat rare to see correlations between two variables exceed .30.

When analyzing the outcomes of this study, there were many notable findings. Foremost, the results supported conventional wisdom that our mindset is, indeed, related to happiness. As shown in the table below, all but two mindset skills measured on the MindVue Profile demonstrated a statistically significant correlation with happiness.

Correlations Between the Mindset Factors Measured on the MindVue Profile and Happiness

Correlations Between Mindset Factors and Happiness

Although a positive relationship did exist, self-control and growth mindset were not found to have a statistically significant relationship with individuals’ happiness. This finding was a bit surprising since prior research examining both self-control and growth mindset have demonstrated that a statistically significant correlation does exist between these mindset skills and happiness.

Outside of these two mindset factors, all the other skills demonstrated a statistically significant relationship with happiness. Of these various skills, though, which ones demonstrated the strongest relationship? Intriguingly, self-awareness had the highest correlation with happiness. As measured by the MindVue Profile, self-awareness involves possessing a strong sense of identity in which the person feels comfortable and confident in who they are. An individual with high self-awareness feels like they know their strengths and use those strengths on a regular basis. Since this study was correlational in nature, it prevents us from saying that self-awareness or any of these other mindset skills, for that matter, causes happiness. Regardless, it is safe to say there is a very significant relationship there. It appears that if we strive to be happy, it would be prudent to cultivate a strong sense of identity – where we seek to become more confident in ourselves. Answering the age-old question of “who am I?” may go a long way in assisting us in becoming happier.

Tying for second place was the total MindVue Score as well as the Drive composite score. The MindVue Score is an aggregate score of all the mindset skills measured by the MindVue Profile. These results infer that there is a significant relationship between our overall mindset and our sense of happiness. Like the MindVue Score, the scale known as Drive also showed a sizable correlation with happiness. The Drive scale serves as an indicator of a person’s sense of internal motivation. Thus, these results suggests that there is a positive connection between having our motivation come from within and our sense of happiness.

Next, we found that self-efficacy, conscientiousness, and grit also showed a sizable relationship with a person’s well-being. This finding suggests that a key to happiness may involve developing a sense of confidence that we can accomplish our goals. Building the internal belief that we can achieve our goals may be an important building block to building wellness. Like self-efficacy, conscientiousness also showed a notable correlation with happiness. Individuals that are highly conscientious tend to limit procrastination, stay organized, and remain reliable and dependable when completing their work. In addition to the relationship with well-being in this study, prior research has shown that conscientiousness is related to factors such as workplace performance, healthy eating, and even life expectancy. Finally, grit was also shown to be related to our wellness. Grit is defined as having passion and perseverance for long-term goals. People high in grit combine a deep sense of passion about their goals with a sense of perseverance to remain committed to those goals when the going gets tough. The combination of passion and perseverance fuels grit and based on these results…may also help fuel happiness.

In summary, in conducting this research, we wanted to know: might our mindset be related to our sense of happiness? And if so, what factors of our mindset seem to be the most important when it comes to our well-being? In analyzing these findings, we came away with the following conclusions:

  1. A strong sense of identity is really important. When it comes to correlations in psychology, a correlation above .50 is a big deal. The correlation between self-awareness and happiness came in at .52. This suggests that developing a strong sense of identity, in which we feel comfortable and confident in the person we are, may be an important factor for our happiness. If we can help people understand their core values, recognize their strengths, and build a strong sense of identity, happiness may flourish.
  2. Confidence, conscientiousness, and grit matter. Wellness rides hand in hand with possessing the confidence to accomplish our goals. To develop that internal belief to succeed, we first need goal clarity – where we know what those goals are. Next, when we remain attentive to detail, limit procrastination, and keep our lives orderly, good things tend to happen. Finally, possessing both passion and perseverance, the two building blocks for grit, also appears to be related to our well-being.
  3. Our mindset makes a difference. With so many mindset skills showing a statistically significant relationship, in addition to the composite MindVue Score having such a high correlation, the evidence is clear that there is a connection between our mindset and how happy we feel. The joy and happiness we experience in our life may be a byproduct of the mindset we cultivate. Indeed, there might be some truth behind Roy T. Bennett’s quote saying, “Happiness depends on your mindset and attitude.

In closing, the United States currently ranks at #16 among the world’s nations in the 2022 World Happiness Report, sitting a distance behind the top five happiest countries in Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. At a time when people are exhausted from the pandemic and struggling with the continuous social, economic, and political unrest felt within society, one must ask: what can we do to become happier? While the answer to that question is one of great complexity, perhaps cultivating our mindset – the greatest tool each of us has – provides the avenue to find that answer.

If you have interest in partnering with MindVue to measure and/or build your mindset skills or those of your team or organization to proactively enhance mental wellness and optimize performance, please contact

This article was first published on MindVue Insights.

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