The term “The Golden Five” refers to five character strengths that have consistently related to well-being (Park et al., 2004). These are hope (i.e., the belief that one can create a good future), zest (i.e., feeling energized towards life), gratitude (i.e., being aware of and grateful for the positive aspects of life), love (i.e., the capacity of loving and giving love), and curiosity (i.e., intrinsic willingness for new experience and acquisition of knowledge) (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Furthermore, recent research evidence has indicated that other character strengths positively impact well-being (e.g., life satisfaction and positive affect), which are social intelligence, perseverance, and humor (Martinez-Marti & Ruch, 2014). Relevantly, well-being seems to be related to career success (Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008).
Relationship between well-being and career success
Boehm and Lyubomirsky (2008) reviewed the relationship between happy people (i.e., people that often experience positive emotions, e.g., satisfaction) and career success. Their summarized evidence supports the notion that happiness positively affects career success, as exemplified below (Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008):
- Longitudinal evidence: People reported low life satisfaction before becoming unemployed (Lucas et al., 2004), suggesting that positive emotions could be protective against unemployment (Boehm et al., 2008).
- Cross-sectional evidence: Happiness seems to correlate with workplace success, e.g., happy employees show higher performance in specific tasks than less happy employees (Boehm et al., 2008).
- Experimental evidence: Participants experiencing positive emotions in experimental studies tend to set higher goals (Baron, 1990) and persist longer at difficult tasks (Sarason et al., 1986). Interestingly, they set higher expectations for themselves, which may produce self-fulfilling prophecies that positively advance one’s career success (Boehm et al., 2008).
How can you concretely develop The Golden Five?
- Strength-spotting: Strength spotting means identifying character strengths in yourself and others (VIA Institute on Character, 2019). You may use your life stories to remember when you used each one of The Golden Five, which improves your strength fluency (VIA Institute on Character, 2019). For instance, what was your most successful career moment so far, and how zest may have supported it?
- Towing principle: The towing principle means leveraging weaker strengths with signature strengths (Niemiec, 2017). For instance, humility and gratitude reinforce each other (Kruse et al., 2014), thus you may use humility (e.g., one signature strength) to increase your gratitude (e.g., a weaker strength) (Niemiec, 2017).
- Daily practice: Identify «The Golden Five» you would like to develop, cue it with a habit, practice the chosen character strength for eleven minutes every day, and reward your behavior once you have practiced it (McQuaid, 2020) (for more specific ideas, see, McQuaid, 2020).
Hope, zest, gratitude, love, curiosity, social intelligence, perseverance, and humor seem to positively correlate with well-being (Martinez-Marti & Ruch, 2014; Park et al., 2004). In turn, well-being seems to positively associate with career success (Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008). Thus, considering the development of «The Golden Five» can be a strategy for you to achieve more well-being and, ultimately, career success.