One of the most important keys to happiness, say behavioral experts, is an attitude of openness and trust.
"An essential element of happiness is the ability to develop trust in one's fellow man. People who lack trust are generally unhappy," says Dr. Judd Marmor, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles and a former president of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Lawrence Kolb, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Columbia University, agrees. "Happy people," says Kolb, who also is a former APA president, "have an open, warm, friendly and trusting attitude toward life. These characteristics can be cultivated."
Yet, while some people think nothing of sharing not only their possessions but also their innermost thoughts and feelings, many have difficulty trusting. The following simple quiz, developed by Dr. Anthony Pietropinto, an attending psychiatrist at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, and Dr. Berthold Schwarz, a Florida psychiatrist, will give you an idea of how trusting you are. Circle one of the answers following each question:
1. Do you dislike lending money or possessions to others?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
2. When you have an emotional problem, do you turn to someone close to you for advice rather than bottle it up inside?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
3. Do you share personal secrets with someone? (A secret is different from a problem, points out Dr. Pietropinto.)AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
4. When someone asks how much money you make, do you give them an accurate figure?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
5. At a social gathering, do you wear a phony expression on your face to mask your true feelings?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
6. Do you double-check your credit card charges when you receive your end-of-the-month bill? If you don't have a credit card, do you check your electric or gas meters at the end of the month to make sure the meter reader is accurate?AlwaysUsusallyOccasionallyNever
7. If someone gives you a compliment, instead of accepting it gracefully, do you wonder if they want something from you?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
8. Given the opportunity, do you feel people will take advantage of you?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
9. Would you employ someone, say, to cut your lawn or clean your house, without a recommendation from someone you know?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever
10. Do you feel the best way to make sure people work is to supervise them all the time?AlwaysUsuallyOccasionallyNever SCORING For Questions 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10, give 3 points for each 'Never' answer, 2 points for each 'Occasionally,' 1 point for each 'Usually' and 0 points for 'Always.' For Questions 2, 3, 4 and 9, give 3 points for each 'Always,' 2 points for each 'Usually,' 1 point for each 'Occasionally' and 0 points for each 'Always.'
If you scored from 28 to 30, you are very trusting -- maybe even a little gullible.
If you scored from 20 to 27, you are a trusting person, secure in your own feelings and friendships. You put friendships and social relationships above personal possessions.
If you scored from 7 to 19, you are a cautious person with a healthy skepticism toward life. You are friendly, but protective of your privacy and possessions. You feel people must prove themselves worthy before you can trust them.
If you scored from 0 to 6, you are suspicious of others and their motives. You probably have had disappointments in relationships and with trusting in the past.