(StatePoint) Do you want to start the New Year with a renewed sense of optimism? Do optimistic people think or behave differently?
A new study recently uncovered the secrets of optimistic people who feel in control of their lives.
One key to achieving optimism and lowering stress levels is to find ways to take greater control over your life, say researchers.
Sixty-six percent of Americans now say they feel in control of their lives, and their lives are headed in the right direction, according to Lincoln Financial Group's "MOOD of America" study.
So how can you be more like them?
Surprisingly, researchers uncovered several consistent behaviors and attitudes that are strongly associated with feeling in control of one's life -- all of which revolve around not letting money or your job define who you are.
Upbeat Americans are driven by a mindset that they can always find ways to solve problems. And they seem to have struck the right balance between finding time for fun things they enjoy and taking the necessary steps to secure their futures.
"Americans who feel in control of their destinies share a common mindset focused on positive, constructive behaviors every day," said Mark Konen, president of Insurance and Retirement Solutions for Lincoln Financial Group.
The good news is there are certain behaviors you can adopt to positively impact your life. Consider these top five behaviors of Americans who feel in control of their lives:
*They value and cultivate personal relationships.
*They volunteer in their communities and give to charity.
*They take quiet time to be alone and think.
*They exercise and spend time on hobbies.
*They adhere to budgets and save for retirement.
Not surprisingly, those who said they felt in control have taken concrete steps to build financial security, such as establishing retirement accounts and owning other financial products, including life insurance.
They are also more likely to stay within their budgets and save money from every paycheck, regardless of amount.
One of the secrets of optimistic Americans, according to the research, is they are not driven by the desire to be wealthy.
Instead, Americans "in charge" consider financial freedom -- having enough money to do what they want -- to be four to five times more important than being wealthy.
"The combination of traits that apply to 'take charge' Americans shows these people strike the right balance," says Konen. "They value alone time, but also invest in relationships with friends and family. They enjoy leisure time but make time to sit down with their paperwork and adhere to budgets."
More details from the new survey can be found at LincolnFinancial.com/surveys.
According to the new research, the key to optimism is adopting a mindset centered on the fact that it's squarely within your power to control your destiny.
While you must take steps to build a secure future, it's equally important to take time to enjoy life.