Have you ever wished a friend or relative health and happiness? If so, you may have been onto something that recent research confirms—happiness and health have a strong correlation. Scientific studies have verified that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger and our lives longer. How good is happiness for you and how can you make a conscious effort to be happier?
- Happiness and your heart
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center followed 1,739 healthy adults living in Nova Scotia, Canada, for 10 years to determine whether their attitudes affected their health. After accounting for known heart disease risk factors, the researchers found that people with a positive outlook, who experienced joy, happiness, excitement and contentment in their lives, were 22% less likely to develop heart disease.
- Being happy strengthens your immune system
Several studies confirm a link between happiness and our ability to fight diseases. One by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown children who have a more positive outlook at age seven, report better general health and fewer illnesses 30 years later.
A string of studies done by the Cole Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the University of California, Los Angeles found that negative mental states such as stress and loneliness can affect our immune responses at the gene level and shape our ability to fight disease.
- A positive attitude may ease pain
Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Research on rheumatoid arthritis in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found evidence that mood can affect people’s perception of pain and related symptoms, like stiffness and swelling.
- Being happy is life extending
Aging gracefully can add years to your life. One study examined 660 people and found that those who felt positive about getting older lived seven and a half years longer than those with a negative outlook about aging.
Happy people tend to cope better with stress and the challenges of daily life. Experts agree that happiness has nothing to do with circumstances or material possessions. Rather, it comes from a person’s outlook on life.
Strategies that could help naturally negative people become happier.
You certainly don’t need to be happy all the time, however, being mindful about your happiness and cultivating a few habits that lead to a happier life could make you healthier.
- Express gratitude and acknowledge the good on a regular basis
- Practice being optimistic
- Add happiness by subtracting things that don’t bring you joy
- Engage in frequent acts of kindness
- Savor joyful events
- Practice forgiveness
- Connect with other people
Finally, devote at least 15 to 20 minutes a day to doing something enjoyable and relaxing. Make sure you don’t abandon this activity on busy days.
Be happier with your health care:
Consider signing up for CarePlus—a free concierge health care service. When you sign up for CarePlus our team will help you:
- find the right doctor
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- obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
- get your insurance questions answered