The Happiness Connection  

Happy makes you healthy

Get Healthier with Happiness

Being happy has become the gold standard for the way people want to live.

Being happy is a great state of mind, but it has other benefits you may not know about. Scores of scientific research have linked having a positive attitude about life to increased levels of health.

Here are just three ways your physical well-being can benefit from adopting a happier outlook on life.

Happy People have Healthier Hearts

Positive emotions may not start in your heart, but they are looking out for your heart’s health and welfare.

A 2005 study by Steptoe and Wardle found that happy people have lower heart rates and better blood pressure than unhappy people.

Throughout one work day, participants were asked to repeatedly (more than 30 times) rate their level of happiness. They then took blood samples and heart measurements.

Three years later, the researchers asked the same participants to repeat this procedure.

The researchers discovered that those people who had the highest happiness ratings on the initial day of testing, had the lowest heart rate three years later.

The participants who rated themselves as the happiest on the follow-up day of testing, had the healthiest blood pressure.

The study also revealed that the individuals who rated themselves as very happy had 23 per cent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the least happy participants.

If you want to have a healthy heart, start by creating a happier life.

Happy People Don’t Get Sick as Often

At this time of year, you may feel surrounded by people coughing and sneezing and you probably are, but by increasing your level of positive feelings, you can boost your immunity.

A 2003 experiment was designed to discover if there was a link between positivity and avoiding the common cold. Three hundred and fifty volunteers were assessed to see how happy they felt and then exposed to cold germs.

Six times in the three weeks leading up to their exposure to the cold germs, they were asked how much they experienced emotions such as happy, pleased, relaxed, anxious, hostile, and depressed.

Once their level of perceived happiness was established, they were given nasal drops containing cold viruses, and then quarantined.

The results showed people with increased positive emotions were less likely to develop a cold. Other research shows that when happy people pick up a bug, they recover faster.

In a study of stressed law students, those with a positive attitude had more white blood cells (the cells that help boost immunity) than their negative counterparts.

Your body reacts to happiness by boosting its immunity and making it less likely that you will get sick.

Happy People Live Longer

A famous study was conducted with Catholic nuns to see if there was a link between happiness and an increased life span.

One hundred eighty nuns were asked to write an autobiographical account when they entered the convent. The average age of the nuns when they wrote their account was 22.

Researchers studied the accounts looking for expressions of positivity, such as contentment, amusement, gratitude, and love.

The study showed that the happiest nuns lived seven to 10 years longer than the unhappiest ones.

If you want to increase your life span, start by increasing your happiness.

You Choose

We all have choices. If you are a little like Eeyore in your natural outlook, then you may have to work a little harder, but by choosing to be more positive, you can improve your physical and mental health in ways you may not have realized.

Adding positive thought to your fitness plan is an important strategy if you want to improve your health.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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