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The Relationship Between Health and Happiness

The Relationship Between Health and Happiness

The phrase “laughing is the best medicine” has become cliché for a reason; yet, research now supports what many people have instinctively believed all along: that happiness and health are inextricably linked, and that one’s level of happiness can actually affect their level of health.

Positive psychology is a relatively new field that investigates factors that affect emotional resilience, happiness, and health, among other life-affirming issues. What we now understand about these issues can help us all live healthier, more fulfilling lives—while also lowering stress levels—because of the knowledge we now have.

“Experiences that elicit happy feeling hasten the evaporation of negative emotion. The ability to withstand adversity and psychiatric diseases is facilitated by one’s strengths and virtues, which may also be the secret to developing resilience. The best therapists help patients uncover and develop their strengths and virtues, not only repair damage, according to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and former president of the American Psychological Association, in his book Authentic Happiness. And reliable evidence that supports this perspective keeps accumulating. Below are some significant research findings on happiness and health.

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Health and Contentment

Positive mood has been linked to a number of health benefits, according to a groundbreaking study conducted on nuns. Nun studies are effective because so many other lifestyle variables are consistent, making it possible to focus on a small number of variables, such as personality and attitude, to explain reported discrepancies.

Researchers were able to make a significant discovery concerning happiness and health by examining the lives and deaths of the nuns, who provided information about their emotional states. Positive mood is associated with longevity. In contrast to the least cheerful quarter of nuns, who only lived to the age of 34%, 90% of the most cheerful quarter of nuns were still alive at age 85. Similarly, 54% of the happiest fourth were still alive at age 94, compared to 11% of the least.

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Marriage and Contentment

As if that weren’t enough, research has also shown a connection between happy marriages and pleasant emotion. In another astounding study, researchers were able to identify which women, on average, would be more likely to get married, stay married, and have greater personal well-being over the following thirty years by analyzing the cheerfulness of their grins in yearbook photos. (Hint: It was once more the group that was the happiest.)

What’s interesting about this is that the “upward spiral” keeps going because high immunity is related to healthy relationships, and vice versa. This is a fantastic technique for couples to maintain their mutual health.

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Contentment and optimism

Optimists have also been found by researchers to live longer. Though the two are connected, optimism and positive mood are different. Optimists, on the other hand, tend to have a unique perspective on the world; when good things happen in their lives, they give themselves credit, assign the cause to enduring characteristics under their control, and interpret each good thing as a precursor to much better things to come.

Through this particular lens, people are able to maintain a greater feeling of internal locus of control (a sense of personal control over things), which leads to health-promoting behaviors and is linked to a number of advantages, including increased longevity. According to one study, people who were more optimistic on average lived 15% longer. Evidently, optimism can relate happiness and health.

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Joy and “Maturized Defenses”

A set of strengths known as “mature defenses” is a further element that is closely tied to positive emotion and optimism. These characteristics, which are not exhibited by everyone and change over life, include humor, the capacity to postpone gratification, altruism, and future-focusedness.

A Harvard study that tracked a group of men over the course of their lives found that developed defenses are strongly associated with happiness in life, high wealth, and a healthy old age in men from a variety of backgrounds.

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Joy and Good Health

Robert Holden, a happiness researcher, conducted a poll and discovered that, although both were highly valued, 65 out of 100 respondents would prefer happiness over health. Happily, we don’t have to make a decision because happiness and health go hand in hand. There is no true health without happiness, as Holden put it.

There is also a ton of evidence showing that negative emotions, such stress, worry, and sadness, have a negative impact on one’s health. Chronic manifestations of these unhealthy states can lower immunity and enhance inflammatory responses in the body, which can result in a wide range of illnesses and ailments. Positive psychology ideas can counteract these negative emotions, hence raising the likelihood of being healthy.

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Simple Advice for Becoming Happy

Right now, if you’re wondering how to be happy alone, realize that it can be simpler than you think. These are some fast techniques to improve your mood:

  1. Exercise: According to a systematic review, even only 10 minutes a day (or one day per week) of exercise can significantly increase emotions of happiness.
  2. Embrace thankfulness: Thinking about what you have to be thankful for, such as a roof over your head, your closest friend, or your dog, might make you feel better and reduce stress.
  3. Smile: In one study, it was discovered that participants’ sentiments of happiness were actually improved by the act of smiling. Laughter yoga, which involves using breathwork to elicit laughing and has the ability to lessen anxiety and despair, is another option.
  4. Breathe in deeply: Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, encourages relaxation and may even help the body produce less cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”).

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