Living a healthy lifestyle means getting enough exercise and eating right, but making sure you feel happy and optimistic may be important too.
A long-term study of seniors in England has shown that patients who reported being the most happy and optimistic were 25% percent less likely to die before the study ended. The happiest people in the study had the lowest mortality rates over the next six years, while the unhappiest seniors had the highest.
This may seem like bad news, considering in the most recent polls 10 percent of Americans say they're feeling "lots of stress/anxiety," but let's try to put a happy face on this news.
How Happiness Helps
The researchers who conducted the study are quick to warn that happiness isn't everything when it comes to health, but it sure seems to help. Their theory is the happier you are, the more likely you are to adopt good habits, like eating healthy food and exercising.
They also say optimistic people feel less stress. If you already have health problems, like high blood pressure for instance, stress will only make things worse. In fact, stress can even weaken your body's immune response, leaving you vulnerable to all sorts of diseases.
Keeping a positive attitude isn't a substitute for taking care of yourself, but it does help your body get the most out of your good habits. So keep on smiling!
Getting a Mood Adjustment
If you're feeling down in the dumps, you may think you can guarantee yourself a little happiness, and a longer life, by splurging on a nice car, or a piece of jewelry, but studies show this is the wrong approach. Money can buy happiness, but only for a little while.
Researchers find that the happiness you feel from buying something nice wear off rather quickly. For a longer-lasting dose of happiness, spending your money on experiences, or spending money on your friends and family, works much better. It is true that a little bit of extra cash will make you happier, but there are also effective ways to improve your mood for free.
The key is to focus on the things in your everyday life that bring you happiness, and remind yourself often about how much they mean to you. Then, take your good mood and use it to do something healthy, like go for a walk, and soon you'll make a habit out of looking after yourself, while feeling good about it.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
There's still lots of research to be done on this subject, but scientists believe happiness does more for your health than just reinforce good habits. A growing collection of evidence says positivity may keep a bunch of nasty diseases at bay.
Another long term study of more than 70,000 women by Harvard's School of Public Health found that the most optimistic patients had a 16 percent lower risk of dying of cancer, a 38 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 39% lower risk of dying from a stroke.
Once Canadian study even showed that seniors with a positive outlook were 60 percent less likely to develop a disability. We're still learning about the connection between health and happiness, but we're finding out more all the time about the health effects of staying cheery.
With all of this good news, we hope you're starting to see the value of turning that frown upside down. It won't just make your day a little nicer, it may help you live a longer and better life. No matter what your situation is, there's still a lot to be cheery about, and looking at the silver linings might keep you feeling young and healthy.