“Being happy has been demonstrated in numerous studies to actually have health benefits, both short term and long term. It seems that being happy is correlated with living longer, boosting our immune system and more. So in general, do things that improve your mood and make you happy, and you will be healthier for it. Thus, we have compiled a list of 6 ways that being happy is good for your health.” – colorectal surgeon Dr. Kamrava
Happiness Is Good For Your Heart
Numerous studies have shown that being happy is correlated with lower blood pressure and heart rates. Longitudinal studies have shown that over long term periods, those who reported being happier had lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Further studies have demonstrated a relationship between heart-rate variability (the time interval variability between heart beats) and happiness. Heart-rate variability has been demonstrated to be related to various diseases, including coronary heart disease. In fact, one study found that happier people were 22% less likely to develop coronary heart disease.
Happiness Is Good For Your Immune System
Have you noticed that people who are in a bad mood are always getting sick? Well, there may be a reason for that. Research is showing that there is a strong link between levels of happiness and the strength of your immune system. It has been demonstrated, for instance, that people with high positive emotions were more resistant to the initial sickness associated with inoculation, a strong indication of an effective immune system.
Immune systems versus happiness levels were also measured in a study that looked at the same person’s happiness across time. The results showed that a person’s reported happiness correlated with their immune system, as measured by antibody count in saliva, over a 6 month period.
Happiness Is An Anti-Stress Emotion
It has been well established that stress lowers our immune systems and opens us up to sickness. Stress has the ability to change our hormone balance and blood pressure, while being happy seems to counteract those effects. In a research study that looked at levels of happiness compared to levels of stress, it was found that people who reported themselves as being happy had lower amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone. Happiness also seems to combat stress once a person is already experiencing stress. Thus, if you are feeling especially stressed, do something that makes you happy, and your stress level should decrease.
Happiness Is Related To Less Physical Pain
In a recent study, researchers asked participants to rate their level of happiness and also how often they had experienced negative physical symptoms such as body aches, muscle strain, heartburn or dizziness. The results showed that, in fact, people who were self-reported as happy had less overall physical aches and pains. Another study showed that levels of happiness may actually mitigate already existing pain.
Happiness is related to more long-term related aches and pains as well. In one study that looked at 10,000 people, those who rated themselves as happy were less likely to have long-term health conditions like chronic pain several years later.
Another study showed that women who rated themselves as less happy were more likely to develop breast cancer in the years to come, which suggests that being happy is a natural safeguard against cancer.
Lastly, a study of people 65 and older found that those who rated themselves as happy, hopeful etc. were less likely to be frail. Furthermore, that same study showed that those same people who rated themselves as happier also had few incidences of stroke
Happiness Makes Us Live Longer
Perhaps the most important metric that happiness positively affects is longevity, living longer. One of the most famous studies on happiness and longevity is a study of the life expectancy of a group of nuns entering the convent. They were asked to write an autobiographical essay when entering the nunnery. Those essays were later interpreted by scientists and compared to the nuns’ long-term health. It was found that those nuns who reported themselves as happier lived longer, on average 7-10 years longer.