When it comes to our physical health, we focus on various aspects—exercise, diet, career success. However, the unlock to better physical health may have nothing to do with our physical bodies at all. A new review, published by Wiley, suggests happiness has a tremendous effect on our physical well-being.
Research has shown that depression and frequent stress can slow down the body’s ability to heal. Both conditions can also reduce the body’s immune response and cardiovascular system health. Happiness, on the other hand, can boost these bodily functions.
UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine reports that happiness helps our bodies in six key ways:
· Heart health: Happiness lowers blood pressure and reduces risk of coronary artery disease.
· Immune system strength: People who exhibit positive emotions are less likely to develop illnesses like the common cold.
· Stress reliever: Happiness decreases the amount of stress hormone released when we’re under pressure, greatly reducing the likelihood of blood clots.
· Better quality of life: With positive feelings come positive boosts in the way you feel. Happier people are better equipped to handle pain, and thus, feel less of it.
· Less disease and disability: People with high life satisfaction are 1.5 times less likely to develop chronic health problems or diseases.
· Longer life: The happiest people outlive their unhappy counterparts by 7-10 years.
Soon, our subjective well-being could be measured alongside vitals like our heart rate and blood pressure. It seems happiness has just as big an effect on our overall health as any physical factor. Perhaps the key to our health woes isn’t in a crash diet or medication but in our personal satisfaction.
If you would like to pursue the original study, go to:
Ed Diener, Sarah D. Pressman, John Hunter, Desiree Delgadillo-Chase. If, Why, and When Subjective Well-Being Influences Health, and Future Needed Research. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2017; 9 (2): 133 DOI: 10.1111/aphw.12090