Happiness and health

If you follow the news, there have been disasters, sad and scary events lately. Not to mention the day-to-day stresses many of us encounter. It can be a challenge to remain upbeat. However, being more positive and happy can provide significant health benefits. While about half of our disposition is innate, that leaves a lot of room for us to take steps to improve our outlook. If you need motivation to work on being happier, here are reasons to make the effort.

Harvard researcher Laura Kubzansky found:

… that optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half… (full article from HPH Magazine)

More recently, researchers at UCLA discovered a link between types of happiness and immune function (UCLA newsletter).

People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life (think Mother Teresa) — showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

What are things you can do to be happier?

  • Try something new
  • Practice gratitude; what are 3 good things that happened today?
  • Do an activity you enjoy
  • See your friends
  • Smile and laugh more (even if you don’t really feel like it)

This TED talk by Guy Winch is on a related topic, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” when we experience problems. He says:

By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive.

More resources:

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