Happy People Live Longer Discovered: Fun Way to Live7.5 Years LongerA 23-year study of 660 people over the age of 50 conducted at Yale University concluded that it was actually possible to increase one’s lifespan by about 7.5 years by holding a positive perception of aging. And this advantage held true regardless of age, sex, economic status, loneliness, or even functional health!
The implication of this research and others like it is tremendous. Positive Psychology, a relatively new branch of psychology, studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. A recent study showed being happy also influences the happiness of your family and friends, and to a lesser degree their friends and family.
So, happiness can increase your lifespan and quality of life.
Why Happy People Live Longer
Researchers at University College London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health have concluded some important biological processes are actually improved by happiness.
In their study, they found that cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to diabetes and hypertension and controls many of the body’s functions was 32% lower in the subjects who were happy. They also found happy people had lower stress levels and heart rates.
And, they discovered that health-related biological factors were independently related to happiness. In other words, people aren’t just happy because they are healthy… They are healthy because they are happy.
A happy person seeks out more challenges and ways to have fun. They tend to see new developments as stimulating rather than threatening. The ability to see the lighter side of things leads to a lower stress life.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore concluded that laughter leads to healthier blood vessels. When you laugh, it’s a workout for your diaphragm, abs, heart, and shoulders.
Laughing and having a good time increases the production of endorphins, the number of antibody-producing cells, and boosts the success of T-cells. A stronger immune system means you get ill less often. And because you are healthier, you enjoy life more. Another one of life’s pretty neat circles…
Have you ever seen a baby that’s just happy all the time? Turns out happiness is coded in our genes… Studies of identical twins who grew up in separate homes have proved this. This means some people are just going to be happier naturally.
But don’t despair if you weren’t born happy. You can still make a conscious choice – and live longer.
We all know that emotions, negative and positive, affect our posture, heart rate, blood pressure, & adrenaline levels… In short, our health. In a similar way, our pursuit of happiness, our decision to cheerfully accept or make choices, leads to a lifestyle governed by the pleasure-seeking principle.
This means you can choose to:
- Go out camping with friends instead of spending a lovely weekend at home
- Help someone who is less fortunate than you (it will automatically elevate your mood)
- Watch funny movies
- Take a fun mini-vacation with family every month
- Be around other happy people
- Count your blessings daily
- Yes, happiness is a state of mind, but also manifests in the way your body functions. Many studies have shown that a happier person tends to deal with illnesses, unforeseen shocking events, and even with permanent disability better than those who hold a largely negative perception of life and aging.
Turns out, laughter is the best medicine. Maybe this explains why George Burns and Bob Hope lived so long.
Do Happy People Live Longer? Positive thinking
Positive thinking is the mental and emotional attitude that we all possess and is what can make the difference between seeing the best in everything or the worst. Sometimes it can seem like everything in the universe is against you. The weather, finances, plans going wrong, disasters … the list goes on and on.
When things start to go wrong it’s all too easy to start seeing the negatives in everything else which leads you into a negative state of mind that can be hard to get out of. Sometimes we need to accept that some things are out of our control and we just have to try and make the best of it. We have no control over when and where the rain will fall. We have no power over our cars temperamental engine. We don’t know when something bad will happen. The point of this is that negative thinking can not change the outcomes of these situations, it can only make them appear worse than they really are.
There is also evidence that suggests that positive thinking can eliminate stress by removing negative thought processes from your mind. It makes perfect sense really. Stress causes increased levels of cortisol to be released from the brain, which in turn ups the levels of anxiety you feel. Anxiety is a leading cause of negative thinking and once this cycle begins it can be difficult to break it. Now, when you are in a positive frame of mind, your dopamine and serotonin levels increase leading to a happier state of mind and a more positive outlook on life.
It is true that negativity breeds negativity. When you are in a bad mood and you feel like the world is against you, you unknowingly give off bad vibes that others pick up on. This could be a simple look you give someone, the tone of your voice or your body language. When people feel negativity towards them, they too tend to become negative and again the cycle continues. When you feel positive you tend to see the best in things and bad situations appear less daunting and easier to deal with. By keeping in a positive mindset you don’t allow the negative to creep in and start clouding your emotions which allow you to remain happier, calmer and more rational.
Happiness and positivity lay in your hands and you are the one who either sees the glass as being half empty or being half full.