Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happiness and Health

An article in the U.S. News and World Report in 2011 reported on a study which had been recently published in the journal Applied Psychology:  Health and Well-Being and reported to be the most comprehensive review to date of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Authored by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, the study reviewed more than 160 different studies of human and animal subjects.  Diener said that the general conclusion was that "..your subjective well-being-that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed - contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations."  Apparently, most the long-term studies that the researchers reviewed found that anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities, and pessimism were all associated with higher rates of disease and shorter lives. Diener said that while "happiness is no magic bullet," "the overwhelming majority of the studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity."  The article ended with some great "It's Not Rocket Science" advice:

**Add "Be Happy and Avoid Chronic Anger and Depression" to the four other MAJOR health recommendations that are most widely suggested:
1.Avoid Obesity
2.Eat Right
3.DON'T Smoke

So, like musician Bobby McFerrin says in his 1988 song that became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."  That quote originated from the Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba and is as good advice today as it was in the 1960s when it was printed up on inspiration cards and posters.

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